Gravity…awesome to experience on a roller coaster or slide…not so great on you deck!

Roller coasterKnowing that gravity is an unfailing force is comforting, usually. It makes anything not firmly planted beneath the earth’s surface or properly attached to a stable structure eventually tumble to the ground. This thought doesn’t pop into your head until the moment you step onto something that wobbles or moves, even one that does it ever so slightly…such as walking across a swinging bridge in the mountains or while boarding a plane or ship…all of which you know to expect some movement. You should absolutely never experience this is when stepping out onto your deck; the most beloved spot for entertaining and relaxing. A well maintained, routinely inspected deck is one that gives you peace of mind each and every time you step on to it.

Logo - Deck SafetyMay, in the building industry is recognized as National Deck Safety Month and even though Archadeck of Central Maryland and Montgomery County helps to increase deck safety awareness during May, we feel deck maintenance should actually be conducted year-round to ensure safety. With a large portion of the approximately 40 million decks over 20 years old in the US, not being properly maintained or routinely inspected, it isn’t surprising that in a six-year period there were an estimated 179 deck failures resulting in 1,122 injuries and 33 deaths. What is startling, however, is the fact that according to NADRA, The North American Deck and Railing Association, deck failures that result in injury are increasing at an alarming rate and are mostly due to non-maintained, aged decks or just shoddy workmanship of a cut-rate builder.

Maryland_Bethesda_Baltimore_Best_Deck_Builder_Contractor_Outdoor_Living_SpecialistIf a deck is built by a reputable experienced builder, it will be built correctly meeting or exceeding building codes, and give you peace of mind in knowing your deck is safe and structurally sound from the ground up. A well-built deck that is both structurally sound and safe also includes the following components: ledger boards that are either bolted or screwed securely to side of the house; support posts that are mounted to concrete footers; diagonal and/or lateral post braces, proper railing and stairs as well as connectors and fasteners (such as galvanized or stainless steel bolts, screws, nails and joist and post connectors) specially designed for deck construction.

Just as it is with yours or your loved ones’ health (keeping an eye out for potential symptoms or health issues), when it comes to your deck’s safety, YOU are its first line of defense as well. And, since each of your family member’s health is directly affected by the safety of the things you use, you are killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. It’s as simple as doing a visual inspection of the deck each time you use it or are outside near it. If you see any rotten, cracked or damaged wood, or any loose, missing or corroded metal bracing or parts, it is recommended to have a structural engineer or an established, well-respected contractor evaluate your deck before its next use.

hassle-free no textDeck safety is a top priority and we want to ensure you or a member of your family doesn’t become a casualty as a result of an unsafe deck. Archadeck of Central Maryland and Montgomery County offers a thorough, certified deck safety inspection for a modest fee. You’ll receive a detailed checklist that highlights any necessary or suggested repairs or maybe your deck is good for a couple more years; we’ll let you know that too. Here are just a few of the critical areas our deck safety inspection covers: foundation and footings, the attachment to your home, decking boards, connections and fasteners, the posts, beams and joists (if visible) of the structure, any sagging between supports, as well as stairs and rails.

While we’re there to perform the inspection and upon your request we can also provide a free consultation on what would be involved with replacing your deck with an updated design that meets or exceeds all building code requirements and is best suited for your outdoor living needs.

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John Barrett Archadeck of MarylandIf you feel it’s time for your deck to be inspected for safety or are considering a new deck, or re-deck in the future, Archadeck of Central Maryland is the right choice for you. Our professional and talented staff members are experts at producing beautiful, quality outdoor living structures which are well designed and structurally sound. Contact us to learn more or to schedule your deck inspection or new project consultation today at (301) 926 – 3001 or email at centralmaryland@archadeck.net or montgomeryco@archadeck.net.

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An open porch/covered porch or screened porch – that is the question. See what these Highland MD owners chose.

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Archadeck of Maryland captures the charm and beauty of a by-gone era in covered porch design

When I think of the concept of an open porch design my mind drifts to the grace of a structure constructed with white columns where you spend the late afternoon relaxing and sipping iced tea. This image takes me back to a time when things were simpler and the world moved a little bit slower.  The covered porches of today encompass that same great architecture that we remember from an era gone by. Round columns used in an open covered porch are still hugely popular and are considered quite upscale. When you look at a screened porch, the first thing you notice are these columns, which is part of the covered porch’s appeal and charm. The columns are used to make an architectural statement as well as laying a firm foundation for the structural integrity of the structure itself.

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This gabled roof lends clean design lines in this covered porch by Archadeck of Maryland

We enjoy designing and building both screened porches, and covered or open porches. If you’re thinking about adding a new porch to your home, how do you decide which is best for you? I’ll talk about several factors that may help you decide whether screens or open air are best for you.

Shape

In terms of shape, screened porches, because of the screens and the architectural limitations of making a screened structure, usually end up with a boxed structure, either square or rectangular. The dimensions are usually kept within certain confines to make the screened porch functional and in ratio to the existing house. Covered, open porches are very different in the aspect of what can be done in terms of shape. An open porch gives you more design flexibility by the use of columns. Covered porches can also be built in different shapes, like a half octagon, or even a full octagon reminiscent of a gazebo style design. The use of decorative columns is beautiful and is always popular.

Open porch by Archadeck of Maryland

With round columns and a beautifully detailed ceiling design this covered porch has it all

Columns

Round columns, Georgian and Roman style columns, capital base and trim and even ogee ends halfway up the columns are commonly used in the construction of covered or open porches. Because screening does not need to be attached, column options are greater. The type of columns you choose should complement your home’s architecture, but in the same token, you can choose a design that will have a striking impact on the appearance of the entire back of your residence. With a custom designed and professionally built covered porch you can transform your average looking backyard into something truly magnificent.

Protection from the elements

With an open porch design you will get the same amount of sun protection that you would with a screened porch and you get a little better breeze because there is nothing to impede the air flow. There are drawbacks though, to choosing a covered “open” design versus  screened design. This would be the insects. The insect barrier within a covered porch is non-existent without the luxury of an independent influence. Ceiling fans are commonly used on covered porches to help circulate the air and they provide some minimal insects protection. Insects are less likely to land on you when there is a constant flow of air. A covered porch is an ideal choice for people who want the open feel as well as the endless design possibilities, and those who have a higher tolerance level for insects or those who incorporate pest control into their landscape.

Design rendering in Highland, MD by Archadeck of Maryland

One of the many design renderings Archadeck of Maryland prepared for the upcoming covered porch and deck combination in Highland, MD

Ceilings and electrical

The homeowner has the same options with a covered porch as with a screened porch. Some examples of these options include open or closed rafters, recessed lighting ,skylights, electrical outlets and the capability to mount entertainment equipment such as TV’s, stereos and speakers. There are even open porch designs that incorporate  the luxury of an outdoor fireplaces or outdoor kitchen as well.

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This photo depicts how the upcoming structure will look from an inside the house, with the aid of our design rendering

Another viable option is to construct a deck and covered porch combination structure. In this structure, the porch sits on a deck and the deck extends a significant distance past the porch area. When designing this type of deck/porch combination, Archadeck of Maryland usually extends the deck surface five feet beyond the room and doesn’t add railings. The absence of the railing opens up the deck area and gives you a nice flow from covered to non-covered area as well as from the deck into the yard. This type of design supports the feng shui principles of “less is more”, and not impeding the visual flow from one structure to another.

This upcoming project we are working on in Highland, MD incorporates these same design principles. We are using Square columns, which are large and square to match the homes existing columns. This will ensure the house will match from front to back. When you walk in the home’s entryway, you will see french doors that will lead into the structure. With the aid of a design renderings, which we provide to all of our clients, the homeowners are actually able to “virtually” experience the views of the design before construction begins.

See  more design renderings at the bottom of this post.

John Barrett Archadeck of MarylandArchadeck of Maryland can plan, design and build a structure that takes you back to a by-gone era with the modern conveniences of today. Contact Archadeck of Maryland today to find out more about these and other outdoor structures. (301) 926 – 3001
centralmaryland@archadeck.net

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You are able to experience another angle with this design rendering for this covered porch and deck in Highland, MD

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This design rendering showcases the open porch in conjunction with the large double deck in Highland, MD

This Screened Porch and Deck in Potomac, MD Spotlights the Exotic Beauty of IPE

You may be thinking about adding a hardwood deck such as mahogany or tigerwood onto your home. There are a number of fabulous and breathtakingly beautiful hardwoods on the scene. Not only do some of this hardwoods take advantage of the natural beauty of the wood, some of them boast durability as well.

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This photo by Archadeck of Maryland shows the clipped corners for a panoramic view

Archadeck of Maryland turns back the clock a little to focus on a project we did a few years back for a customer in Potomac, MD. We changed out an existing house wall and made it into a beautiful stone wall and then added a 3-walled screened porch with clipped corners for a panoramic view. We used Ipe flooring and a beautiful clean cedar ceiling, just a stunning combination. We also added a small deck off the outside edge of the screened porch, on the far wall the deck is just big enough for a BBQ. We used a pair of french doors as the exit doors, this added an air of refinement to the addition. To add character and whimsy we installed a cupola on the roof as well.

The house was roughly a 1960’s home in the french colonial style and it had a mansard style roof. The home had a family room with a picture room with doors on either side, this is where we removed all of that and installed the wide opening to accommodate the screened porch. Along with the mansard style roof the home had cedar shakes, we matched the roof of the new structure with the same cedar shakes. Even though this was expensive and very maintenance prone over time, it was necessary to keep the structural integrity of the home intact.

This had been the 1st job we had ever finished a ceiling out with clean cedar, we used a satin finish, which looks even more elegant than a high gloss finish. The choice to use Ipe for the flooring was in part for the beauty and the other would be the extreme durability. Ipe is nicknamed “ironwood” by the industry. It is so hard and resilient you need to use titanium drill bits to drill through it. It will not float in fresh water because of its dense nature. In places where water and long-lasting are used in the same sentence such as floating docks and even the Annapolis yacht club, we have seen it used with much success. We have even heard that the New Jersey boardwalk is not made of Ipe because of its quality.

Ipe is a clean wood as well, it has a dark chocolate palette with variations from board to board. Much is the look of the Brazilian hardwoods. All you need to do to keep that dark beautiful finish is seal it. It will turn a silver-gray, the sealing is only to maintain the color, because even if you choose not to seal Ipe it will not degrade .

John Barrett Archadeck of MarylandThis is just one of the many happy customers we have built structures for of hardwood decking. We have many more options, as well as Ipe. Give Archadeck of Maryland a call today to find out more at (301) 926 – 3001 or email us at centralmaryland@archadeck.net.

This Deck in Bethesda, MD Shows That “Zen” is “In”

Open design with a "zen" feel

This deck was designed and constructed for some wonderful homeowners in Bethesda, MD. The homeowners have a meticulous taste for decorating, style and design. The goal was to have an elevated deck to gain access to the patio and the house.  The homeowner also wanted to keep the number of stairs to a minimum when getting over to the patio area. The challenge was to make this elevated deck appealing to the owners’ meticulous eye for design and personal taste but unobtrusive and with a modern feel.

Design rendering that was not chosen by the homeowners

We were up to the challenge of turning this backyard into a haven for relaxation for these Bethesda customers. We met with them and drew up a few design renderings to give them a feel for what the structure would look like when it came to

Rendering from above, this was the chosen design for the deck

fruition.They wanted a beautifully open look to the backyard and since their yard grades up we decided upon an open deck with a “zen” feel to it.

Detailed view of the beautiful mahogany

The wood we chose is pre-finished mahogany which is a beautiful exotic hardwood similar to Ipe and tigerwood. This particular deck has a variation in the color of the planks which adds to the feeling of being real hardwood. The maintenance for mahogany is the same as any other exotic hardwood, or hardwood in general, you can leave it untreated and it will “gray” out in about one year or you can apply a tropical hardwood oil to ensure color preservation.

Before the addition of the deck

With the homeowners wishes for as few stairs as possible within the structure, the stairs descending down one side were a challenge. These stairs were not considered permanent structures because we were able to build them going down one side. We run into these type of things quite often, so we enjoy coming up with creative solutions. If the deck had been higher than 30 inches we would’ve had to use a rail,  border or benches.

Mahogany deck Bethesday Maryland

Mahogany deck Bethesday Maryland

We were able to blend the deck into the landscape where the back yard gently grades up to leave this open like the homeowner wanted. The finished dimensions of the deck were 20.5′ wide and 18′ deep.

Keeping the “zen” feeling throughout this structure made it open and airy. Many designers would say this deck has good “feng-shui”, we just know it is another structure we enjoyed building to make another homeowners vision of tranquility a reality. Give Archadeck of Maryland a call to design your upcoming outdoor structure.(301) 926 – 3001

Owner of Archadeck of Central Maryland- John Barrett