Category Archives: Pergolas

2013 Crystal Ball for Archadeck Outdoor Living

NY Eve Ball DropHere we are, putting another year behind us and setting our sights on the next.  Goodbye Twenty-Twelve.  Hello Twenty-Thirteen.

2012 was a very good year for Archadeck of Central Iowa.  Record-setting, even.  Central Iowans are truly embracing our trusted and time-proven approach to custom designing and building outdoor living spaces, rooms and accessories.  Many backyards around Des Moines were adorned with our decks, porches, patios, pergolas, outdoor kitchens and more…even a basketball court!

Screen Porch, Patio, Outdoor Kitchen Space by Archadeck of Central Iowa

Screen Porch, Patio, Outdoor Kitchen Space by Archadeck of Central Iowa

Multi-functional, combination spaces with amenities like fireplaces, firepits and lighting are driving growth in the value and popularity of outdoor living.

Three of our 2012 projects are soon going to be seen in some fairly prominent local and national publications in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for these:

  • Do It Yourself Magazine, a Better Homes and Gardens special publication used a West Des Moines composite deck project of ours as a backdrop for a feature article coming later this Spring; stay tuned for newsstand availability information.
  • Welcome Home Des Moines, a locally-produced magazine, is featuring an Urbandale deck and patio project, complete with a firepit and outdoor kitchen, in their January/February 2013 issue; find it online, in your mailbox (if you subscribe) and in fine establishments around Des Moines in January.
  • dsm Magazine, another locally-produced magazine, asked us to participate in a “Superior Interiors” feature that will run in their  Feb/Mar/April 2013 issue.  Interiors?  Archadeck?  Aren’t we a “Superiors Exteriors” business?  Well, yes, but the Urbandale screen porch project we’re featuring there will explain it all.  Look for that in late January as well.
TimberTech Deck - Wes Des Moines (soon to be seen in DIY Magazine)

TimberTech Deck – Wes Des Moines (soon to be seen in DIY Magazine)

What else does 2013 hold in store for Archadeck of Central Iowa?  Where is that crystal ball when we need it?  One thing is certain:  It won’t get any easier.  Our clients demand more.  We demand more of ourselves.  In other words, the bar keeps getting moved higher.  But, those are challenges that inspire us.   So, we’re preparing for another exciting year and we’re looking forward to summarizing another successful and record-setting year here again next year at this time.  Ahead of that, here are some of the challenges, excitement and preparations we see in Archadeck’s 2013 crystal ball:

—–  Home Shows  —– 

We will again be displaying at the Des Moines Home & Garden Show (February 7th – 10th, 2013; Iowa Events Center/Hy-Vee Hall) and at the Home Builders Association Home & Remodeling Show (March 8 – 10, 2013; Iowa State Fairgrounds/Varied Industries Building).

Custom Outdoor Living Space Design and Plan, Archadeck of Central Iowa

Custom Outdoor Living Space Design and Plan, Archadeck of Central Iowa

But, you don’t have to wait to see us at a Home Show.  In fact, if you’ve got a pre-Summer “deadline” (maybe needing a deck or porch or patio for a graduation party or wedding?), I’d highly  (highly!) encourage you to not wait.   We have a number of 2012 clients who have already approached us about “phase 2” planning (“phasing” projects is also becoming more common; for example, doing a room/porch one year and a patio the next).  We also have a queue of several proposals from late 2012 under consideration with January decision timeframes (some with those aforementioned deadlines).

—–  Econ 101  —–

With demand and popularity come higher prices, particularly with the building materials that go into our projects.  But on top of that, re-building efforts from massive and devastating storms like Hurricane Sandy and the Joplin tornado further stress supply and demand resources.   Construction industry watchers are forecasting 3% – 8% increases in building material prices over the coming years (source:  Ken Simonson, Chief Economist AGC of America, 9/21/12) .   The last few years have made providers lean, so absorbing these costs will be difficult for us.   Which I know makes purchasing decisions more difficult for you.  But it doesn’t have to be all bad news.  Done right – better building by design – does add value.  And again, if you can catch us early you might beat some of these price increases.

—–  Products, Supply Chain and Relationships  —–

Because of our national presence and our outdoor living industry leadership position, Archadeck has forged various forms of preferred supplier relationships with major manufacturers in the outdoor living arena, including:

There were some interesting partnerships and acquisitions within those suppliers last year and we’re looking forward to some exciting enhancements in their product lines as a result.

Azek acquired the TimberTech business last year.  What that means going forward is yet to be totally realized; for the time being the brands and products are being maintained independently.  I would anticipate some very positive outcomes from this in regards to new and improved product offerings in the near future.

From TimberTech Direct, Radiance Rail with Feeney's Cable Rail, new in 2013.

From TimberTech Direct, Radiance Rail with Feeney’s Cable Rail, new in 2013.

One precursor to what may be ahead with the Azek/TimberTech deal may be seen in the partnership TimberTech and Feeney Architectural Products developed to integrate Feeney’s Cable Rail system into TimberTech’s new Radiance Rail systems.

Locally, I am also working to forge a stronger relationship with Trex.

Trex Transcends Front Porch, West Des Moines

Trex Transcends Front Porch, West Des Moines

We’ve become a big fan of Trex’s Transcends decking and railing products.  In fact, we just finished a Trex Transcends front porch project in West Des Moines a couple of weeks ago.  Trex’s RainEscape product is becoming our under-decking drainage system of choice as well.  Several recent Des Moines-area Trex deck projects are lined up for review and I have paperwork completed and ready to be submitted…for what will soon make us the first TrexPro contractor in the Des Moines area.  We are excited to attain this level of local support with Trex, the number one decking/railing manufacturer in the country.   Stay tuned for more details on this relationship.

Vendors working together make it better for all of us downstream.  And with the relationships Archadeck has forged with these major suppliers, it makes it even better when you work with Archadeck.  The direct support we get from these relationships helps all of us, both before and after an outdoor living space project is designed, sold and constructed.

—-  Re-Energize  —–

The annual Archadeck workshop, held in conjunction with the other brands in our Outdoor Living Brands, Inc. family will be coming up in late January.   It’s a nice time to re-connect and network with our colleagues around the country and learn from those shared experiences.  In addition, we’ll be introduced to new business strategies from our franchise advisory groups.  I always come away from these meetings re-energized for a new season and am looking forward to this again.

—–  Pictures Are Worth A Thousand Words  —–

A few blog posts back, I mentioned plans to expand our offerings of project pictures beyond what we have on our web site and Facebook photo galleries to include Pinterest and Photosynth.  Those plans are…aside from adding some pins to my personal Pinterest site and adding a couple of panoramic “synths” to our Photosynth site…still in the planning phase.  But, I am committed to integrating these further into our web presence over the coming weeks.  So, look for announcements on these in the near future.

Slide09XOur online themes (across our web site, Facebook page, etc.) for the past few weeks has been a seasonal wish for “Merry Outdoor Living in the Happy New Year!”  Beyond that, thank you for your readership here and your support of Archadeck of Central Iowa.   And, if you need to improve your merry-making capabilities in your Central Iowa outdoor living space in 2013 – or beyond, we look forward to hearing from you soon.  Feel free to download our complimentary Design Guide, contact us via our web site and/or give us a call.

Best wishes for a Happy and Prosperous 2013!

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Homestyle’s Last Word on Outdoor Living: Take The Party Outside

This one is a keeper.  No, I don’t mean this blog article.  Nor do I mean any of the recent outdoor living projects we’ve completed here in the Des Moines area.  While we’ve certainly been exceptionally busy since Fall with the mild Winter and Spring – allowing us to build some very nice deck, porch and patio projects, our clients think those are all keepers, though.

What I am referring to is the May, 2012, edition of the Des Moines Register’s Homestyle magazine that just hit the streets.  It’s a keeper because from what I, as an advertiser in that publication, have been told, it’s the last Homestyle magazine we’re ever going to see.  At least on paper…in its current form.  Des Moines Register President and Publisher Laura Hollingsworth’s announcements of April 13th and May 6th put some background to this change…and others on the horizon.

Over the years, Homestyle has been a great resource for Archadeck of Central Iowa as a tool to promote our presence – our design and build services – in the Des Moines and Central Iowa region.  Occasionally, the Register and Homestyle publishers would be kind enough to feature us in stories and articles in the magazine.  Homestyle’s quality and professional production served us – and like-minded businesses – well over the years.  I know this because I know it served a lot of you well, too.  Countless people I’ve talked to over the 9 years I’ve been involved in this business of designing and building outdoor living spaces have mentioned seeing our ads and stories in the Homestyle magazine.  Whether you were looking for an outdoor kitchen or an indoor kitchen, an outdoor living room or an indoor living room, a patio or a pad, a ceiling fan for your bedroom or for your screen porch, Homestyle was a resource Des Moines relied on for ideas and inspiration.  Homestyle also provided you a way to find products and businesses to bring those ideas and inspiration to life.  Often on the vivid pages of the magazine itself.

But in a bittersweet end, those pages will be no more.  Its sad to see Homestyle go, yet I certainly understand.  More and more of you now find us – and nearly everything else – via the internet today.  And, to be honest, its more effective – cost-wise, reach-wise, message-wise – for us to be found on the internet.  Video killed the radio star.  And Microsoft, Google and Apple killed the print star.

Or did they?  Last I checked, radio still exists….even on the internet….and as a result, in even more specialized and targeted forms, not to mention from nearly every corner of the earth.  Maybe video actually created more radio stars…but diluted the term “stars?”

So, I think print is going to remain as well.  But, like radio and nearly everything else, its delivery is evolving to electronic form….on the internet.  And print stars will grow…and dilute.  In part, thanks to bloggers like me – I hardly consider myself a “star.”

I am one of those conflicted sorts who sees himself as both a technologist (a 29-year career in that field) and a traditionalist (I’m a born-and-raised Iowan, southern at that).  I often have both the Des Moines Register paper (paper!) and my iPad at the breakfast table in the morning.  I like to buy hardcopy books to have on a bedside table or library shelf, but I prefer to read them on iBooks on my iPad.  I actively promote wood-alternative material when it comes to decking and railing products, yet I believe nothing compares to the natural beauty of real wood (when its cleaned, sealed and nicely stained).  So, maybe I’m wired to adapt to the change of not having Homestyle delivered to folks doorsteps once a month to whatever the “next step” is in the evolution of the Des Moines Register and its spin-off publications.    Maybe.

I’ll miss the traditional ways and the traditional contributors and I will support these as long as they exist and work for us.  So, you’ll still find our ads in the Des Moines Register and in Sherry Failor’s Welcome Home Des Moines magazine (another fine, traditional print publication).  But, I’ll support the evolution, too.  Technology advances demand it.  And, quite frankly, so do you…we.  With every smart phone, tablet computer and low-maintenance, wood-alternative deck we buy, its one more vote for…change….progress…evolution.  But, its kinda like the saying about not liking to have birthdays the older you get:  consider the alternative.

So, in those terms, it sounds like the Des Moines Register is about to have one of those “major” birthdays.  And we’re all invited to the party.  As for Archadeck of Central Iowa, professionally, and me, personally, we’ll be there because we prefer parties to the alternative.  Especially, parties on the patio!

Thank you to The Des Moines Register and, specifically, the Homestyle production team for your contributions to Des Moines homeowners’ lifestyles through that forum over the years.  Thanks also for your support of Archadeck and like-minded businesses that operate in that arena; we look forward to that continued support in the next evolution of the Register.   Finally, thank you for the “Outdoor Oasis – Deck out your deck and take the party outside” nod.  Subliminal or not, it’s a keeper.

Satisfaction Abounds with Des Moines-area Deck and Railing Projects

Satisfaction...Archadeck Style

We’re just back from our annual workshop where, among other presentations, our franchisor recognizes several achievements across the Archadeck network of outdoor living space builders and designers.  Customer Satisfaction Awards are some of the most coveted awards and we’re proud to announce Central Iowa’s third consecutive Customer Satisfaction Award.  Satisfied customers are satisfied customers regardless of project size, complexity or style.  Based on our awards and their consistency, unlike the Rolling Stones, we do get satisfaction…nearly everyday.

Beyond that award, we had two other nice, unexpected acknowledgements awaiting us when we got home.

2012 Fortress Railing Calendar - March, Archadeck of Central Iowa

First, a project of ours was selected by Fortress Railing Products as their 3rd Place winner nationally for their 2012 Calendar Contest.  As such, it is the March cover and feature on their 2012 national calendar.  Obviously, Fortress is a railing (and fence) company so the focus is on our use of their FE26 Traditional Iron Railing in the project we did for our client in Urbandale, a northwest Des Moines suburb.  The overall project scope included installation of a low-maintenance railing and cedar pergola on their existing builder-provided composite deck (but with wood railing, initially).  The sleek, crisp look of Fortress Railing was a key component of the stunning transformation we made to our client’s deck space.  The flared pergola concept was key, too.  Thanks to Fortress for selecting our project for March, 2012!  And, thanks to our clients for having the foresight to select Fortress Railing…and Archadeck…for their project!

On a side note, my co-hort Rick Conrad of our Archadeck of Bucks/Mont office in Pennsylvania won the 2012 Grand Prize – the calendar cover and January features in the same Fortress calendar.  Congratulations, Rick!  Rick’s Grand Prize follows on the heels of our Archadeck of West Rhode Island office winning the same award in 2009.  I’m in good company!

Ageless Deck Design, by Archadeck of Des Moines - circa, 2001 (?)

Secondly, a client of ours from 1997 – yes, 1997…from the tenure of the prior Archadeck of Des Moines office – called with a question related to their initial deck design and layout.  No problems or issues, she emphasized; in fact, said their deck is still the best investment they’ve made on their home.   They are reviewing options for addressing a new gas meter requirement in relation to the deck’s layout and wondered if I had any information relevant to that.  Unfortunately, due to the age of their project and retention limitations, I wasn’t able to provide much besides anecdotal discussion to assist her.  But, she said she was very appreciative of that and my call back and said it further validated their selection of Archadeck – 15 years later – to know that we’re still actively in business.

More active than ever, in fact!

We’ll be gearing up for the 2012 Des Moines Home and Garden Show at the Iowa Events Center in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned for more information and we look forward to seeing you there.

Resolve to Enjoy Your Outdoor Living Spaces More in 2012

Happy New Year!  2012.  Twenty-Twelve.  Has a nice sound, feel and look to it, don’t you think?  I’m always excited to turn the page on a New Year and look forward to the symbolic “re-boot” that New Years Day offers.  At the same time, I’m also caught up in both the “reflective” and “reality” aspects of the moment when the ball drops, corks pop and lips lock.  There are things, both good/bad…happy/sad, that happened in the past year(s) that will continue to influence us in the reality that a New Year brings.  I’m looking forward to building on all that and making a great 2012, both personally and professionally.  Here’s wishing you the best in 2012, too!

That opening could be summarized as the “3 R’s of New Years:”  Re-boot, Reflection and Reality.  And, I managed (until now) to do that without using that other dreaded “R” word (Resolutions).  I’m not sure what your disposition is towards New Years Resolutions, but I tend to think that a good, positive attitude (such as “reflectively rebooting for the reality a New Year brings”) goes a long way towards achieving any resolution…whether you actually make resolutions or not.   But, if you are a person who makes New Years Resolutions and you’re looking for help both in making and meeting your resolutions, Archadeck | Outdoor Living can help you with that:

Resolve to enjoy your outdoor living spaces more in 2012!

Note that I said “…both in making and meeting your resolutions.”  Anybody can make resolutions.  Meeting them is the hard part.  Often it’s the hard part because there isn’t a good plan in place to bring the resources together to achieve the goal.   Or, on the flip side, the goal isn’t realistic based on the resources that only haphazardly come together when planning is overlooked.

Multi-Season Room, West Des Moines

How does this relate to Archadeck and Outdoor Living?  If you take us up on our resolution offering, you’ll soon see that we focus on developing a design and plan to achieve your outdoor living space needs and desires. When the design and plan is in place, we focus on building it with the most qualified, experienced resources and to the highest standards in the industry.  After its built, we warrant it and guarantee our warranty coverage for up to 5 years.  “Better Building by Design” and “We Design It, We Build It, You Enjoy It” are not just catch-phrases for us…its our way of life…our way of business.

Maybe you want a patio with an outdoor kitchen and firepit.  Maybe you want a screen porch to keep out the bugs and sun.  Maybe you’re tired of splinters, tired of staining your deck and railing and are looking for lower-maintenance outdoor living components.  Maybe you don’t want to get “burned” like your neighbor did with their contractor.  Maybe you want all of that.  You can have all that – or all that makes sense for your reality –  under the Archadeck | Outdoor Living umbrella (maybe “pergola” is a better word in our case).  We take making resolutions for you very seriously!

Front Porch with Pergola, Central Iowa

Of course, this will cost you some money and, likely, more money than you anticipate going in (as many things do, right?).  But, we’ll certainly address the cost and budget aspects of your project and its various design options in the planning process as well.  The connection between planning/design and cost is comparable to the connection between the chicken and the egg:  Which comes first?  Not sure about the chicken and the egg, but I wish I had that “magic.”  Unfortunately, I’m only human so we address it in a number of ways (design retainers, iterative designs, addendums within known ranges, etc.) depending on the situation.  But, our goal is always the same…to develop a known budget up front, contract to that and…no surprises along the way…or at the end.

The consensus among remodeling industry experts is that this is money well-spent, too. Remodeling Magazine recently published their 2011-12 Cost/Value Analysis Report.  In that, they track 35 common remodeling projects with average project costs, resale value and cost recoupment; they do this nationally, regionally and within major metropolitan areas.  Archadeck’s product offerings span more than these 35 projects primarily because Remodeling Magazine is focused on in-, or on-home remodeling projects while we focus on outdoor spaces, rooms and accessories.  So, for example, patios, pergolas and outdoor kitchens aren’t specifically included in the Remodeling survey.  But, decks are and we generally relate that as the “outdoor living spaces” indicator for cost/value returns.  Remodeling also tracks “sunroom additions.”  But, “sunrooms” tend to not reflect the “stick-built” approach we take with our multi-season rooms and porches here in our Des Moines-based Archadeck office.  So, we look at the “family room addition” within Remodeling’s survey as the indicator for our “room” projects.  Admittedly, though, “porches” (front, screened and open) are difficult to assess via this survey.

Low Maintenance Outdoor Living Spaces on Urbandale Home

With those caveats, you’ll find that deck additions, wood and composite, are 2 of the top 10 projects with the highest cost/value returns in the Midwest/Des Moines region.  Room additions, depending on what you call the room, are holding strong in the middle of the pack.  Deck additions (and other outdoor living spaces such as patios) continue to be strong performers in this survey, primarily from the perspective that they, unlike many other projects in the survey…and, I might add, when they are done “right” (see above), add living space to your home (if even on a partial-year basis).   It’s the space and functionality aspects that are adding value.  If you choose to add that space/functionality with a cheaper material (wood) over a more expensive material (composite), then the cost goes up but the value (as measured by this survey) remains the same, therefore driving down the overall value on a percentage basis.  That’s my explanation for the drop between wood deck and composite deck values per this survey.  This survey does not take into account some of the more lifestyle-oriented values that composites may provide on a more subjective basis.

Multi-Season Room and Patio, Des Moines

Certainly, the values of our homes and what we put into them have been a tricky proposition in recent years…trickier depending on where you live.  Nearly all of the remodeling projects tracked in the survey are down in the cost/return ratios compared to survey results 3 years ago; that’s more reflective of the housing bubble burst that’s impacted our economy over the past few years than it is of any of these projects, per se.  But, here in the Des Moines and Central Iowa region, we’ve been fortunate enough to be as stable as any place in that regard.  That helps to put us in a position to feel good about investing in our homes.  And, more folks are doing that with more of a longer-term outlook.  Outdoor living spaces remain one of the best investments you can make on your Des Moines-area home.

So, re-boot, reflect and look forward to the new realities that 2012 will bring you.  If those realities include a desire (resolution?) to enjoy your outdoor living spaces more in 2012, I look forward to hearing from you soon.  With Archadeck’s proven processes and experience, we’ll put together a good plan for a good investment in your home.  For one piece of a good 2012!

Happy New Year!

Over The River and Through the Woods, to Grandma’s Front Porch We Go!

With Thanksgiving behind us now, we’ve now “officially” kicked off the “Holiday Season.”  The holiday trifecta of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years gives us many opportunities to get together with family and friends to reflect, share and celebrate.   It truly is a special time of the year.

Despite record-setting temperatures in Des Moines this Thanksgiving, those gatherings generally aren’t occurring on too many decks, patios or porches…it will get cold and it will snow.  So, between that and the hectic pace of these coming weeks, “outdoor living” and the services and products provided by Archadeck of Central Iowa are appropriately going to take a “back burner” for most folks for a while. I encourage planning and designing your outdoor living projects over the Winter months.  But I realize most folks – myself included – will be consumed planning their shopping, social and family activities and gatherings over the coming weeks.

But, my “day job” during this – and every – season is dreaming of outdoor living spaces…white or green.  So, we keep our doors open in the Winter.  And, I’ll keep sharing some (warm and) timely outdoor living thoughts with you…like this:

Urbandale Front Porch, pre-Archadeck

Urbandale Front Porch, post-Archadeck

Front Porches…the gateways to your home…are one of the most taken-for-granted, under-appreciated aspects of your home.  And, of outdoor living.  Yet, over the Holiday Season more than any other time of the year, the Front Porch…the front of your home, in general…takes on its most prominent role.  When going to, and hosting, your various holiday gatherings, where do you enter other’s homes?…and where do they enter yours?  What do you decorate for the holidays?  Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go, right?  Doesn’t that Norman Rockwell vision include a front porch on Grandma’s house?

Front Porch and Paver Sidewalk - Johnston

Archadeck’s role as a custom design/build firm specializing in outdoor living spaces, rooms and accessories is traditionally targeted to the back yard.  In fact, we’ve had a marketing tag line that refers to Archadeck as “The Backyard Company.”  While I’ve rarely used that tag, when meeting with folks around the Des Moines area I often refer to myself as a “backyard project manager.”  But, our products and services position us well to apply our same design, structural and product applications to front porches and entryways…and we often do.

Des Moines Front Porch, pre-Archadeck

Des Moines Front Porch with Pergola, post-Archadeck

Roofs are roofs, whether they are over a screen porch, a sunroom or a front porch.  Decking and railing products used on our deck spaces can be used in a front porch application.  Something I’ve really come to like is incorporating pergolas into front porch areas…in the right setting.  Same is true with stone and hardscaping… incorporating stone or brick on post columns and using something other than plain concrete (pavers, decorative concrete, etc.) as the pathway to your front door.  All of these components commonly found in our backyard deck, porch and patio projects can be incorporated into a front porch/entry way design that fits both the style of your home and the “welcome” you want to offer.  The “curb appeal” these enhancements can make to your home – year round – can be dramatic.

Front Porch - Maxwell - pre-Archadeck

Completed Front Porch with Pergola and Stone, Maxwell

In addition to the pictures scattered throughout this posting, check out our “Front Porches and Porticos” photo gallery on our web site to see more of some of the front porch projects we’ve done in and around Des Moines and Central Iowa.

So, through the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season, with people coming and you going, give all those front porches a second look…a second thought.  They’re hard to miss this time of year!

Happy Holidays!

Is Your Backyard So Bright, Its Gotta Have Shade?

Gotta Wear 'Em

Whenever I think of pergolas, the song “Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” by Timbuk3 always comes to mind.  Its not so much the pergola, per se, that connects me to that song, but the shade that folks around Des Moines and Central Iowa are looking for from their pergolas.  As in, “my backyard’s so bright, its gotta have shade”…from a pergola.

White Vinyl Pergola, West Des Moines

Pergolas are one of our product lines that people get a little confused about, though.  The questions range from…what is a pergola?, to…what do you call it?, to… how do you pronounce it?  Is it a pergola or a trellis or an arbor?  Or a roof?  Unfortunately, dictionary.com doesn’t help much with that, saying its  “an arbor formed of horizontal trellis work…”  and that it originates from the Italian/Latin word “pergula” meaning a “projecting roof, arbor.”

Bayed Pergola, Urbandale

Maybe for pergolas as much as any of the other products we design and build (decks, porches, gazebos, patios, outdoor kithchens, and more), pictures are worth a thousand words.  So within this post I’ve scattered a few of the pergolas we’ve built around Central Iowa and the Des Moines area.  For more, visit our Shade/Pergolas & Trellises photo gallery on our web site.

As you can see, pergolas can take on nearly any size or shape.  And, they can be located nearly anywhere…over a patio, over a deck, over a garden area in your yard…even as part of a front entry way…something we’re finding more interest in and doing more of.   Pergolas can be freestanding or attached to a structure; what works best depends on its location and purpose.  Pergolas also can be built in a variety of material choices, some more low-maintenance than others.  Wood (cedar is our recommended wood; though treated southern yellow pine may also be appropriate), vinyl (generally in  white, but with recent tan availability), aluminum, fiberglass and molded urethane (the latter three require painting) are the pergola materials we have worked with in our pergola projects around Des Moines.

Front Porch Pergola, Des Moines

Another common question about pergolas revolves around what they do…how functional are they when it comes to providing relief from sun or rain?  The latter aspect, rain, is an easy answer:  None.  As for the sun relief…shade, which is what most folks are looking for from a pergola, that answer is easy, too, though a bit vague:  Some.  Certainly, don’t expect full shade coverage from a pergola.  But, they do break up the direct light of the sun; how much will depend on several factors including “tightness” of the rafters and stringers, the time of day/angle of the sun.

Multi-Level Cedar Pergola on Patio, Ames

My standard summary of these considerations is this:  Pergolas are as much about aesthetics as they are about shade.  But, that’s assuming you like the look of a pergola and it fits the style you are looking for on your house and/or in your outdoor living spaces.  If you do…and you’re looking for some shade and some sense of coziness in your outdoor living space, then a pergola may be perfect for you.

If you’re interested in learning more about pergolas and their applicability to your outdoor living spaces, give us a call or contact us online and we’ll be glad to schedule a complimentary, on-site design consultation with you.

Vinyl Pergola, Holiday Inn and Suites, West Des Moines

In addition, we’re in week 3 of a 4-week promotion we’re doing on our Facebook page and this week’s promotion is centered around pergolas.  Each week we’ve been drawing for prizes from our new “fans” on Facebook.  This week’s prize is a $50 gift certificate to Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse.  What, if any, is the connection?  Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse is located in the Holiday Inn & Suites at 60th and Westown Parkway in West Des Moines.  We worked with the developer there back in 2007 to deliver and install the long, white vinyl, curved pergola around the garden/patio area on the east side of the hotel.  Check it out…its one of our more visible projects.  Plus, “Like” our Facebook page and you’re entered for the drawing to the Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse there; if you win, you can check it out then, too!

Here’s to your bright future on an Archadeck designed/built outdoor living space!  And, “good luck” with that drawing!

Summer Is Short, but Archadeck Outdoor Living is Year-Round

Stars and Stripes on Archadeck Deck and Patio

I hope you’re all enjoying a nice, long 4th of July weekend around the Des Moines and Central Iowa area!  And, I hope, plenty of outdoor living – celebrating – to go with this summer holiday.  On the deck.  On the porchOutdoor kitchen smoking the tastiest chicken this side of Memphis.  Fireworks.  Back home for a nightcap in the screen porch.  Kids lighting sparklers off the firepit flame on the patio.  Happy Birthday, America!

Today’s light, quick, scattered showers notwithstanding, Mother Nature is cooperating nicely here in Des Moines.  Seems like we haven’t had many of these summer days, summer weekends yet this summer.  Not enough nice days, evenings, weekends to enjoy out on the deck or patio.  And yet, the calendar says July 4th.  Summer is already slipping away.

That’s an attitude I’ve gotten a sense of the past few weeks as I’ve been out visiting with Des Moines-area folks about their outdoor living space needs and desires.  Certainly, wet and cool weather influences that thought…and we seem to get plenty of that in Spring, anymore.  Our lifestyles – busier than ever – also give the sense that time is slipping away…regardless of season (though, why does Winter last so long?).  So, what to do?

Here are three “attitude adjusters” to consider to help you extend your enjoyment of your outdoor living spaces, rooms and accessories…

Shade from an Archadeck Design-Built Pergola, Urbandale

Attitude Adjuster #1:  Summer doesn’t actually start until June 21st.  Winter doesn’t start until December 21st.  Sure, we so badly want winter to be over that we want to get out and enjoy the great Central Iowa outdoors as soon as we can in the Spring…and as long as we can in the Fall.  But, I think (but not confirmed with the National Weather Service; its an intuitive hunch based on 54 years of living in Iowa) there are generally more “nice days” between June 21st and December 21st, than there are between December 21st and June 21st.  Our anticipation for getting out on the deck, on the patio, in the pool, under the pergola is greater in the latter period. And when the former period arrives…nearly the instant it arrives…we start lamenting that summer is over. Summer is just beginning!  The best is (still) ahead.

Honest to God truth:  As I am writing this, I have on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball game – Dodgers/Angels.  Commercial break; two commercials…back to back.  The first, a promotion for Las Vegas…theme:  “Life is short.  Summer is shorter.”  The second one, an advertisement for Kingsford Charcoal…theme: “Slow down and grill.”  Anybody else see those?

Life is short.  Summer is shorter.  Slow down and grill.  I couldn’t have said it better.  Except to add…go to Vegas in the winter!

Gazebo on Brick Paver Patio with Firepit, Des Moines

Attitude Adjuster #2:  Life is short.  Enjoy Fall, Winter and Spring, too.  Design, build and accessorize your outdoor living spaces and rooms to maximize their use throughout the year.  There are aesthetic and ambience appeals to a roof, but a roof over a deck or a patio will give you relief from sun and rain…depending on how low the sun is and how windy the rain is.  Screens, walls and windows are optional with that roof, but each further extends the functionality of the room, particularly as the weather degrades…day-to-day or season-to-season.  A fireplace in that porch – open or enclosed – will take some of the chill off those early Spring and late Fall evenings.  Not to mention, a nice ambience on those Summer evenings.   (In a couple of weeks, we’ll be starting a project for an Urbandale client that will include a screen porch with a fireplace; stay tuned for updates.)  Even something as simple as some strategically-placed deck and landscape lighting can extend the usage of your outdoor spaces:  Go outside and play…at night! 

Design for Screen Porch with Fireplace - Coming Soon in Urbandale

Attitude Adjuster #3:  Life is short.  Sometimes we can’t slow down…to grill or to go to Vegas…and time gets away from us.  If that happens to you this summer…this fall…and you go through another year without that new outdoor living space you desperately want, we’re here to help…year-round.  The key to getting your outdoor living spaces in shape is that first step – design.  And we do that year-round.  Even build year-round (with “breaks” for blizzards, ice and sub-zero temperatures).  But…horse before the cart:  Design.  Download our Design Guide and keep it handy.  Review it as you get a chance over the coming weeks and months.  Stay in touch with us here.  Like our Facebook page and follow-quick, fun updates about us and our projects there (or on Twitter).  Check our web site regularly; photo galleries will be refreshed as new projects are completed and Special Offers and other news and information will be announced there as well.  Then, if Summer completely slips you by, and you want to enjoy your outdoor from new spaces in the Spring…next Spring…you can contact us in the Fall or the Winter (or even tomorrow) and we can make your new outdoor living space, room and accessories happen for next Spring (or sooner).

Enjoy your Summer!