Our Current Blog Articles
August 9, 2017
Your Choices for Deck Building Materials
Here at Carefree Decks and Patio Covers in Denver, Colorado, we want you to share your choices for deck building materials. Having at least a general working knowledge of the decking material options out there will help you make an informed decision and settle on the perfect material for your decking needs.
We understand that cost is a big factor. Choosing the best quality, most beautiful materials out there usually requires a heftier investment. However, something to keep in mind when choosing a material is that while some options are more expensive initially, cheaper materials end up costing a lot more in maintenance costs within just a few years – and will generally have to be replaced more often.
For example, cedar and redwood (both softwoods) have been popular for years as decking materials and are not too expensive. However, they require cleaning and resealing each year, the cost of which can add up over time. Composite decking can initially cost a bit more, but with the savings in maintenance costs over time it can end up being significantly cheaper.
Now let’s take a look at some common decking materials and discuss some of their pluses and minuses. The information supplied here will help with your choice, but you can always speak to one of our experts for more detailed information.
Pressure-treated wood consists of fir treated with chemicals intended to reduce rotting and insecticides to discourage insect infestations. This helps eliminate some of the traditional problems with wood decking. This is a relatively low-cost option, and though it comes in one basic color, wood stains can be used to customize the look a little. It is a hardy deck building material that will last for years as long as it is properly maintained with a new coat of stain or clear sealant approximately every other year.
Cedar is a wood popular for its natural beauty. It is also on the inexpensive side but must be refinished yearly in order to reach its life expectancy of around 20 years. There are two types that you should be on the lookout for, heartwood and sapwood. Sapwood is less hardy and can rot within a few years, so the darker colored heartwood is a better choice.
Redwood is also a wood prized for its looks and makes a gorgeous outdoor deck. Unlike cedar, however, it is more on the expensive end of things. It has also become rarer and is generally only available on the West Coast. There are also heartwood and sapwood varieties, with heartwood being the more durable choice. A well-cared for redwood deck can be expected to last a maximum of 20 years.
Vinyl, or PVC, decking is a newer option that has been gaining popularity. It does tend to be on the more expensive side, but a great benefit is that it requires little to no maintenance and usually comes with a 25-year warranty. If you plan to be in your house for several years, the lack of maintenance costs (and the work required) can make that initial investment in this deck material very worth it.
Composite decking is a material made by mixing wood fibers with recycled polyethylene. This type of decking offers the natural beauty of wood decking while minimizing the drawbacks. You can choose from several different colors and textures designed to simulate various types of wood. Planks can even be bent with specialized equipment to create attractive inlaid designs and add a unique touch to your deck. It can come with up to a 25-year warranty and while maintenance is minimal, a thorough cleaning every 3 or 4 years will limit mold and rotting problems.
Ipe is a hardwood that comes from South America. It is highly prized as a beautiful wood that is much more resistant to decay than the other varieties we’ve mentioned. Its durability comes at a price, however, as the hardness of the wood makes installation much more challenging. The wood itself is pretty expensive as it has to be imported and the price can vary significantly. To maintain its beauty, it needs to be sealed once a year and a well-cared for deck can last up to 25 years.
As we’ve mentioned, when looking at your choices for deck building materials, don’t let just the initial cost drive your budgeting decisions. Maintenance costs can vary widely, and because Colorado has some pretty wild and severe weather, you can expect that maintenance to cost a bit more than average. You might think that you can save money by skimping or stretching the time between re-sealing or re-staining but that can end up costing more as the work required becomes more extensive.
A few new forms of decking are beginning to enter the market, but have yet to show off their long-term results. These include aluminum (which is coated with a substance to eliminate the “ping” sound), wood infused with glass to help lower its maintenance, and thermally cured wood which is also designed to be more resilient and better resist insects, fungus and mold.
All in all, there are quite a few options for decking materials available on the market today. We’ve focused mainly on durability and cost when discussing these materials, but keep in mind the style as well. Your choices for deck building materials will create a different overall look, and you want to choose something that matches the style of your home and adds the right kind of atmosphere. That helps to increase the value of your home for when you sell. Aesthetics are paramount, and a little bit higher initial investment could be worth it in the long run.
To learn more about your choices for deck building materials, don’t be afraid to ask the friendly professionals here at Carefree Decks and Patio Covers. We’ve had over 20 years of experience building custom decks in the Denver area, so we are well acquainted with the climatic rigors of this area and which materials are the best options. Take a moment to look through the gallery on our website, and you will see the excellent work we provide.
July 26, 2017
How to Personalize Your Deck Design
Today at Carefree Decks and Patio Covers, we want to share a bit about how to personalize your deck design for your Denver metro home. There are plenty of ways to personalize your outdoor space. Materials, styles, and colors for the deck itself are just the beginning. There are also lots of great add-on ideas and or accessories that you can use to create a space perfect for you and your family!
Whether you are building a deck from scratch or reinventing an existing outdoor space, first think about your favorite activities and what you want to be able to use your outdoor space for. Do you want relaxation to be essential? Do you want space for activities? Will you be barbecuing and having lots of people over frequently? What about having a television? Do you want to have game-day parties on your back porch? Or maybe you enjoy a mix the includes all of the above?
Now that you have a good idea of what you want to use your space for, all that’s left is to create and build your deck for the perfect backyard oasis! So let's talk more about how to personalize your deck design.
Most people will find that space for relaxation makes it onto their list of desired uses for their outdoor space. There are a variety of things you can add to create a relaxing space the way you like it. For those that like the idea of reading a book or taking a nap while gently swaying in the breeze a nice spot for a hammock in the shade is a great idea. Or to utilize storage space, you can install a built-in bench and adorn it with comfy pillows. For relaxing with friends, you can create a cozy nook with comfy chairs or even add a hot tub to really enjoy a relaxing evening.
Barbecues and Parties
Another extremely popular desire for outdoor deck building is the ability to fire up the grill and have your friends over for a rousing evening. Touches like built-in coolers or even an outdoor television are ideal for keeping the party going whether or not the Denver Broncos win. Enough extra space for games is often useful if your yard is big enough to accommodate.
Make Outside like Inside
There are a lot of great accents you can add to your outdoor deck space to make it feel more like an extension of your home, but being able to enjoy fresh air at the same time. You can use weather resistant rugs, pillows and throws to make your space comfortable and more vibrant. Don’t forget a patio cover for shade dressed up with all-weather draperies to add privacy or splashes of color.
We here at Carefree Decks and Patio Covers hope this information on how to personalize your deck design has been helpful to you. If you’re still looking for more ideas, or of course professionals to implement the ideas you already have, give us a call. We can help with everything from design ideas to installation to ensure that everything meets municipal codes. So, don’t hesitate! Let’s get started right away on building the outdoor space of your dreams so you can enjoy it for the rest of the summer.
July 13, 2017
Why Choose Equinox Louvered Roof Covers
Today Carefree Decks and Patio Covers offers some great reasons as to why choose Equinox louvered roof covers for your outdoor space. As you will see, traditional deck coverings (or lack thereof) each offer their own set of pros and cons. Equinox louvered roof covers have been designed to improve the cons of each, while still taking advantage of all the pros!
Typically, a completely uncovered patio or deck sees much less use than it’s covered counterparts because the hot summer sun often proves to be too intense. There is also the problem of rain or light showers on the days that it’s not too hot. So a roof is a good idea.
Lattice, Solid Roofs, Awnings
Lattice patio deck covers are awesome for providing shade but still allowing some sun rays through. However, they offer minimal to no protection from the rain. Solid roofs fix the rain problem but also don’t allow any sunlight to filter through during the cooler times of the year when you want it. An awning is great for addressing the rain/sun problem, but it’s either all or nothing and you have to be on top of things and retract it when high winds come up.
Equinox Louvered Roof Covers
Now you will see how Equinox louvered, patio deck covers address each of these issues. The roof can be opened to allow in sunlight, or closed off to make a waterproof cover on rainy days--all at the touch of a button. The roof is also strong enough to withstand the elements, so you don’t have to worry about it getting damaged during winter storms.
How It Works
The Equinox system is made up of interlocking panels that rotate to virtually any position. Fully closed, the panels form a waterproof seal, fully open they allow full sun onto your porch. You can also choose settings in between to allow for a bit of sun or still fully shaded but open a little to allow for hot air to be vented.
The system works on solar energy, so the easy automation doesn’t even cost anything. You can even set the system up on timers to have the roof opened and closed automatically, just how you want it! Plus, the extra shade provided by these patio deck covers reduces the amount of sunlight shining into and heating up your home, thereby reducing energy costs for air conditioning indoors.
The Equinox system comes in a huge variety of colors and styles so you can choose the perfect roof to go with your home. Whatever your home’s architectural style--gables, pitched roof, bay windows, angled roof or walls--an Equinox roof can be designed to accommodate and look suitable for your home.
Now that you’ve heard about all these great advantages it’s easy to see the reasons as to why choose Equinox louvered roof covers. Give us a call here at Carefree Patio and Deck Covers today, and we can explain all the pertinent details as well as get started on your installation! We’re confident that this is a decision you will most definitely not regret.
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!