Our Current Blog Articles
June 22, 2017
Why a Deck Railing Shouldn't Be an Afterthought
In this article from Carefree Decks and Patio Covers, we’re going to explain why a deck railing shouldn’t be an afterthought. Sometimes customers get so caught up in picking out the perfect decking that they forget about the railing! However, in most areas, railings are required by municipal building codes. Also, just think about what guests will notice first. The railing almost always draws the eye long before the decking does.
The railing is a great way to add style and character to your home and compliment your decking. So, don’t treat it is an afterthought, instead make it the main event and you will have your guests going wow the moment they first lay eyes on it. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.
Most railings are built in essentially the same manner. They are typically comprised of rail posts, top and bottom rails, brackets, crush blocks, and infill. Let’s talk about what each of these components does for your railing.
The rail posts serve to anchor the railing firmly to the decking. They often have post caps and base moldings to add a more finished look to the final product. The top and bottom rails, along with rail posts serve as the framework for the rest of the railing. These can be purely cosmetic in nature (outside of their original function as part of the framework) as with sculpted top rails. Or you can use flat-topped rails to have a handy place to set down your drink or even decorate your space with a few potted plants or other fun accessories.
Brackets are used to attach the top and bottom rails to the rail posts. It is important to choose bracket materials, like stainless steel, that won’t rust or corrode over time. Some styles even offer a sharp, clean look with hidden brackets and still others take advantage of the brackets and use them to create bold color contrast with the rest of the railing.
Crush blocks serve to support the infill in between the rail posts to help prevent the railing from sagging over time. And, last but not least, the infill is the bulk of the railing. It fills in the space between the top and bottom rails and rail posts. Choose your infill wisely as this is the largest, most obvious portion of your railing and will have the biggest impact on your home’s aesthetic.
A fun way to jazz up your style and add a bit of a different look to your deck railing is to add rail lighting. Not only does it add a nice accent, but it also extends the usability of your deck or porch until the sun goes down. You can use rail lighting to highlight or draw attention to certain parts of your porch or use it evenly to light up your space and party all evening long.
You can choose post cap lights that add a subtle glow by encircling the post cap with a clear ring that has a LED light inside. Or you can opt for post sleeve lights. These are little circular lights that gently direct light downward to illuminate and reflect from the floor. These are particularly great when your purpose is to spotlight features. Another great option is to add lights to the stairs. That’s an excellent way not only to add pizzazz but also to improve safety.
Choose Your Colors!
Now it’s time for the fun part. There are literally hundreds of looks that you can create with your deck railing simply by choosing different styles and colors. Combining accent colors gives you, even more, options for jazzing up your space. Just remember to make sure that it works with the rest of your home also. You don’t want to spend time and money installing a super awesome deck that ends up detracting from the overall look of your home because it doesn’t fit.
So here are a few tips for choosing the perfect colors for your railings. A safe way to ensure that it works with your home is to match the color of the railing to the trim on your house. If you’re good at choosing complementing colors, you may want to get crazy and pick something that is complementary to your house color instead.
Also, think about your home’s style. A lot of the more modern home styles work well with darker railing colors while older farmhouse, colonial or Cape Cod style homes look fantastic with a classic white railing. Of course, it’s up to you how traditional or crazy you want to go--just be sure it works because you’ll be looking at it for a while!
Another thing to keep in mind is how prominent you want the railing to be. For example, on a back porch with a fantastic view, you may want to choose thin infill for your railing in darker, more muted colors so that the railing doesn’t detract from the view. On the flip side, if your backyard space isn’t that exciting, you may want to use a railing in highly contrasting colors to add some pizzazz and draw attention away from whatever otherwise dull view your guests would have. It’s all about personalizing your space in the right way.
In sum, now that you understand why a deck railing shouldn’t be an afterthought it’s time to decide what you want to do with it. We hope that these tips have been helpful, but reading a couple of articles will never be a great substitute for real, professional advice. So, don’t be afraid to call us here at Carefree Decks and Patio Covers. A member of our friendly staff will be happy to help you choose the perfect materials, style, and colors for your new outdoor installation.
Our 23 years of experience serving customers in the metro Denver area has given us a wealth of knowledge when it comes to what works, what doesn’t and what our clients are looking for. We’re sure that once we get done helping you design and install your new deck and railing, you’ll be eager to start throwing parties and invite everyone you know to come and see your new masterpiece!
May 16, 2017
Creating a Hot Tub Compatible Deck
Do you want to install a hot tub in your deck? Carefree Decks and Patio Covers offer these great tips for creating a hot tub compatible deck to help you better understand what you need to set up properly. You shouldn’t install a hot tub in just any existing deck. There needs to be added structural support, and certain electrical requirements must be met to ensure that your hot tub is safe to use.
Choose the Right Hot Tub for You
There are two types of hot tubs, and they actually have different names although most people usually refer to both of them as hot tubs. A unit full of hot water is a hot tub, one with circulating jets is actually a spa. Regardless of which type you choose (or what you call it) each kind and size will have different requirements for building a deck. So, it’s important to settle on a specific hot tub or spa unit before you begin designing your deck.
Hot tubs and spas are not cheap, and there are various models with all sorts of impressive features. While you can have fun picking out one with cool LED lights, a stereo system and integrated cupholders, be sure to take care of the important stuff. For example, be sure to get one with full foam insulation. This insulation between the cabinet wall and the inner shell helps to keep down the noise as well as minimize heat loss. It also helps to increase the overall stability of the unit.
Determine and Build the Necessary Structural Support
Hot tubs are immensely heavy. If you think about it practically the dry weight of the unit, plus the water, plus people inside and you start getting the idea that the deck underneath will have to be pretty strong to handle all that. It is best to place your hot tub on a flat, level surface (like a concrete slab). This slab in most cases can be about 3 ½ - 4 inches thick, although bigger hot tubs might require a thicker slab.
So, how do you find out how heavy your hot tub could potentially be? This is important to know how much structural support will be necessary. You simply add the dry weight of the hot tub, plus its capacity for water using 8.3 pounds for every gallon, and the maximum number of people at an average weight of 185 pounds per person.
Just to give an idea of how heavy a hot tub can be, here’s an example. Let’s say you have a 56-square foot hot tub that holds 420 gallons of water and has space for 6-7 people. The dry weight of the tub is about 855 pounds plus 3500 pounds for the water and 1295 pounds for the people. That’s a whopping 5655 pounds! Now you probably understand why proper construction and structural support is so important. You really can’t skimp on it.
Determine the Best Location
There are a few factors you can take note of that can help you determine the best position for your hot tub. If your deck is small, you want to make sure that there is sufficient space to open the cover and also allow for airflow around the unit. These are pretty much the only factors that are necessary, but there are a few others we can mention that will help ensure that your hot tub is easy to keep clean and maximizes your comfort.
For example, try not to put your hot tub under trees, or you will be always cleaning out the tree debris. Think about privacy and put it in a spot that isn’t easily seen by the neighbors--or put up a privacy screen or other design element to block their view. Take advantage of your scenery, if you have it, but be aware that you don’t block your view from the house with the unit itself. Finally, place it near an entrance to your home so you can make a mad dash into your home on chilly evenings without getting too cold.
Electrical Safety Considerations
When creating a hot tub compatible deck, it's imperative that you take into account electrical safety when installing your hot tub or spa. We’re talking about putting water and electricity together, and we all know that these two elements are not friends. You don’t want yourself, family or friends to get caught in the crossfire.
First, you will need a power source nearby the hot tub’s location. Always hire a licensed electrician to set this up. You don’t want to make mistakes here. There should also always be a ground-fault circuit interrupter installed and ready to cut the current if it detects something fishy with the current’s flow. There should also be an emergency shut-off positioned close by, usually within 5-15 feet of the unit.
Other Safety Considerations
You might like the look of a hot tub recessed flush into a deck, but this can be a safety hazard as it is easier to fall into. This is especially important if you are going to have small children in the area. Instead, many experts recommend installing the unit, so it’s edge is 17-24 inches above the deck. This is safer, and makes it easier to enter the hot tub as you can sit on the ledge and swing into the tub rather than trying to climb down into it. Of course, if your unit is to sit on top of the deck, then you will need stairs for easy access. At Carefree, we’ll walk you through the best ways to construct a safe deck.
Eventually, your hot tub will require some maintenance. If you install your hot tub so that there is no easy access to the motor, you will find yourself with a big headache later. Either install your tub so one side is accessible or provide an access panel for recessed tubs.
A hot tub is a wonderful, relaxing addition to any backyard oasis and creating a hot tub compatible deck is not that difficult. It becomes even easier when you rely on the expert tips and advice offered by the professionals at Carefree Decks and Patio Covers. Give us a call today to get started and have your tub ready to relax and enjoy all year round!
April 14, 2017
Should You Choose Pavers or Stamped Concrete?
Today at Carefree Decks and Patio Covers, we tackle the question: should you choose pavers or stamped concrete? Both are viable options for beautifying your outdoor space. Choosing a unique walkway, driveway or backyard patio is a great way to add that little bit of pizzazz to your home. However, as you can imagine, each type of material comes with its own set of pluses and minuses.
Generally, when you are considering what type of materials to use for a project, there are 4 main areas of concern. Of course, aesthetic appeal is important to everyone. Safety should also be a consideration, so with outdoor flooring, be conscience of slipping hazards. This is often one of the main reasons people install new pathways or patios. Maintenance is a big deal as no one wants to have to spend a lot of time and money on upkeep. Finally, the cost is super important and can often be the make or break factor.
Pavers and stamped concrete both have their good points and their not-so-good points. Both make for attractive and reasonably affordable options, but one or the other may offer a better solution for your situation. Let’s look at both and see how each one performs in each of the 4 areas.
Even though aesthetics is the least important aspect practically, it is the first thing everyone thinks of when planning and the first thing your guests will notice upon arrival. Aesthetics are very important as the reason many people even consider installing outdoor flooring is that they want to improve the look of their outdoor space.
So, which one looks better? Well, obviously, that’s going to be personal opinion. Some people absolutely love the texture and versatility afforded by stamped concrete. You can even use stamped concrete to mimic other natural materials (think brick, slate or flagstone) to create the exact look you want. For this reason, some people feel it makes a more impactful first impression and wows your guests upon arrival.
On the other hand, pavers offer a beautiful, natural look that can be designed using a wide variety of colors, shapes and surface finishes. The material naturally grants a lot of flexibility in its design, and many people love the ability to personalize the pattern to such a high degree.
There is no clear winner in the aesthetics category. It truly comes down to personal taste and what type of look you prefer. Let’s move along and consider the other 3 categories to help you determine a winner for your home.
Safety concerns are generally not the first thing that people think of when choosing materials. However, they are obviously a critical consideration. The main safety concerns with any type of flooring are slipping and tripping.
Stamped concrete is a continuous slab. That means when it gets wet it does tend to get slippery, quickly. Another concern that when it is wet its smooth surface reflects more and produces more glare during the daytime, which can be a real headache for some people.
Pavers, while they might not get as slippery due to their good water drainage, do tend to offer a tripping hazard. When pavers are first installed, the surface is usually very even, and tripping is not too serious of a problem. However, over time as the ground settles and the pavers shift, the surface can become deceptively uneven and pose a significant hazard.
Just as with the other aspects, maintenance is a very significant aspect of choosing the right materials. Nobody wants to spend all their free time upkeeping and maintaining their outdoor decoration; they want to be enjoying it.
Stamped concrete is a bit of a hassle when it is first installed. It requires 3-5 days of curing before you can even walk on it. Because of its continuous nature, it is more prone to cracks than pavers. Many factors (like traffic, hot and cold temperature changes, settling, and shrinkage) affect how quickly cracks may appear. Unfortunately, you can be assured that they probably will appear at some point. For this reason, people often choose a textured pattern that will help to hide cracks as they appear.
Pavers generally are not as delicate. You don’t have to wait 3-5 days to start using them, and they are not nearly as prone to cracking. Because they are individual pieces, they have the flexibility to move with settling and hot and cold pressure changes. It is also easier to replace just one section if it gets damaged and make the patch look uniform with the old pavers. However, you do have to be aware that from time to time you will need to buy sand to fill the spaces between the pavers.
Sometimes when you can’t decide on a material, it comes down to cost. Fortunately, both are relatively affordable options. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help much for the decision-making process.
The upfront cost of stamped concrete is generally less than that of pavers. However, long-term costs are harder to gauge. Because of environmental factors and the fact that both materials work so much better when they are properly installed and maintained the same material in one person’s yard might last longer and or be less expensive to maintain than in another person’s yard. The long-term cost is just one of the reasons why it is so important to choose a reputable company to install your outdoor flooring regardless which material chosen.
Carefree Decks and Patio Covers has been providing excellent deck and patio services to our neighbors here in the metro Denver area for over 20 years. We would be happy to help you find the answer to the question, should you choose pavers or stamped concrete? Because we are acquainted with these materials, the climate in our area and proper installation methods for these outdoor flooring options, you can trust us to point you in the right direction for your home and budget.
Contact us today to request a free quote on pavers, stamped concrete or any other project you’d like to take on to beautify your outdoor space.
March 12, 2017
Finding the Perfect Railing for Your New Deck
At Carefree Decks and Patio Covers, we know that finding the perfect railing for your new deck is not always an easy task. But if you want a great cohesive look for your home, it is an important one. You don’t want to put a lot of thought and money and effort into building an awesome new deck only to have the effect ruined by a so-so or just plain ugly railing.
Because of the natural line of sight of a human, your guests’ eyes will be drawn to the railing first, making it an important piece of the first impression. To help you with this important task, Carefree Decks and Patio Covers have put together this helpful guide to make finding the perfect railing for your new deck a piece of cake.
Carefully Consider your Surroundings
Keep in mind that the overall look of your deck doesn’t just encompass the deck itself, but also includes everything in the vicinity. To get the best overall effect, you must consider everything around the area where you want to build the deck including proximity to the house (color and style of the house), the view or lack thereof, and the level of privacy that you desire.
For example, let’s say your backyard affords a majestic mountain view or a great spot to watch the sunset. You won’t want your man-made deck to get in the way of all that natural beauty so it is best to choose a thin railing in dark colors to minimize the appearance of the railing, blocking the views as little as possible. However, if your backyard is small and the neighbors are close, choosing a thicker railing is an excellent way to create a more feeling private space for you and your guests to enjoy.
Not all decking materials are created equal--some are more expensive than others, and some require more work and upkeep than others. For example, wood is classically beautiful but unfortunately can rot and decay faster than other materials. To slow that process you must keep up on re-staining and sealing it frequently, which can get to be a bit of a headache.
Glass might be great to see that view, but you will constantly have to clean the fingerprints and dust off of it if you want to be able to see the view through it. On the flip side composites, PVC and aluminum are all great options for versatility and easy maintenance. You only have to decide what is most important to you and what works best for your budget.
Consider Building Codes
This should go without saying, but not everyone thinks about it. When you are deciding on a deck railing design, be sure to check out your local building codes to ensure that what you want complies. Different areas have different codes, so what might work in one area won’t necessarily be allowed in another. It’s good to keep this in mind during the early stages, so you don’t get to the end of planning and realize you’ll have to start all over again because an integral part of your design doesn’t comply with one of the rules.
Of course, working with a reputable company like Carefree Decks will help with this tremendously. We make it our business to know the rules and ensure that we are playing by them and always advise our customers about possible violations. It’s just one of the ways that we can provide excellent service to our clients!
Consider Color and Style
This is the most fun part and where you get to express your personal brand of creativity. One of the great things about modern innovation is that the possibilities are virtually endless when creating the perfect color/style combination to perfectly accent your deck and your home. You can quite literally do almost anything you want. The frustrating thing is that with so many options it can feel overwhelming to many homeowners. Here, we offer a few basic design ideas to help narrow things down a little and get you started on the right track.
- Coordinate – This is the safe route for those who prefer a low-key and a risk-free design. Choose a deck and railing that are all the same color, and you can create a sophisticated, somewhat muted, classic look. This look is easy to pull off and easy to coordinate with the color of your house.
- Contrast – This is pretty much the opposite of coordinating. This idea consists of choosing a railing color that will stand out in stark contrast to your deck. For example, you might pair a white railing with a dark deck or a black railing with a lighter colored deck. Keep in mind, if you have a view you want to showcase, dark railings are exceptional for blending into the background and not drawing the eye away from the view.
- Mix and Match – This option of course is for the creatives out there who enjoy working with different colors and moods. This is where you can go crazy and really let your personality shine even in something as mundane as your deck. With all the color, style, and even texture options (depending on the material you choose) there is virtually no end to the combinations that you could create. For those of you that really want this look, but don’t know how to create it on your own, you can always talk to us here at Carefree Decks and one of our expert designers will help you create your vision--even if you don’t know exactly what you are envisioning yet.
That goes for all areas of deck design. We have been hard at work on this family-owned and operated business since 1995, so we are literally full of experience and ideas and can help you choose the perfect deck and railing for your home. Our staff is friendly and helpful and happy to answer any and all of your questions.
So, the next time that you focus on finding the perfect railing for your new deck, don’t hesitate to call us here at Carefree Decks and Patio Covers. We will get you on the right track quickly and you will have your dream deck designed, built, and installed before you know it! This is the perfect time to get started so that your deck will be all ready for summer barbecues once the weather warms up again this year.
February 17, 2017
Is Trex decking really ECO friendly
Here at Carefree Decks and Patio Covers, we’re often asked, is Trex decking really ECO-friendly? While being green and environmentally friendly are fancy buzzwords thrown around a lot these days, many of our customers are very committed to taking good care of our earth. They know that there are a lot of misleading labels out there and come to us for advice when considering this decking product. And we can confidently say that Trex products are ECO-friendly and here are a few reasons why.
First off, a fascinating fact is that Trex has been being using green processes to produce their products for more than 20 years, long before being green became a fancy trend. That’s because they aren’t doing it just to keep up with the trends. As a company, they are dedicated to doing their part to help preserve the planet, and it isn’t just for show or to get good publicity. It’s out of a commitment to a better way of life and to preserving our planet.
So, you might be wondering how they do it? How do they manufacture great products at reasonable prices that help save the world one deck at a time? It’s pretty simple really. They start by using the right basic materials and have developed strategies for processing them.
When you buy a Trex deck, you will be walking on an impressively sturdy material almost entirely made out of recycled wood and recycled plastic film products. In fact, to be a bit more exact, a whopping 95% of the materials used in your deck are recycled materials!
That’s the big picture with Trex decking. However, exactly what the base materials are and where they get them from also plays a role. Plus, manufacturing protocols play a huge role. It wouldn’t be so good to pat themselves on the back for using nearly all recycled products for their base materials if their manufacturing process was spewing pollutants into the air. So, let’s break it down.
Let’s start with where the wood comes from. There is wood in the composite material, and it has to come from somewhere. Some companies plant trees to offset the ones they use for building materials. Trex doesn’t have to do that because they don’t cut down a single tree. In fact, the company is proud of the fact that they haven’t ever felled a tree for use in their products.
So, how do they do it? They source reclaimed wood that would normally go to the landfill. They turn it into sawdust and get it ready to be mixed with other ingredients in order to create the sturdy composite material used in all their decks. Plus, they seek the best local sources in order to cut down on the need for shipping.
Recycled Plastic Film
You know all those pesky plastic bags that are ending up in landfills and causing all sorts of problems in the oceans? Well, Trex is doing more than their part to keep those bags from going to the landfill.
The composite material they use to build decks is created by mixing sawdust with ground-up plastic waste. This plastic comes from all sorts of products. Examples include the wrapping on rolls of paper towels, sandwich bags, newspaper sleeves and of course the pesky plastic shopping bag.
An interesting note, on average a 500-square foot Trex deck will contain approximately 140,000 plastic bags! That means you can salvage 140,000 plastic bags from going to the landfill just by buying a new Trex deck. They use so many plastic bags, in fact, that they’ve earned the honor of being one of the largest plastic bag recyclers in the United States. That’s something we all can get behind.
Still wondering is Trex decking really ECO-friendly? Keep reading.
Green Manufacturing Processes
However, for Trex, it’s not enough that they merely recycle and save so much garbage from the landfill. They are also committed to using eco-friendly manufacturing processes to limit their own production’s impact on the environment.
They’ve found ways to eliminate smoke stacks! Plus, their strategically located factories help to reduce their rate of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. All of these methods are both relevant and achieved with their strategic planning.
But even that’s not good enough for Trex. They’ve also figure out how to use almost 100% of their factory runoff. It goes right back into the manufacturing line. They even run their trailers on vegetable based oil hydraulics. They seriously think of everything!
Going the Extra Mile
On top of all they do within their company, Trex is also committed to improving sound environmental practices in communities. They work with other members of the U.S. Green Building Council to change design ideas for buildings and communities to be more eco-friendly and aware. The purpose of these projects is to create environmentally and socially responsible places that will improve the quality of life for everyone!
If you are familiar with the LEED points offered by the U.S. Green Building Council for cost effective and eco-friendly projects and are looking to raise your score, Trex decking is an excellent way to add points to your project. You can get up to 5 points for using their products, 4 for Materials and Resources and 1 for Innovation and Design. That’s because of the over 400 million pounds of plastic and wood waste that they save from the landfills each year.
So, for these reasons and more, Carefree Decks is proud to install Trex decking products and tout their green and eco-friendly qualities. They have proven to be excellent, durable products and their eco-friendliness is icing on the cake.
Now that you know the answer to is Trex decking really ECO-friendly, don’t hesitate to talk to one of our experts here at Carefree Decks about using this product. We’ve been building decks and more in the Denver area for 23 years. We’ve had lots of experience with what works and what doesn’t, and you can trust our expertise and knowledge to help you pick the right solution for your needs. Give us a call today to talk to one of our specialists and set up an appointment. We promise that you will love the transformation, and can rest easy knowing you did your part to protect the environment in the process.