When the weather heats up, it’s time to enjoy the great outdoors. For many that doesn’t mean heading off in search of the nearest park or pool; it means spending time right at home. A backyard deck or patio offers tons of opportunities for outdoor socializing, eating and just hanging out enjoying a nice Iowa sunset. These Grimes residents have done their decks up right, with fun features and great aesthetics. They say their decks are some of the best parts of their homes.
A new space
The Loebigs have been in their house for a while now, and they decided it was finally time to upgrade their deck and start making use of their backyard. Their existing deck wasn’t working for them, and they found themselves sitting in the front yard on the driveway instead of making use of the back. With a new deck and stone patio and other upgrades, they say they’re spending more time out back than ever.
“We did the project last year,” says Vicki Loebig. “We have a really odd lot where the back of our house butts up to our neighbors. We weren’t using the deck, and we needed a way to make use of the space, and we saw this article in a catalog and decided it was the setup for us.”
The Loebigs now have a nice new deck with a pergola that overlooks a new stone patio. They added new lighting and new furniture, as well as a fire pit and outdoor cooking area, and they are thrilled with the results.
Though their kids are grown now, they say when they come to visit, it’s a great place to gather as a family. It has really expanded the size of their home, adding a functional outdoor living space.
“We were looking for a way to connect the smaller backyard with the side yard because that’s bigger, and so this has really brought it all together,” she says. “So now we feel like we’ve expanded our yard.”
The Loebigs are excited to share the space with others, like their daughter’s new family. She’ll be getting married soon, and the couple is going to host her new in-laws. It will be a fun place for entertaining.
“We want to sit and enjoy the evenings with family and friends,” she says. “We haven’t spent this much time in our yard in years. Now there’s a great spot to gather.”
A fresh start
Mark and Jan Thornton decided it was time to replace their deck and upgrade their outdoor area, so they called Deck and Drive Solutions. They finished the project just this spring. It included a new deck and new patio below with some privacy walls.
Jan said when they bought the house, it came with a standard deck that was in need of repair. Rather than do the repairs, they decided to upgrade the space. They now have a deck that goes across the entire length of the house. Jan says they hope to replace the window in their bedroom with a slider that will walk out to the new deck portion. They also have room under the deck for a stamped cement patio. They hope to add a hot tub in the future.
Because of the way the deck is situated, Jan says privacy is important. They have three privacy walls, and she intends to install blinds on the fourth side.
For the Thorntons, another big perk to their new deck is that it’s maintenance-free. They made sure to use a composite material so their deck won’t require any staining or other maintenance like a wooden deck would. The couple used a product called TimberTech composite decking, which Jan highly recommends.
She says if someone is planning to take on a new deck project, to spend the most time on the design and planning phase. Also be sure not to overlook things like lighting and other finishing touches.
“I would say consider lighting going down the stairs,” she says. “Most decks are way up high in our neighborhood, so you have a big stairway. We had our stairs go down one way, and then they turn around to the patio. Also, consider a fan. When it gets really hot, a fan is nice to have. You can still enjoy outside and be comfortable.”
When Scott Almeida and his family purchased their home, it came with a plain concrete slab, but no deck. The do-it-yourselfer decided it was time to go big or go home — and he ended up taking on the huge project of not only a new deck, but a fully enclosed screened in porch. The 20×20 foot room has a peaked roof, is made of composite wood, has lights and a fan, and is wired for sound. He has it set up with a full dining area and seating area as well.
“Yeah we went all out,” he says. “If you’re going to do it, might as well do it ridiculous.”
Scott says they had some labor help but they did the majority of the work themselves. He recommends anyone who is going to tackle a big project to get some help from professionals for the tricky parts to make sure there are no structural issues down the line.
He says it’s also important to think a lot about the design and the amount of time the project will take — it’s always longer than you think it will be.
“If you can, I’d recommend doing it before you have kids. You have to know how much time it will take. We were able to use it after about six months, but finishing the woodwork and painting and stuff just takes a lot of time. The small details will get you.”
The Almeidas love their new space. It has the comforts of the indoors while also being outside. Their 1-year-old son spends much of the day out there playing.
“We’re glad we did it,” he says. “Everyone comes over and loves it. We recently had family from out of town, and Grandma Jean sat out there every day for four days straight. We can spend time out there even it’s too hot other places in the yard. It’s like being outside but with indoor comforts.”