Why Should I Use Pavers for My Chicagoland Patio?

Archadeck of Chicagoland discusses the differences between concrete and paver patios and how to get more for your money.

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Why you should use pavers instead of concrete by patio builder Archadeck of Chicagoland

Patios make great outdoor living spaces.  They require little maintenance and allow for creative design options that make your yard more versatile and usable.  If you are considering a patio, you are probably researching your material options.  The three most popular are pavers, concrete, and stamped concrete.

At Archadeck of Chicagoland, we use pavers for the patios we build.  Here’s why:

Continue reading “Why Should I Use Pavers for My Chicagoland Patio?”

Custom Design: It’s All In The Details

At Archadeck of Chicagoland, custom design is our specialty.  We took great joy in designing this paver patio with our clients.  From the spacious layout to the clearly defined living sections, this patio is truly unique.  We start with a design plan that is tweaked and adjusted until it is exactly what our client is looking for.  As you can see in this design, we created separate spaces that transition nicely for grilling, dining, seating, and the hot tub.

Design PlanFor this particular design, we used a different color of stone for the Soldiers Course.  This helped to clearly define the different spaces while creating a striking and aesthetically pleasing look.

Paver Patio with Soldiers CourseFire pits and seat walls offer a warm and inviting space for family and friends.

Paver PatioIf a hot tub is desired, it is important to incorporate the space in the design so that the space flows easily.

Paver PatioAdding low voltage lighting to your outdoor living space creates an intimate feel while transforming your patio into a nighttime wonderland.

Patio LightingIf you are considering a patio, deck, or other outdoor living space, please give Archadeck of Chicagoland a call.  Our design consultants would love to speak with you!  You may contact us at (847) 749-2373 or email us at chicagoland@archadeck.net

See you in the Backyard!

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Tips to Prepare Your Deck and Paver Patio for Winter

We hope you enjoyed your summer!  The days are definitely growing cooler and winter is right around the corner.  Now is the perfect time to start thinking about preparing your outdoor living space for winter months; you’ll want to maintain your wooden deck, outdoor furniture, and paver patio to extend their life.  Here are a few tips to get you started.

Protecting Your Deck and PatioDeck and patio combination project

  • Sweep the surface removing all leaves and debris to help prevent mold and mildew forming.
  • Wash with mild soap and water.  If some dirt remains or if there are signs of mold, you may need to pressure wash the surfaces.  It is advisable that you use a professional as pressure washing at too high of a setting may cause damage.
  • If you have a deck, inspect the entire deck (slats,  handrails, railings, and posts) noting any rotting, loose rails, or warping. If  re-hammering the nails or tightening screws causes the nails or screws to sink into soft wood or splits the wood, then the piece should be replaced.
  • If you have a patio, add joining sand and sweep evenly into the joints of your patio.  Don’t put too much sand on the patio at one time. Most paver patios have tight joints between bricks and won’t need a lot of sand.

Protecting Your Furniture

  • Wash and store vinyl furniture indoors.
  • Inspect any wood furniture for damage and make the necessary repairs before covering or storing it for winter.
  • Cover with a heavy tarp or store inside a shed or garage to protect it from the elements.
  • Clean soil from planters.  Any pots made of clay or other fragile materials should be brought indoors.

Tips for Snow Removal

  • If you are shoveling snow from your deck, run the shovel lengthwise across the boards to minimize scratching or cutting into the wood. Another option is to use a plastic shovel.
  • Avoid salt and other ice melting substances as they may damage or discolor your deck finish.

Designing The 2nd Place Dream Backyard Makeover Patio

We were delighted when the Hall family, local Palatine homeowners, won second place in the national Dream Backyard Makeover, sponsored by Archadeck and Belgard.  Their existing outdoor living space consisted of a cracked concrete patio closely surrounded by large bushes.  The young family had recently purchased the home and dreamed of having a beautiful open space to enjoy with their friends and family.

Archadeck Dream Makeover Contest - Before

After making the announcement that they had won, we got together to discuss how they envisioned their new outdoor living space.  Custom design is our specialty, so together we walked through the tried and true process we use to create the best design for their family.  To do this we focused on the four most important aspects of a design:  space, function, aesthetics, and budget.

  • It was important to know about any spatial issues they might have.  Knowing ahead of time where property lines and natural easements are help us to determine how much space is available to use, or to prepare a plan of action in the case a client may want to request a variance from the village for additional space.
  • Functional needs tie into the discussion of spatial issues. If we designed too small, the Halls would not be able to use the space as they had envisioned.  If we designed to large, they would have more patio than they needed and the space would go unused. Most of us don’t build patios and decks every day, so determining how much space you need can almost feel bewildering.  In order to help the Hall family determine how much space they would need, we discussed how they planned to use the space.  Did they just want an area to sit and enjoy the sun?  A place for a table and grill?  Enough room to comfortably host an outdoor party?  Each of these require different amounts of space.  Knowing what they ultimately want to do with their patio helped us determine the amount of space that would suit their needs.
  • Discussing aesthetics is also a key element in helping us design the right outdoor living space for our clients.  We showed the Halls several pictures of previous projects we have built, asking them to point out aspects they either liked or those they did not favor.  This helped us design specifically to their taste and style.
  • At Archadeck, we design to a budget.  We don’t want to develop a design that is two or three times what our clients want to invest. Knowing an ideal budget helps us keep a design within the parameters of what they are comfortable investing in their project.  This time was no different.  The Hall family won the second prize of the Dream Backyard Makeover contest, so we worked with them to design the perfect space while remaining within the designated amount alloted by the contest rules.

Once we had the design in place, we set everything in motion to begin building.  Breaking ground was an exciting moment for both the Halls and our Archadeck team!  We began by discussing building plans with our crew, making sure every detail was addressed before we began.  The crew broke up and removed the old concrete patio and put in new drain tiles.

Breaking Ground for Dream Backyard Makeover PatioNext they put the base in, getting everything set for the new Belgard Pavers. The Halls chose a wonderful combination of Buckingham Cobble and Weston Wall for their seat wall.

With the bricks laid, we put down grass seed and green matting to fill in the dirt that is left from building the patio.

Creating the Dream Backyard Makeover Patio

The outcome was beautiful.  We enjoyed the opportunity to work with them and hope they enjoy their new patio with family and friends for many years.

Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover - 2nd Place Winner

How to choose a contractor you can trust, part 3

When you buy something at the store you see the finished product. When you order something online you see a picture of the finished product. When you hire a contractor, you won’t see the finished product until the project is built.

Buying from a contractor means trusting someone. Trusting they will build what you expect. Trusting they understand what you expect . How can a homeowner be comfortable they are choosing the right contractor for their project? How do they know who to trust? This is the third article in a blog series on how to select the right contractor.

In two previous blogs I wrote about evaluating a contractors background and experience and how to insure the contractor builds what you want and expect. In this blog I will share some thoughts on how a contractor can manage your project so it is built well and construction runs smoothly.

Project management is important in most businesses but it is crucial in construction. There are a lot of balls to juggle. Building department requirements, the carpenters, coordinating multiple crews, trash removal, material showing up on time, ensuring timely inspections to avoid delaying job progress, protecting driveways from dumpster damage, ensuring the correct fasteners are being used in the correct locations, and that is just a few examples. The most important detail is clearly communicating the progress of the job in a timely manner to the homeowner. Understanding how a contractor manages the multiple issues that can arise during the course of the job should be important in deciding who you want to hire for your project.

People and systems can make or break the job. In our organization, we manage each deck, patio, or screen porch project with a system called the Job Progress Methodology. This elaborate checklist (over 200 items currently) and four supporting guides for the field personnel keep us on track to ensure a smooth running project. We use this tool in conjunction with a series of construction standards in our Master File. This is a collection of drawings that clearly reflects how each detail of the project will be built.

Knowing who the crews are and how they are managed are important factors in the end result of the project. Finding tradesmen that are skilled, reliable, and trustworthy can be challenging. Over the years I have been shocked by the lack of skill that some carpenters bring to their work after presenting themselves well in the interview. We issue a written test to weed out many people up front. Asking for their approval to conduct a background check causes even more to drop out. With new crews, our Project Manager is on site daily for the first two to three weeks to insure they are building to our expectations and acting appropriately at our client’s homes. Some trades require proper licensing such as roofers, electricians, and plumbers in Illinois. We check that all insurances are up to date and that all our subs are properly licensed.

If you want full service, the contractor should handle all issues related to securing the permit and the inspections. This includes contacting the utility locater service, JULIE in Illinois, to insure no lines are hit when digging is involved. It should also include providing any drawings and information your Home Owners Association might require. Our company provides all of these services when we build Outdoor Living projects such as decks, screen porches, or pergolas.

How a contractor organizes it’s work, before and during the construction, is critical for success in your project. It is critical if you want comfort your expectations will be met and the job runs as smoothly as possible. If material or crews occur in the wrong order, it becomes difficult to undo the construction, making this organization critical. Of course even a quality company that makes every effort to be organized will still have mistakes, but they need to step up and make them right for you! We will talk more about this in our next blog.

See you in the outdoors.

Form follows function & flow

Form should follow function but should it also follow flow?  Creating new outdoor spaces, as any design, usually begins by identifying its use.  Asking and understanding how a client will use their new backyard structure is key to creating a great design for their family.  As important to understanding the function is fitting the design to the home and this includes the land. 

We designed this Libertyville, IL project to meet the young families’ needs and the flow of their yard.  Based upon the yard grading it would have been easier to do a deck but they liked the look of a paver patio.

They wanted a space for six to dine & grill and a level for a couple of lounge chairs.   The design also needed to create a transition from the house to the backyard, especially towards the kids swing set.  As we considered their priorities and the grade of the yard it became obvious to create a series of paver patio levels.  Patio levels that provide the spaces desired and followed the drop in the back yard to meet the lowest grade where the swing set was.

By providing a 3 dimensional drawing of the design on their home the client was able to visualize our recommendation.   Together we reviewed two design ideas and made edits to get the exact design they wanted on the back of their home.   Finding the best plan for our clients is the central focus of our design process.

As you can see the result was a great new outdoor living space!