Category Archives: Decks

With decking materials, they don’t make ’em like they used to…

You know the old saying “they don’t make ’em like they used to”? It’s safe to say there’s a lot of truth to that. But, believe it or not, some products are actually better than they used to be.

Screened porch with stained ACQ pressure-treated wood in Overland Park, KS

This screened porch in Overland Park KS has a pressure-treated wood floor.

Twenty or so years ago, there were 2 or 3 good materials for a new deck. These included pressure-treated pine, cedar, and redwood. It was a simple decision. They were not vastly different and the prices & performance were quite similar.

Over the last 20 years, a whole host of new products have emerged. In addition to different types of wood, there are different types of man-made decking products. There are multiple kinds of composites, made with multiple ingredients, by multiple manufacturers, with multiple different types of warranties.

Twenty years ago, if you didn’t want to do regular maintenance on your deck, you were basically stuck. Wood requires maintenance. The degree of maintenance it needs depends on a number of factors including the direction of the deck, the amount of sun the deck receives, and other factors. Today, if you don’t want to perform annual maintenance on your deck, you don’t have to. But, this comes at a price. Synthetic decking options are now available. The cost of the materials can be 2, 3, or 4 times more. But, you get a product that lasts longer and doesn’t degrade like natural wood.

Kansas City AZEK deck in Acacia color with Deckorator balusters and cedar railing

Kansas City AZEK deck in Acacia color with Deckorator balusters and cedar railing

In addition, whereas a wood deck may need to be replaced in 10 or 15 years depending on how well it’s treated and maintained, new synthetic decks may last 30 years or more without needing any annual maintenance.

You can still get a wood deck and that can be a really good option. But you can now also get a synthetic deck that has superior performance characteristics and ultra low maintenance. How do you sort through all of the choices? The best way is to talk to a professional experienced contractor. The contractor will explain all the choices and help you evaluate what options are best for how you want to live in your new space and for your budget.

Steve FolsomIf you are considering adding a new deck, porch, or other structure to your Kansas City area home, give us a call for a free consultation at (913) 851 – 3325. You can reach us via email at kansascity@archadeck.net.

Your new outdoor living space should be all about putting the pieces together to fit your family

Lenexa KS Porch deck pergola by Archadeck

Looking at the picture above, you’ll notice quite a transformation. What you might not notice at first glance is the large custom garden shed built to fit perfectly under the deck. This was one of the goals of the homeowners and this is one of the benefits of working with a custom design and build contractor.

When we first met with these Lenexa KS homeowners, they had an old deck with a garden storage shed off to side. They wanted a screened porch, a larger deck, a pergola over the deck, and a new garden shed designed to fit under the deck. We completely redesigned in size and footprint to include all these elements.

In addition to knowing which structures they were looking for, these homeowners also knew they wanted low maintenance materials including composite flooring for and metal railings for strength, durability, and low-maintenance. After considerable looking, they selected Fiberon Ipe color as the deck and porch flooring. They selected low-maintenance Fortress iron railings in black for both the deck and porch.

Archadeck porch Lenexa KS Fiberon floor

We built a gable roof screened porch for a light and airy feel. The wall posts are cedar and the T-111 ceiling is stained to match the ceiling. They wanted ceiling fans, outlets, etc. which we built into the porch. We used our standard heavy-duty screen. You’ll notice how nicely the black railings allow for visibility. Not only are they slender, but the dark color also moves your eye past the railing. The outside porch is trimmed with low-maintenance smart trim.

Cedar pergola Fiberon deck Lenexa KS by Archadeck

The deck on the adjacent porch has a cedar pergola over it for shade. Both the deck and stairs are in Fiberon’s Ipe color which has beautiful markings to look like real exotic hardwood.

Garden shed integrated into deck Lenexa KS ArchadeckThe garden shed is fully waterproof. We custom designed the shed out of Hardie siding and trimmed it with low maintenance Smart Trim.

If you are considering adding an outdoor living space, give us a call at (913) 851 – 3325 or send us an email at kansascity@archadeck.net. Our consultation is free. We look forward to your call.

Steve Folsom - Kansas City deck and porch builder

Steve Folsom – Kansas City deck and porch builder

We’ve all heard of low-maintenance decks. Are there low-maintenance porches?

There is no equation for what makes something low maintenance. Instead, there are many pieces and parts to any outdoor living area and any number of those can be built using low maintenance materials. Does that mean that by not using low maintenance materials that by default you have high maintenance? That’s not the case at all. We can advise you about which areas of your deck, porch or sunroom make most sense to use low maintenance materials. For example, while it is often a smart move to use low maintenance trim on the exterior of your porch or sunroom, you may not need low maintenance interior trim. There are a number of factors that influence that decision which we discuss at our consultation. Low maintenance materials are more impervious to weather and sun so any materials with direct contact with sun and other elements are often good candidates for construction using low-maintenance materials.

Design and installation affect maintenance levels

There are other factors that influence the maintenance requirements for decks, porches or any other outdoor structure. Design and installation also have a big influence on the maintenance requirement. Screening falls into this category. Since screening can be subject to damage by things like wind, hail, falling tree limbs, golf balls, kids or pets; it’s very important to carefully select the screen to use. With screening, you get low maintenance by having the right quality screen installed the right way. There are a variety of screens on the market. Some are more sensitive to damage than others. Through testing and experience we will recommend to you the best screen for your situation.

There are other design elements that determine the maintenance level such as roof overhang and proper roof drainage for weather protection. Proper design and installation of these elements provide more or less protection to walls, soffits, screens or windows.

For screen porches, low maintenance railing is a good choice because of its proximity to the screens. In railing, there’s a very wide selection of low maintenance materials including, composite, vinyl, aluminum, steel and combination railings. Metal railings are very popular. The combine looks and durability with maximum view and they have the slenderest profile. The higher end composites are the most expensive but also provide additional protections. For example, AZEK and TimberTech produce low maintenance railings with extensive warranties.

Steve Folsom - Kansas City deck and porch builder

Steve Folsom - Kansas City deck and porch builder

In addition to decks, porches can certainly benefit from the use of low maintenance materials and we will walk you through which materials make sense for your new screen porch. Give us a call for a free consultation (913) 851 – 3325 or send us an email at kansascity@archadeck.net. Visit our screen porch photo gallery for ideas and inspiration.

An AZEK deck and open porch in Overland Park KS

Before picture

When these Overland Park homeowners called us, they had a nice outdoor area in their back yard but it wasn’t doing what they wanted it to. They had a nice pool they used extensively for grandchildren and family. They had small patio with no shade adjacent to the pool which was next to a gravel landscaping area that wasn’t very attractive.

The outdoor living area had no sun protection so they wanted to have a partially shaded structure for those not swimming to enjoy the pool without as much sun. They didn’t want any screens on the porch, just an open view to enhance the ambiance of their outdoor living. They wanted the porch to match their house and look like an extension of their home.

AZEK pool deck with open porch and bench Overland Park KS

Thinking about the flow from the house to the covered porch, there are a couple of things that are important. One is to have the walk-out from the house at the level of the house. Someone carrying food could easily trip if there’s a big step up or down. Another consideration is whether you want continuous shade or protection from the elements in that transition. To this end, we connected the open porch roof to the house so they can walk directly under the porch from the house.

The patio is well finished. It has ceiling fans, lights, and even heaters attached to the painted beadboard ceiling.

The owners wanted to add an extended outdoor living area with a view of the pool that did not include sun protection. So, continuing from the floor of the open porch is a low elevation deck. The deck and the attached bench are made of AZEK in the brownstone color. This light color also has a cooler surface. The deck is raised slightly so there is air flow under the deck to make the deck even cooler and easier on the feet on hot days.

AZEK brownstone color deck and porch in Overland Park KS

In the design process, our goal is to translate the goals of how you want to live into an area that meets each of those needs whether this includes a light decking color with ventilation for a cool surface temperature or a more elevated roof to a covered porch for a more open an airy feel. Share your outdoor living goals and desires with your contractor so they can truly come up with a custom solution that meets your needs and how you want to live. For a free consultation about creating an outdoor living area or area to compliment your home and outdoor living goals, give us a call (913) 851 – 3325, email us http://kansas-city.archadeck.com/ or visit our website to view more pictures and submit a request for a free consultation.

Darker composite colors are quite popular in Kansas City

AZEK PVC Kansas City Acacia Morado and Redland Rose

AZEK PVC Acacia Morado and Redland Rose

Picking colors for your next interior or exterior design project is always a fun but challenging task. Many of us turn to recent home magazines or to a retail store for color inspiration. For this task, many of us may even browse paint swatches. It’s a great way to put colors side by side to see how they compliment each other. One thing you’ll notice right away in magazines, stores and paint departments everywhere is dark colors.

Fiberon Horizon Kansas City Composite colors Ipe Rosewood Tudor

Fiberon Horizon composite colors Ipe Rosewood Tudor

Colors, as you probably already know run in trends. For example, white cabinetry was hot for a long time, now however it’s not as popular with new builds. Everything associated with a home runs in trends as well. Like the oil robbed bronze and satin nickels fixtures that are so hot right now. Ten years ago it was polished brass and chrome. Dark colors are very popular in design right now. Furniture, flooring, cabinetry and outdoor decorating materials are all leaning toward dark colors that favor cherry, dark brown stained cedar and darker reds such as the Brazilian hardwood Ipe.

When composites were originally introduced over 15 years ago, there was little to no color selection. The consumer has now demanded lots of choices so all of the manufacturers have expanded their choices. When they first expanded, there were still 2-3 choices. Now it’s not uncommon for manufacturers, particularly AZEK, to have up to 10 choices for colors. The range of choice over the last 10 years has grown exponentially as the manufacturers have tried to meet consumer demands so many of the new selections are in the darker colors.

Trex Composite Kansas City Tree House Lava Rock and Spiced Rub

Trex Composite Tree House Lava Rock and Spiced Rub

If you are thinking about using composites for your next deck project, you will see that their lines include colors that cover the entire spectrum often having boards as light as white and boards in very dark brown or even black. What our customers are choosing right now are the dark brown and dark red colors. Throughout this post are some of the colors that are currently popular. I’ve also included links to their sites so you can see more colors.

TimberTech XLM Kansas City Mountain Cedar and Harvest Bronze

TimberTech XLM Kansas City Mountain Cedar and Harvest Bronze

TimberTech XLM is TimberTech’s PVC composite line. Popular darker colors in this line include. Pacific Teak and Pacific Rosewood

TimberTech Kansas City Pacific Teak and Pacific Rosewood

TimberTech Kansas City Pacific Teak and Pacific Rosewood

TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions is the newest line from TimberTech. This line combines the strength of composite with the finish strength and benefits of PVC. Pacific Teak and Pacific Rosewood are two of the very appealing dark shades.

Here in Kansas City, we also use EverGrain Composite decking. Evergrain has some really nice decking colors.This CherryWood color enjoys a rich reddish look.

EverGrain cherry wood Kansas City Deck Builder

EverGrain cherry wood

Whether a dark color is the right choice for your next outdoor project or whether a lighter, more subtle nuanced shade is best, give us a call to discuss design options. Our office number is 913-851-3325. Or, you can email us at kansascity@archadeck.net.

Plain and simple, the only thing that looks like wood — is wood.

Screened porch with stained ACQ pressure-treated wood in Overland Park, KS

Screened porch with stained ACQ pressure-treated wood in Overland Park, KS

When we think deck, we think wood. With all of the talk about composite decks, one may be led to believe that’s the only good option. Wood is still a REALLY good option for a deck. Plain and simple, wood is still a great option. The only thing that looks like wood — is wood.

Last week, we posted a story called “Do you REALLY want a composite deck?” At Archadeck, our job is to counsel you about the options, help you decide what is best for you, and build the absolute best product for you.

Regarding composites, many of our customers hear all of the benefits of composite decking and PVC decking and assume that’s the only thing that will suit their needs. It seems funny to me but many people think Archadeck is a composite decking product. In fact, we are a custom builder and we use every sort of decking material imaginable depending on what our customers want and what makes the most sense for them. We build decks with pressure-treated wood, natural wood such as cedar, composite wood such as TimberTech and Evergrain, PVC and PVC capped boards which TimberTech also has as well as AZEK and Trex, and last but not least – hardwood. Naturally composite woods are gaining in popularity because of the benefits I mentioned in the last post.

There are many pre-conceived notions and misconceptions about woods as well as many familiar memories. When we think of wood decks, inevitably we remember a couple splinters we received from a wooden dock or deck as a child. Or, we may also think of our own current deck or a deck from a past home that was made of natural wood and suffered from splitting or cracking or molding. These are all true. All wood will suffer from various wear, use and aging depending on the type of wood, how the wood is treated, and the amount of direct sun the wood receives. In fact, composites and PVC decking also suffer from various issues but mostly to a lower degree. It’s a tradeoff. With more expense comes more benefits.

Cedar deck

Cedar deck

There are several reasons to build a wood deck

A wooden deck is A LOT LESS EXPENSIVE.

A wooden deck still lasts a long time. Depending on the type of wood you plan to use, your wood deck may last 15 years or even longer if well cared for and maintained. A composite deck or hardwood deck may last 30-50 years although many of us will have moved to a different house in that span of time.

A wooden deck is familiar and comfortable. It’s reminiscent of the deck you had as a kid. That “gray” color that wood naturally fades to is very appealing if you like the natural effect of aging and weathering. The docks we walked on as children and the decks we played on as children were made of natural wood.

With the various pressure treatments of wood, pressure-treated wood suffers from fewer issues than it did in the past.

Kansas City cedar covered deck

Kansas City cedar covered deck

Let me tell you first what hasn’t changed. A natural wood or pressure-treated wood deck will gray out if not stained and sealed on a regular schedule – every 2-3 years or so. Natural wood such as cedar or redwood will still crack, split and splinter but they do have some rot resistance. Pressure-treated wood will also do this but has the added benefit that the treatment prevents rot and termites.

One of the big things to ask yourself if considering a wood deck is how much maintenance do you want to do on your deck. The next question is how long do you want your deck to last. This depends greatly on the amount of sun your deck or structure will receive. Nothing speeds up the process of aging faster than direct sunlight. The more direct sunlight and the hotter the sunlight that hits your deck, the faster the wood will age.

As you can imagine the question of whether to build with wood, composite or PVC is not an easy question. With more expense comes some different features and benefits. Composite boards are more consistent. They don’t have imperfections. Wood has imperfections such as knots but this is also what endears us to wood.

Don’t forget that a wood deck will still last a long time and although far from the only option, is still a really good option.

To discuss your new project and what material might be best for you, give us a call at (913) 851 – 3325 or email kansascity@archadeck.net.

The Skinny On Today’s Railings

When selecting railings for your next outdoor project, you might be surprised that there are a lot more options than you think. The railing industry has exploded in the last few years. There are many choices in colors, materials, width, and required maintenance. But, overall the trend is very quickly turning toward thin metal railings for their aesthetic appeal and because thin railings allow more visibility beyond your deck. Here’s the “skinny” on railings.

Ipe deck with Deckorator tube railing

A few years ago, the next big thing in railing was vinyl railings. Vinyl is used most exclusively in white. Vinyl is inexpensive but the trade-off is it is not very structurally sound. Vinyl is sensitive to scratching, it fades and it usually has to be reinforced on the inside with wood or metal. The bottom line is it’s inexpensive for a reason.

Beautiful Hardwood deck by Archadeck Kansas City

Composite railings are a low-maintenance option but there are also some drawbacks to composite railings. The cost of composite railings can be quite prohibitive. Also, railings made of composite woods are thicker and are square. While the drawbacks of a square rail are not readily apparent, there are more sides to paint on a square rail. There are more sides to clean. You can multiply your efforts in staining, sealing and cleaning by four.

For this and other reasons, metal railing has really hit its stride. As for adding metal railings to your project, most consumers no longer want everything to match. Railings today are increasingly seen in contrasting colors instead of matching colors. Customers now want a railing with character and they want a railing they can see through. Metal railings are more slender than wood or vinyl railings ( typically 50% of the thickness or less). Metal railings combine view, strength, rigidity, durability, beauty and low maintenance all in one.

The most popular railing color over the last few years is black. Regardless of the deck color, with it’s upscale look and low maintenance, black metal railing is a tremendously popular choice.

The two most common types of metal railings are steel and aluminum. These railings are often powder coated. Fortress steel railing is made of steel and is powder coated.  Deckorator also makes metal railings and that’s a product we build with quite a bit.

Timbertech also offers a wonderful rail of reinforced composite, it comes in black and white, and it is more scratch resistant, durable and doesn’t need reinforcement to maintain rigidity. Radiance Rail has been a big seller with Archadeck Kansas City in black, with many happy customers.

Whether you are considering the ever popular metal railings, or a wonderful composite give Archadeck of Kansas City a call today and we can discuss all the possibilities to custom design and build your next deck or outdoor structure.