The North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) declared May as Deck Safety Month back in 2006. May is the month that many homeowners start to spend extended time outside on their decks as the weather turns nicer. Unfortunately, a lot of homeowners don’t have their deck’s safety evaluated properly. Just because it is standing, doesn’t mean that it is safe!
According to NADRA, there are over 40 million decks in the United States that are over 20 years old. This is a scary idea for deck builders like us at Archadeck. Building and code requirements have changed drastically in the last 20 years. Those decks that were built 20 years ago most likely would not be considered safe or up to code by today’s standards.
At Archadeck, we suggest having any deck over 7 years old checked for safety. A professional deck builder can come out to home and check all the components of your existing structure. From there, you should get a list of any issues and how they can be addressed. When we do our deck safety inspections, for example, we often find problems with the deck that can be fixed quickly to extend the life of the structure. There are times, however, that we find that it is best to just replace the deck entirely to ensure that those enjoying it are safe and secure.
So what are deck inspectors looking for when they evaluate your deck? At Archadeck, we use the BE SAFER acronym to explain what we are looking at:
Boards – While most wood decking will show cracks over time, the overall condition of the boards need to be considered.
Every Connection – Hardware is key when considering deck safety. Every connection and fastener should be looked at to ensure safety and stability.
Structure – What is the condition of the posts, beams and joists that make up the skeleton of the deck? Is there any visible sagging?
Attachment – It’s imperative to check how the deck was attached to the house as that is where most deck failures occur.
Foundation and Footings – This part of the deck supports the weight of the structure and those who enjoy it. Foundations and footings need to be checked for sinking, sagging and separation from beams.
Exits – Are all of the exits from the deck, like stairs and ramps, in good condition?
Rails – Check that all parts of the railing system, posts, pickets and balusters, are sturdy, properly built and the correct height.
Before you host a barbecue with twenty friends, make sure that you have a deck safety inspection, especially if your deck is more than 7 years old. It will give you the peace of mind that you need to truly enjoy the spring and summer months. Call your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office to set up an inspection at your home.
We’ve discussed at length the importance of a good deck design. It not only has to work for the intended use, but also for the home and the rest of the yard. All components of the property should complement one another instead of combat it. When our deck builder in Little Rock, Tom Duncan, shared the following project with me, I noticed it was a great example how design can impact a yard.
This particular backyard had an existing pool, but no deck. Instead, it had an enclosed area under the the small roof structure seen in the picture. The two spaces didn’t work with each other and inhibited interaction between people using the outdoor areas. The enclosed area was too small to entertain guests and the only access to the yard was on the opposite side of where the pool was. It just didn’t make sense for homeowners who like to entertain and have pool parties and barbecues when the weather is nice.
Tom and his team looked to create an open entertaining space that created a smooth transition from the deck to the pool. They designed a multi-level deck with wide steps to open up the space. By having only three steps at any one place, the different levels, although separate, don’t feel disjointed and invite conversation and interaction between people throughout the whole yard. It also created a low-to-grade deck at the lowest level. A low-to-grade deck or patio is low to the ground and doesn’t require a railing by code. Without a railing blocking views, it invites the eye out into the pool area and yard. The higher parts of the deck do include a railing for code purposes, but the homeowners enjoy the definition and seclusion of those areas.
Access to the pool and the yard was one of the biggest issues with the home’s existing outdoor living space, but the Archadeck of Central Arkansas opened it up. Not only is all of one side of the pressure treated deck open to the pool area, but there is also an opening from the far deck area to the yard below.
This once closed off and fragmented space is now open and conducive to entertaining and interaction. There is space and areas for everyone to enjoy. The built in bench on the low deck offers a place for people to sit and enjoy the sun, while the now open porch is perfect for the person who would like some shade. It was important to the homeowners to incorporate the existing roof structure into the space. By keeping the bones and support of the structure, it was a perfect shaded addition to the structure.
Tom and the Archadeck of Central Arkansas team enhanced the utility of this backyard completely by creating a space that truly works. It all comes back to design. A good design makes for a useful space. A bad design inhibits it. If you aren’t sure what will work best in your yard, make sure you consult a professional outdoor living designer.
On an unrelated topic, we at Archadeck Outdoor Living are thrilled to open voting for our Dream Backyard Makeover contest tomorrow, April 23rd! Make sure you place your vote for the homeowner you want to win the $70,000 backyard makeover!
It has been a busy month for Archadeck and its Dream Backyard Makeover Contest. We are thrilled that so many people have taken an interest in the contest. With over 1,000 entries, it was extremely difficult to pick two for the month of March, but somehow we did it.
We are still accepting entries through April 22nd, 2013. On April 23rd voting will open for all six finalists. If you need a reminder on the prizes, here they are…
First prize – a $70,000 backyard makeover sponsored by TimberTech Decking and Belgard Hardscapes. The winner of this will have an absolutely gorgeous new outdoor living area with both a deck and hardscape component design and built by Archadeck Outdoor Living.
Second prize – a $7,000 deck or patio renovation by Archadeck Outdoor Living.
Third Prize – a $3,000 outdoor lighting system from Outdoor Lighting Perspectives.
The full descriptions of the finalists’ photos will be posted on the Archadeck Facebook page when voting opens, but here’s a glimpse at the March finalists!
The first March finalist comes to us from Connecticut. The first time homeowners and parents fell in love with this home despite the old, not up to code deck and porch. The backyard has great potential to be the perfect space for this growing family. This house is not only the first home the couple has owned, but the first backyard both of them have ever had after growing up in the city! We at Archadeck Outdoor Living see the possibilities!
The second finalist comes out of Iowa. This family had to move to a larger home after adopting two kids from foster care. Now with four young kids (under the age of 10), the homeowners would like an outdoor space for the kids to play away from the television and computer. The parents hope to have a space to relax (maybe cook) and watch their kids enjoy the outdoors. With a large yard like this, the options for a Dream Backyard Makeover are endless!
Congrats to our March finalists! For everyone else, keep the entries coming. The last group of finalists will be announced on April 22nd! There is still time to enter!
We at Archadeck Outdoor Living pride ourselves on being the experts in outdoor living structures. Whether it is a deck, porch, patio, pergola or other project, we design and build the backyards of our clients’ dreams. I hate to admit it, but despite being America’s oldest and largest deck builder, our corporate office’s outdoor living space is lacking. Actually, it doesn’t really exist right now, but we are thrilled to say that that will be changing soon!
Since we are currently in the middle of a $70,000 dream backyard makeover contest, we decided it was time to build our dream space too! Our corporate design staff of draftsmen have designed the perfect outdoor living space for our corporate offices that will soon be underway. I, of course, will be sharing photos and details of how it is coming throughout the process. To start, I want to show you what the plans look like.
As you can see in the first 3D rendering and the photo, our corporate office’s property doesn’t look like a place the outdoor living experts work. We, along with the other companies that we share our building with, wanted a place to enjoy the outdoors when the weather permits. Since we would be the ones designing and building the space, we created a combination structure to show our corporate partners, franchisees and potential franchisees.
The first step in the process is to get permission from the building owners to make the significant enhancements to the property. Much like our system of porch, patio and deck builders do with their clients, our corporate team presented them with several options to consider. An outdoor living project is a significant investment and it’s important to us that our clients feel confident in their purchase when they sign a contract. To ensure that is the case, our design options are presented in 3D renderings that depict what the space will look like on their property. These renders have our entire office waiting impatiently for the space to be available.
These renderings show the final design that is currently with the county for permits. The project will consist of a new paver walkway that leads to an upper paver patio surrounded by seating walls and a fireplace. There will be two entrances off the patio to a 900 square foot composite deck loaded with benches throughout. Since Virginia can bring plenty of hot summer days, a large pergola will cover and shade a large part of the deck. On the far end of the deck there will be a set of stairs that lead to a lower paver patio with outdoor an outdoor kitchen (company cookouts, here we come!)
For the detail-oriented, here are the specifications of the space: The deck will be a little over 900 square feet. In addition, it will have 105 linear feet of white, vinyl railings, 38 linear feet of composite bench, composite trim and solid board skirting. There will be a total of two pergolas, an entrance one, comprised of 34 square feet and the second one that covers part of the deck will be 484 square feet.
As for the paver component, the space will have a total of 1,020 total square feet of Belgard Holland Stone, 108 linear feet of seating wall and 4 stone columns. On the upper patio there will be a 9 foot wide fireplace and an outdoor kitchen on the lower patio.
We are all excited to build and enjoy the new outdoor living space. We are currently waiting for all of the local permits to go through before we break ground on the space. Sit tight for updates!
One of the reasons my husband and I bought our house was the potential we saw in the outdoor living spaces. It has space for a large deck and good sized patio. While we have major plans that we would love to tackle all at once, we know it will need to be done over a few years as time and money allows.
Unfortunately for me, I am unable to enter the Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover contest that just launched. Oh wait, I forgot, a $70,000 Dream Backyard Makeover! The lucky winner will get an unbelievable project designed and built by Archadeck Outdoor Living with materials from our awesome sponsors, TimberTech decking and Belgard hardscapes.
Ok, so here are the details. Starting today, homeowners can enter to win the backyard of their dreams on our Archadeck Facebook page through April 21st. A photo of your current outdoor space will ensure that we design a space that will complement your current home. Additionally, our judges want to hear from you! Tell us how you would like to use the space and what you envision.
Two finalists will be chosen for the months of February, March and April. On April 23rd, fans are invited to vote for their favorite finalist and the final winner will be announced by May15th!
We couldn’t give away just one prize though (what can we say, we like to give). The second place winner will receive a $7,000 deck or patio renovation and the third place winner will get an outdoor lighting system!
What are you waiting for? Go enter to win! I’ll be updating everyone on all the different steps as it happens. Good luck!