Tag Archives: Azek

Navigating the Curves of Decks…and Life

question-pic-01In one sense, I’m not sure where this is going to go. In another sense, I know exactly where its going.

Starting with what I know…

For one, I know we’re going outdoors. Outdoors in Central Iowa. Where we’ve always been…on Archadeck designed-and-built decks, porches and patios around Des Moines and the surrounding area.

For two, I know we’re going to move. We have hosted this “An Outdoor Living Space” blog on WordPress since its inception in the fall of 2009. Counting this post, we’ve published 87 posts on our blog here to date and there have been over 100,000 views of these posts over this timeframe. All a testament to the popularity and interest in outdoor living spaces as a valuable and necessary extension of your home and our experience in successfully bringing those spaces to life in hundreds of Central Iowa backyards. Thank you for following and reading us here over the years…wherever you live.

For three, I know where we’re going to move. In concert with this post, we will be transitioning to hosting our blogging on our central-iowa.archadeck.com web site. Look for the same outdoor living conversations and content at the “Our Blog” tab at central-iowa.archadeck.com. We look forward to seeing you on the other side! We will keep the historical content here and we’ll occasionally post on “An Outdoor Living Space” here, too, for nostalgia purposes. So don’t lose us here!

Now, as far as what I don’t know…

curves-pic-012016 threw us a couple of curves. Personally, the curve was physical and mental…the way a hard-breaking Nolan Ryan curve ball leaves your knees weak…and the way a Joe Frazier rounder punch to the gut leaves you gasping for air.  And more.  Professionally, the curve was visual…geometry and radiuses coming together…bringing soft and aesthetically pleasing curves to lines in a world that are too often harsh and rigidly square.

What I don’t know is how far to go in connecting the dichotomy of these two “curves.”  In my mind, they are connected because when you own your own small business, everything in your life is connected. There are certainly personal and professional lines, but they are blurred – if not erased – more than they are clear. So its hard for me to ignore the personal “curve” – the tragic accident this past spring that took the life of our granddaughter’s father and severely injured her mother…our daughter – and the impact that event had on me, personally and professionally.  Suffice it to say that if you’ve noticed a “silence” here (nearly 18 months since my last post), this “curve” was a significant factor in that.

But, amidst the events of that tragedy and our daughter’s subsequent miraculous (and ongoing) recovery, the business of Archadeck of Central Iowa continued and, in fact, thrived. Thanks in great part to the entire Archadeck team (David Cross, construction manager; Nolan Benge, design consultant; our crews) who stepped up to spell me when I was otherwise consumed with our family’s tragedy (particularly in the spring…our really busy season). Part of the thriving, too, is the nice outdoor living project opportunities our clients continue bringing us to design and build. Thank you for those opportunities! 3 of those opportunities this year resulted in deck spaces featuring significant curved features, something we’ve done once before but something we see becoming more popular and curved-decks-des-moines-archadeck-01commonplace…like curved patios. So commonplace, in fact, that we invested in and acquired our own Trex Custom Curve machine to help facilitate curved decks with curved decking in those 3 projects in and around Des Moines (with many more to come). Don’t let the Trex name fool you, we can (and have) also curved Azek decking in addition to Trex’s decking products. So, that was the professional “curve” thrown us this year. And with that, we’re now ready to throw you some curves! Continue to watch our web site’s photo galleries and our new blog site there for more photos and information on our Des Moines area curved deck projects and capabilities.

profile-hcOne last point of closure as we transition this blog to our web site, speaking of connections and personal and professional lines being blurred: A couple of years ago, I started a side blog project called “Outdoor Living Notes” where I occaisionally write about the convergence of two passions of mine: outdoor living and music. One professional, one personal…but with more connections and overlap than one might think (especially if you don’t think like me). Needless to say, that site, too, has been quiet as a result of the curves thrown at me this year. But, music being the healer it can be and has been, there are a lot of pent up words to be written there, too. So, look for that to soon become active again; give it a read…listen, too, if you’d like. The “Outdoor Living Notes” blog will remain here on WordPress.

Go Outside and Play!  Run circles (curves) while you’re at it!  Then circle on over to our web site-based version of “An Outdoor Living Space.”  See you there!

Profile with Sig - 2015

 

What Color Is This Des Moines Deck?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! If you’ve followed this blog (thank you) about outdoor living spaces, rooms and accessories around Des Moines and Central Iowa, then you know that there’s always a theme here this time of year: Color! Playing off, of course…green beer.

I’m always fearful of recycling this content, fearing that you’ll lose interest and the lack of creativity will drive you away. But, you don’t seem to mind as these posts, collectively, are still some of our most popular…just like green beer.

What Color Is This Dress?

What Color?

So this year, on the heels of the recent release of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie and the “What Color is this Dress?” viral social media story, we’re playing off more than just green beer.  New color stories seem to be everywhere, including in the Archadeck world of decks, porches, patios and…(stay tuned) outdoor furniture.

New color offerings in the world of decking include:

  • Trex Transcends capped composite decking now comes in two new colors since last spring: Island Mist and Havana Gold . These add two more hues to the already vibrant tropical color line that still includes Spiced Rum, Tiki Torch and Lava Rock.
  • TimberTech expanded their very popular Earthwood Evolutions Legacy collection of capped composite with a nice Ashwood color. In their Terrain value collection, 3 colors were added: Rustic Elm, Silver Maple and Stone Ash.
  • Azek introduced a beautiful new Vintage Collection of PVC decking just this spring; the 3 color offerings in this line include Cypress, Dark Hickory and Mahogony.
Trex Transcends - Spiced Rum over Lava Rocks

Trex Transcends – Spiced Rum over Lava Rocks

For those keeping score, that’s 9 new color offerings across just those three brands of wood-alternative decking products in the past year. Breaking that score down further, 4 of those were some shade of grey. Believe it or not, 50 shades of grey decking is not beyond the realm of possibility…someday.

burst_DR_ExpressYourselfIn the world of railing, I think Feeney’s DesignRail aluminum system has introduced the biggest color splash for spring: BOLD COLORS!  The opposite of grey.  Bold, as in green, blue, red, orange and yellow…nearly all the colors of a vibrant rainbow!

In an effort to accommodate these ever-changing colors in the world of decking and railing, we re-worked our office and design studio last spring to allow more flexibility in our displays of these products. When you’re ready to custom-design your outdoor living space with us, we’ve got a very effective facility to help take the “fear of the unknown” out of your decision-making process.

Archadeck Office & Design Studio

Archadeck Office & Design Studio

In the Archadeck world, a whole new spectrum of colors has been introduced through our new offering this spring of Casuwel outdoor living furniture and accessories. Archadeck of Central Iowa – along with our Casuwel All CollectionsOutdoor Living Brands, Inc. franchise cohorts, – is proud to announce that we are now certified sales reps for Casuwel premium outdoor furniture. We offer substantial savings off published internet prices and our initial offering consists of 4 woven collections, all with a wide variety of color and pattern fabric options for their cushion options. Accessories include pillows, rugs and umbrellas…also offered in a wide assortment of colors. Did I say colors? We have all the weave and fabric samples in our office and design studio now, along with brochures and catalogs. So, we can easily work with you to configure the furniture needs of your outdoor living space – whether an existing space or a new Archadeck designed/built space. In early April, we will have two of the Casuwel collections on display in our office / design studio, allowing you to check out the fine quality and styling of Casuwel for yourself.   We are excited to be offering this new product line. Beautiful, custom-designed/built decks, porches and patios, and now the outdoor furniture to allow you to fully enjoy your outdoor living experience.

With the nice, warm weather we’re having, I hope you get a chance to celebrate some of the early rites of spring – St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness (never madder than in Iowa, this year) and the First Day of Spring – outdoors on your decks, patios and porches around Des Moines.   If your outdoor living spaces aren’t up for these types of celebrations, contact us for a free design consultation to see how we can brighten your outdoor living spaces.

Go Outside and Play!

Profile with Sig - 2015

Des Moines Home + Garden + Archadeck | Outdoor Living = 12 Years

Twelve years ago, on a late Friday afternoon, I got off a long-awaited, return-flight home to Des Moines after a 3-week Archadeck orientation training course with our franchisor in Richmond, VA. Two hours later, I was exhibiting Archadeck of Central Iowa’s deck and porch business at my first Des Moines Home + Garden Show.   Talk about hitting the ground running!

Twelve years ago, all the exhibitors (and attendees) were crammed into Veterans Memorial Auditorium – both floors. The buzz and energy in the building was exciting – as was my experience as a first-time exhibitor.

Des Moines Hone + Garden Show

Des Moines Hone + Garden Show

Twelve years later, we are about to embark on our 12th consecutive Des Moines Home + Garden Show. The show starts at noon on Thursday, February 12th, and continues thru Sunday, February 15th at 6pm. Check the show web site for details; you’ll find us nearly where we started 12 years ago…on the lower-level of whats now a building with a name so long it would break the internet if I spelled it out here…but essentially, Vets Auditorium – or “The Barn” – as us old-time Des Moinians still call it.

A lot has changed in 12 years. Or has it? We’re still Archadeck and we’re still in the basement of Vets…and we’re just as excited. Why the excitement after all these years? We’re excited for all that has changed – and continues to change. Here’s the Top 12 exciting changes over our 12 year run at the Des Moines Home + Garden Show:

  1. Hy-Vee Hall…Iowa Events Center. The old Vets – newly repurposed and renamed a few years back – is now integrated with the new Hy-Vee Hall and Wells Fargo Arena facilities and grouped into the Iowa Events Center. None of these latter facilities existed 12 years ago. The addition of the Iowa Events Center complex is representative of the excitement and growth associated with Des Moines over the past decade. That buzz expands to the Des Moines Home + Garden Show every year and the growth and excitement of the show parallels Des Moines as a whole. The show now fills every nook and cranny of Hy-Vee Hall and the exhibition space at Vets. We’ve been in nearly all those nooks and crannies over our 12 years exhibiting there.
  2. Outdoor Living. I said on Sherry Failor’s Welcome Home Des Moines radio show last week that no one really invented “outdoor living.” But, Archadeck was in the “outdoor living” business over 30 years ago. We were always more than decks and porches and we knew that. But, Archadeck’s name – while a well identified and reputable brand – didn’t articulate that very well. What to do? About 6 years ago…Archadeck | Outdoor Living. Moving life outdoors.   In stunning style.
  3. Pressure = Excitement. 4 days before the show and we don’t know what we’re going to put together for our exhibit. How exciting is that? Pressure-filled excitement is what that is. But, always exciting to see it come together.
  4. Lower-Maintenance, Wood-Alternative Products. 12 years ago – and for the first few years – our exhibits were composed of primarily cedar (wood)…cedar deck, cedar pergola, cedar walls. This weekend (as we have for several years), we’ve incorporated 3 –generations of wood-alternative decking into our exhibit as well as stone walls. No wood. Lower maintenance. No splinters.
  5. Low-Maintenance Trex Transcends Deck with OUtdoor Kitchen - West Des Moines

    Low-Maintenance Trex Transcends Deck with Outdoor Kitchen – West Des Moines

    Year-Round Exhibit. The Home + Garden Show demonstrates how beneficial an Archadeck exhibit is to both us and our clients. So, in 2009 we developed and opened a year-round home show, in effect. Our Urbandale office space has evolved with our products and services, and is now an interactive, collaborative, design studio for our clients.

  6. Product Evolutions.  Wood-alternative decking and railing products change every year – new technologies, new aesthetics, improved performance. There are only about 3 boards we’re showing (and using) in our exhibit (in Central Iowa backyards) that existed more than 5 years ago.
  7. Technology, the Internet and Social Media. Twelve years ago I couldn’t write a blog about the Home + Garden Show. Today, I can not only do that, but I can also post photos and reports from the show on Facebook, live-tweet from the show and access our complete photo gallery on my iPad…but since that’s so small, we’ll just stream it on the 52” high-definition monitor we’ve got in our exhibit instead.
  8. Fleetwood Mac. They are opening the show this year! Next door…Wells Fargo Arena…the night before. World Turning.
  9. Casuwel by Archadeck

    Casuwel by Archadeck

    Outdoor Furniture. To truly live outdoors, you need spaces, rooms and accessories for your outdoor life. We’ve designed, incorporated and provided accessories like lighting, outdoor kitchens, bars, fireplaces, fire pits and more in our outdoor living projects for many years. Later this spring, we’re rounding that out with a new, attractive, offering of Caswel outdoor furniture, with exclusive offerings through Archadeck | Outdoor Living and our other Outdoor Living Brands, Inc. family of outdoor-oriented businesses. Look for more news on this later this spring or talk to us about it at the show.

  10. Free Admission Tickets. Free. How exciting is that? Well, not as exciting as winning the nearly $500 million Powerball prize…but your odds are better. Just be one of the first 4 people to message or post to us on our Facebook page to receive 2 complimentary admission tickets to the Des Moines Home + Garden Show. After confirmation, we’ll leave them at Will Call for you. The only requirement is that you stop by our exhibit and say “Hi!”
  11. Valentines Day. Yeah, once in a while…3 or 4 times now, I think, the show lands on Valentine’s Day. Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses at our exhibit! And that’s not yet a name for a Trex, TimberTech or Azek deck board…but I bet its been considered. It would go well with Spiced Rum and Havana Gold (actual Trex Transcends deck color names).
  12. Home + Outdoor Living. Stay tuned for news on this one. Marketplace Events, the promoter of the Des Moines Home + Garden Show has just announced plans for a new (second) show in March of 2016. To be called…The Des Moines Home + Outdoor Living Show.  See bullets 1 and 2, above. With (one of the only companies / exhibitors)  “Outdoor Living” in its name, I think I know where we’re going to be next March. But, is 13 a lucky or unlucky number for us in regards to the Des Moines Home + Garden Show? Stay tuned for more excitement.

I hope to see you at the 2015 Des Moines Home + Garden Show.

Go Outside and Play!

Profile with Sig - 2015

Be Safer On Your Decks, Des Moines

Coming off a very nice Memorial Day weekend here in Central Iowa, KCCI TV8 is reporting a deck collapse in West Des Moines over the holiday weekend. Following on the heels of my last post here right before Memorial Day where I highlighted many of the opportunities this “season” gives us to celebrate outdoors on our decks, patios and porches, this incident emphasizes the criticality of deck safety. Close to home. Fortunately, for this family, apparently only minor – but widespread – injuries were reported. That is the best news in this story.

NADRA Deck SafetyThe North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) designates May as Deck Safety Month and has an ongoing program dedicated to deck safety. I’ve maintained a separate page here on this blog site in that regard. Written 4 years ago, its still timely and holds true so I’ll just refer / link you to that deck safety page.

Archadeck puts a “BE SAFER” spin on these principles and guidelines, offering tips and suggestions to ensure your deck is safe at our national Deck Safety page which I’m also referring / linking you to here. Associated with our “BE SAFER” program is our offering of complimentary deck inspections and design consultations.

Framing Plans for Urbandale Deck-Porch Project

Deck safety – the structural soundness of your deck – is serious business. If its not taken that way, the results can be devastating. At Archadeck of Central Iowa, each of our projects go thru a thorough analysis by our franchise structural team resulting in detailed plans for loading and spanning the various structural components of a deck…footings, posts, beams, joists, fastener schedules and the connection to the house (when connected there). Our design loads generally exceed minimum code requirements (do you want a car that gets minimum gas mileage requirements…or a car that exceeds those requirements? ). Those plans are filed with our building permits and are the basis for building approval and the appropriate inspection schedules as construction progresses to completion of your project. We warrant our structural integrity for 5 years.

Completed Urbandale Deck-Porch Project

“Better Building by Design” is a tag line we use frequently. But, its more than a tag line, its our guiding principle and it takes many forms. Not the least of which is: a safer deck.

If you have concerns about the overall safety of your Des Moines area deck, or want to learn more about deck design and construction as it relates to deck safety and structural requirements, I would certainly encourage you to contact Archadeck of Central Iowa or any other reputable, experienced deck builder. If you prefer a more independent, yet still knowledgeable, resource for your assessment, I would encourage you to contact your local building department and their inspection teams.

Be safe out there!

Harold Cross, Archadeck of Central Iowa

Memorial Day: Celebrating Life, Outdoors in Central Iowa

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend. Already. And, yet, it seemed so long in coming. A tough winter here in Des Moines…Central Iowa…and many places across this great country. And a tough spring (or was it winter?) followed.

Maybe moreso than any other holiday, there are many events, celebrations, milestones and memories associated with Memorial Day and the weekend(s) around it.

  • Memorial Day

    Memorial Day

    First and foremost, the “true meaning” of Memorial Day: Originally known as Decoration Day, it was a day set aside to remember soldiers who died in the Civil War. Unfortunately, more wars followed and so have the lives of (too) many American service men and women. So, the day has evolved to remember all Americans who have sacrificed their lives in military service for the freedoms the rest of us enjoy. The “decoration” part comes from the tradition of decorating soldiers’ graves with flags and flowers. That aspect of the tradition has further expanded to general maintenance and decoration – and memorials – of all family members’ graves sites, regardless of their military service. Cemeteries never look better than they do on Memorial Day.

  • Folks in the southern half of the country may not appreciate this as much as those of us in the Des Moines latitudes and above, but Memorial Day’s place on the calendar positions it at what has become the “unofficial” start of summer. Or, some might say, the “official” start of the outdoor living season…maybe the first weekend of full-blown outdoor parties or social gatherings on your deck or patio. Not to mention pool openings and pool parties. Technically, the summer solstice happens on June 21st (give or take a few hours), when the sun hits its peak. Technically, outdoor living season can be anytime…if you’re properly equipped with a 3-or-4-season room, a firepit or fireplace, a heated pool or hot tub…or skis and layers of Thinsulate.   But, why wait?
  • School’s Out For Summer! Going hand-in-hand with the start of summer, school years end around Memorial Day as well. And with that comes various graduation celebrations as our children and grandchildren pass from one education level to the next…ultimately into the “real world.” Many of these celebrations also occur outdoors on decks, porches and patios with outdoor kitchens as functional as the one next to your living room inside. But, with a better view of the big Iowa sky and landscape.
  • Two of auto racing’s biggest events dominate sports entertainment
    Indianapolis 500

    Indianapolis 500

    around Memorial Day weekend (Sunday). In Indianapolis, Indiana, its Indy Car’s crown jewel…maybe racing’s overall crown jewel…the Indianapolis 500. Later in the day, Charlotte, North Carolina (home of our largest Archadeck office), hosts NASCAR’s Coca Cola 600, its longest distance race. Good luck to Kurt Bush, who will try to become only the fourth driver in history to complete both races on the same day. Maybe you will catch many of his anticipated 2,400 left turns on the outdoor TV’s that are getting installed more frequently on the patios, porches and decks we’re designing and building here in the Des Moines area.

While all these activities may seem a bit disparate, a common theme here is all the opportunities that Memorial Day gives us to (finally – after a long winter) get outdoors…to live outdoors…to celebrate outdoors, eat and drink outdoors.

Archadeck of Central Iowa designs and builds spaces for these purposes year-round. Not just for uses around Memorial Day, but for year-round use (seasonally, depending on the space). This year, though, we had an exceptional number of projects that were started last fall and over the winter (a very tough winter for the building side of our business) that were specifically targeted for many of these activities associated with Memorial Day.

Clive  (Des Moines) Trex Transcends Deck

Clive (Des Moines) Trex Transcends Deck

A Clive family engaged us last fall for a new Trex Transcends deck with Westbury aluminum railing, to be completed in time for their Memorial Day weekend graduation party; started in early November, we completed it a couple of weeks ago. We actually had breathing room on this one.

Waukee (Des Moines) TimberTech Azek XLM Deck

A Waukee family considered several design options for the new TimberTech/Azek XLM deck space they wanted for their graduation party, ultimately settling on a curved deck with a hot tub and an outdoor kitchen. Stone columns were incorporated into the design to enhance the aesthetics of this space. This design effort was completed in December. But a surprise need for a variance with the City (resulting from a prior contractor’s oversight) delayed our construction start until mid-January; the cold and deep frost then slowed our efforts dramatically.   But, we had the project ready for their party held on May 3rd.

Trex Transcends over Elevations Steel Framing – Ankney (Des Moines)

We built a new Trex Transcends deck – structured with Trex’s Elevations steel framing system – for an Ankeny couple last fall. The deck leads to their in-ground pool and includes built-in seating and wide stairs book-ended by stone columns…which didn’t get fully installed before it got too cold last fall.   That stone went on this week – the same day they opened their pool. Their deck will make a big first splash this Memorial Day weekend.

TimberTech Earthwoods Open Porch – Des Moines

A Des Moines family (and a neighbor of mine) engaged us last December for a new open porch over a TimberTech Earthwoods Evolutions deck with Westbury aluminum railing. Their son serves in the military, stationed in Alaska, and was scheduled for a Memorial Day weekend leave to visit his family at home…and celebrate with them on their new porch and deck.  Stone column work was completed this week and the project was ready for this soldier’s return. I think I hear them celebrating now!

To be sure, Mother Nature’s harsh winter complicated our efforts to get these four Des Moines-area outdoor living projects completed in time for their various Memorial Day timeframe deadlines. But, we did complete them….by the skin of our teeth. Additionally, our delays in getting the Dream Backyard Makeover Contest-wining project in Huxley completed last fall was also a factor of the early, hard and long winter we had. That project was also completed earlier this month and the Bentrott’s have been enjoying the space the past couple of weekends.  But we’re waiting for the “grand reveal” of that project until the official “launch” party, currently targeted for mid-July (stay tuned).

On the flip side, two springs ago (2012) we were laying Belgard paver patios in March in 80-degrees in shorts and t-shirts.

Weather – particularly in spring – and its impact on our outdoor living space building capabilities, is a roll-of-the-dice anymore. All the more reason that if you want a new Central Iowa outdoor living space to enjoy early next year, you should be contacting us sooner than later. All the more reason to celebrate Memorial Day and all it has come to represent. All the more reason to…Go Outside and Play!

Happy Memorial Day!

Harold Cross, Archadeck of Central Iowa