Spring is in full swing and summer is just around the corner. If you want to be ready for fun in the sun, you’ll need to get the ball rolling on your backyard building projects. Whether you’re installing a patio or a pool, you can benefit from Helpful Expertise® provided by industry professionals. We talked to six Diamond Certified Expert Contributors to gain insight on various aspects of backyard building.
The patio is the main hub of any backyard—a place to relax and enjoy the ambience of the outdoors without actually leaving your house. However, if your patio is outdated or disheveled, it may not make for much of an oasis. In this case, it may be time for a remodel. There are many material options for remodeling a backyard patio, including the following:
When most people think of a concrete patio, they think of a plain, gray hardscape. In reality, there are countless ways to enliven a concrete patio, including different colors, decorative finishes and patterns. Russell Calhoon, project manager at Paradigm Concrete & Construction, Inc., gives a tip for choosing a pattern design for a stamped concrete patio. “Concrete installations typically have scored joints—thin, uniform lines that help decrease cracking,” he explains. “For this reason, when it comes to stamped concrete, it’s usually best to choose a random pattern. Uniform, linear patterns often don’t look right when applied to surfaces with scored joints because the lines in the pattern clash with the joint lines.”
Pavers are an especially versatile patio material—they’re available in a wide variety of colors and textures and they can be arranged in custom patterns. Hayley Johnson, owner of The Legacy Paver Group, recommends choosing permeable pavers because they make paving stone features more environmentally-friendly. “By allowing water to drain through the paver joints and filter down into the ground, they help replenish the water table,” she explains. “Regular pavers allow for a little bit of this, but they’re graded in a way that causes most of the water to run off. Plus, some cities actually require permeable pavers.”
Outdoor porcelain tile
“Outdoor porcelain tile differs from its indoor counterparts with attributes like increased thickness and nonslip engineering for safety underfoot,” says Roger Van Alst, president of Black Diamond Paver Stones & Landscape, Inc. “It’s extremely durable and eye-catchingly beautiful. It can be finished to simulate different types of wood and natural stone, and manufacturers have even developed a screen printing technique that makes it look absolutely stunning in outdoor environments.”
Everyone enjoys a little sunshine, but without some kind of shade, it can quickly become too much of a good thing. Chih Ling Han, owner of Acme Sunshades Enterprise Inc., goes over some shade options for your outdoor living space:
The most traditional shade solution, awnings provide rain protection and shade for patios, entryways, and windows. They’re available in different styles, including fabric or metal standing seam, as well as stationary or retractable. Retractable awnings can be motorized to open and close via remote control.
Canopies are similar to awnings but they extend further out to shade larger areas. This makes them ideal for pools, patios and decks. Like awnings, canopies can be fabric or metal as well as stationary or retractable.
Exterior Roman shades are low-profile options that can be installed onto any freestanding wood or metal pergola. Available in solid fabric or mesh, Roman shades are fully adjustable and easily detachable for removal as needed.
The popularity of artificial lawns has risen steeply over the last couple of decades, largely thanks to the wide range of practical benefits they provide. While the most obvious benefit of synthetic turf is water conservation, Troy Scott, owner of Heavenly Greens, says this is just the tip of the iceberg. He lists the following benefits:
- No mowing, watering, fertilizing, reseeding or general maintenance
- No pesticides, fertilizers or emissions from gas-powered maintenance equipment
- Reduces the effects of allergies (artificial grass doesn’t generate or hold pollen like real grass does)
- Prevents gopher infestations
- Enables children to be active year-round
When choosing an artificial turf product, Mr. Scott says most people focus on aesthetics, but it’s also important to look at functional aspects like the installation’s base. “An artificial lawn requires a strong base underneath to provide support. It also needs to be permeable in order to facilitate proper drainage. It’s recommended for most artificial turf installations to have a base that’s at least three inches thick.”
Mr. Scott recommends looking into specialty base options like AirDrain (a cellular grid that provides superior drainage), Gopher Guard (which protects against rodent damage) and PDS Tile (which ensures proper drainage for turf that’s installed above nonpermeable surfaces).
Outdoor Kitchen Island
If you want to take your backyard living experience to the next level, an outdoor kitchen island may be just the thing. Mr. Van Alst lists some important aspects to address when designing an outdoor kitchen island:
When designing your outdoor island, be sure to consider the entertaining area. You want to make sure your guests have the best possible view, so consider what they’ll be looking at while they’re seated. You should also consider the proximity of the barbecue to the seating area.
Countertops are important for aesthetics, but they also play a crucial functional role. Granite is a popular choice because it offers both beauty and durability. Tile is another popular choice with several options available, including outdoor porcelain tile.
Outdoor kitchen islands can accommodate an almost limitless number of features. Fire features (such as a fire table) provide ambience and warmth on cooler nights. Refrigerators and icemakers make it easy to store perishables and serve cold beverages. Specialty cooking features like side burners, griddles, smokers, and pizza ovens can expand your culinary potential and accommodate specific cooking needs.
Watch Mr. Van Alst’s Diamond Certified Expert video in its entirety below:
Undoubtedly the most ambitious of backyard building projects, installing a swimming pool is no small feat. That’s why Tim Lindelli, project manager at Herb’s Pool Service, Inc., stresses the importance of planning ahead. “Building a new pool is a lengthy process that entails many phases, from the initial design and engineering to obtaining building permits to the construction itself. The permit process alone can take several weeks and potentially hold up the entire project. Add to that allowances for unexpected issues and it’s easy to see just how time-intensive a pool project can be.” For this reason, Mr. Lindelli recommends contacting a pool contractor five or six months prior to summer.
Mr. Lindelli highlights some other crucial aspects of planning a swimming pool project:
While your design can be addressed after you hire a pool contractor, you can save time by hiring a designer to draft the plans beforehand. That way, the pool contractor will have something to work with from the start.
The first thing your pool contractor should do is conduct a soils report. If the soil in your yard isn’t very stable, your pool may require additional engineering components such as piers, beams or retaining walls.
In some cases, the installation of a new pool requires upgrades to a home’s existing electrical system, particularly in older homes with outdated or inadequate circuit boards.
Ongoing maintenance costs
While building a new pool is an expensive endeavor, the costs don’t end there. Not only can a swimming pool significantly increase home energy costs, it requires ongoing upkeep and maintenance. For this reason, it’s important to consider your budget for both the short term and long term.