Enclosing A Deck Part 4 – Building and Materials

Enclosing A Deck Part 4 – Building and Materials

3 Season Room

Hello again and welcome to Enclosing A Deck Part 4 – Building and Materials. As discussed in my previous posts we decided to go with American Patio Rooms as our builder for our enclosed deck. I thought I would write few words about what they had available and why we selected them. We mentioned the BBB and the feel of a family run business as being something very important to us. However, even with that we still needed to feel good about the product they are selling and the team of people who will be at our house working. In the next few paragraphs I will highlight some of the key things you should look for with your patio or deck enclosure.

What To Look For From Your Builder
All too many of us have experienced the starting of a project only to have the builders vanish for days or weeks while they go to another site and begin work there. This leads to a lot of disappointment and your spouse saying “you should have listened to me”.  My dad had a sun-room added to his house and when the contractors showed up they were subs and totally incompetent. It lead to a few weeks of delay with ultimately a backhoe arriving to rip out everything done by the previous team. American Patio Rooms doesn’t work with sub-contractors, they use their own team with years of experience. When someone is cutting into your roof you want them to have been there and done that before! Another plus is that they work on your enclosure until it is done, no jumping to another job before they are done with yours. These are probably the two biggest headaches you can have when working with builders.

The Style
There are lots of styles to choose from, and as mentioned in my previous posts you need to have an idea of what you are looking to get out of the room, and of course what your budget is. The room is adding square feet to your house and you don’t want something poorly built or of low quality that could reduce the value of your home. Your budget will really help make some decisions for you along with how you want to use your deck. You could have just a roof covering your deck (open roof), a screened in porch, a 3 season room, hybrid, or a 4 season room. For us the best price point was a hybrid enclosure that is between a 3 season and a 4 season room, with a flat sloping roof instead of a gable roof. We wanted the weather protection and the chance to use our deck up to eight months (and hopefully a little more than that).

Harold Brown

Covered Porch with a Flat or Open Roof

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Gable Roof on a Hybrid Room

 

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Solid Bottom Wall

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Bottom Glass Wall

 

The Materials
The materials used for enclosures can vary quite a bit. We expect our enclosed deck to be water tight and standup to the strong winds from the west. The deck is on the second floor, and we will have wind blowing above and below the deck. Our house has a very steep slope and water can rush down and sometimes overrun the gutters. We really need a 6” gutter which the builder took note of immediately. We need windows that won’t shake and rattle in the wind or if pushed on can leave a gap or space for something to come through them. For our Hybrid enclosure the windows and door have ¾” insulated glass and Low E with Argon, and heavy duty locks and hardware. To finish off the enclosure we have heavy duty weather-stripping, insulated roof, and wall panels. Since this isn’t a 4 season room, the roof and wall panels do not have a thermal break.

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Heavy Duty Locks

Enclosing A Patio and Deck

3″ Wall Insulation

Enclosing A Patio and Deck

Thermal Break and Insulation

Electrical
Electric wires can be run through the walls, and outlets placed into the walls just like you find in your home, giving you a neat and finished look. For our enclosure we have a double spot light to light up the backyard for security.

Extras
We decided that we wanted to had about 4.5 feet to the length of the deck to make it 18 feet long. It will give us a nice little area to put a table and chairs to enjoy our meals without cluttering the main area of the deck. This is an important thing to consider, you don’t want to regret not expanding your deck if it is on the small side.

That about sums it up. We are still looking at patio furniture and tile trying to decide on exactly what we want for our finished room. The next post will be when the builders show up to start the job.

Photo document your life. Get out there and takes some pictures of the memories that are created every day.

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Enclosing A Deck Part 3 – Decorating Ideas

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Not bad looking

Enclosing A Deck Part 3 – Decorating Ideas

In Part 1 of this series I spoke about the history of my wife and I wanting to enclose our upper deck, in Part 2 I wrote about our design decisions and selecting a builder. In Part 3 I cover the process we are following thinking about adding the finishing touches to our deck once it is completed. We are still at least 4 weeks out from our enclosure being started, but my wife wanted to starting looking at what was available. Thinking about decorating can occur anytime, so why not start early getting inspired. You just might see something that you want to incorporate into the enclosed deck before it is built. For example we are now thinking about two outlets on each wall instead of one. That comes from our thinking more about lighting and wanting to have enough light if the occasion calls for it. We really don’t want a bunch of extension cords running everywhere.

Harold Brown

Floor Tile

Part of enclosing the deck is putting down a plywood floor on top the old one. That seals out the elements and bugs, but leaves a floor that will need to be covered. Our obvious options are carpet, wood, ceramic tile, vinyl, cork, and laminate. My wife considered cork because it can retain heat and make for a warm floor after the sun sets. However there are too many cons with cork and she decided to skip it. We considered carpet because it is warmer and soft on the feet, but my wife wants something that looks neat and clean. Area rugs can be purchased and changed out over time, and bring similar benefits as carpet. No carpet! Vinyl, not sure why I listed it. :) My only contribution to the process was that I did not want to do laminate. We have it in our downstairs family room covering a larger area and it looks fine, but in the patio if we leave a window open and it rains into the room the laminate can be damaged easier. In the end my wife wanted tile because it is easy to keep it clean, and picking out lighter colors helps brighten the room. We are down to tile with only the style and color to decide on.

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A Color Scheme?

A big part of decorating is deciding on your colors and/or theme. My wife and I like beach themes when we are at the beach, but not in our home in Ohio. Just doesn’t fit. A country decor is cool in the country, not in the city. Many people may disagree with that and that is understandable, we just don’t care for the idea. So we really don’t have a theme, just colors in mind. The colors right now are yellow and blue with a tad of purple that gets picked up from our kitchen and great room. So now we have colors in mind and need a tile that blends in with the color pallet.

Harold Brown

A clean look

We went to a lot of local stores looking at patio furniture and seat coverings to get inspiration and see what is available. It is usually easier to identify what you don’t like when out looking around. Our deck is only 10 feet wide so bulky furniture could easily consume all the space and leave you with a claustrophobic feeling. So we need to find something that has a smaller foot print, yet comfortable to sit in and take a nap! Whatever that furniture turns out to be, we know what colors we would like to have.

Enclosing a Deck or Patio

Too big for the room

We are still considering what to do about a TV. My wife wants to have a small TV perhaps in the 26” size, but where do we put it? We are considering a table, but I have suggested a wall mount so we don’t use up any space for the TV. No decision there and in the end my wife needs to decide how she wants to do that. I just need to make sure I get the Dish Network cable into place so we have easy connection. For sure there needs to be internet access that should be covered by our wireless network.

Harold Brown

The Little Touches

Once the deck is enclosed and the tile is put into place we will start to get into a lot more detail for decorating, but right now we have a good idea of what we want. Stay tune for Enclosing A Deck Part 4 – Building and Materials.

I hope these posts help you with your plans for an enclosed deck or patio. Feel free to post comments or questions on any of the posts. I plan to provide detailed pictures of the building process once it begins.

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Enclosing A Deck Part 2 – Discovery

Enclosing A Deck

Our Upper Deck without the Gazebo

Enclosing A Deck Part 2 – Discovery

From Part 1 of this series you learned what brought us to the point of deciding on an enclosed deck/patio. If you want to know a little about the gazebos at your local home improvement store see part 1. Even though we had thought about an enclosure for 10 years, we still needed to put a few things down in writing so we wouldn’t overlook anything that we wanted to get out of the enclosure. I guess what really pushed us to the decision was the really bad winter we had just experienced in Ohio. It was a throwback to what our winters use to be like, colder and more snow!   We just want to enjoy the outdoors while being indoors, if that makes sense, and we want to enjoy our deck for more than just the summer months. Seven to eight months on the deck is something that we would really like to achieve. That means more than just a screened in porch! We would need windows. Year-round usage would be great, but a four season enclosure was more than what we wanted to invest for our house and neighborhood. For those times when we want to sit outside in the summer we can use the lower deck. Our grill will have to move to the lower deck as well.

Here is the list of what we wanted for the enclosure:

  • Floor to ceiling and wall to wall windows with screens
  • A deck we could use spring, summer and fall (and maybe push a little bit into winter)
  • Electrical outlets on all walls
  • Outdoor security light (the deck light will now be on the inside)
  • Add about 4.5 feet to the length of the deck making it a full 18 feet long
  • Insulated roof
  • Insulate under the deck since it is 10 feet off the ground
  • Give the underside of the upper deck a cleaner appearance since it can be seen from the lower deck
  • A place for an electric fireplace and mantel
Harold Brown

Dimplex Featherston Electric Fireplace Mantel

So we knew the type of room we wanted, but who to buy from and trust was another investigation. Fortunately we had seen the cheaper enclosures in our earlier investigations, and we didn’t want something like that attached to our house. Cheap lawn chairs can be thrown away, cheap add-ons to your house is a disaster waiting to happen. No thank you on that! A quick check at the BBB told us that the builder we met was in good standing for 50 years. After talking to a few people at work I discovered someone who had used them for their enclosed patio, and they came with high praise. So we decided on  American Patio Rooms in Akron, Ohio. They had already been very professional and friendly from the start. When the owner came to visit with us he addressed all of our questions and wants, but more importantly brought most of them up before we had to ask. That is impressive considering some of my experiences with other contractors. He was obviously well experienced in the business of enclosing decks.

We decided on what American Patio Rooms calls a hybrid room. A three season room with thermal pain windows, but no thermal break on the walls like a four season would have. We wanted to keep our costs low so we went with a flat roof, and since we are building on the second floor, shingles wouldn’t be needed. We sketched out the area for the fireplace, placing it in front of a small wall instead of windows. We signed the contract and got on the schedule to have the room built, about a 6 week wait depending on Ohio weather. Overall the cost was about $2,500 more than we wanted to spend, but you don’t want to go cheap on this part. It is another room on your house.

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I drew this sketch of the deck after our discussion with American Patio Rooms

I added a couple of pieces of furniture to the drawing to give my wife an idea of scale when she started thinking about decorating.

Finally, my wife created her list of wants. It was pretty simple. She decorates the deck how she wants it with no input from me. Now, while we wait for the deck to be enclosed, starts the decorating ideas that I will document in part 3. Floors, rugs, furniture lights and plants, oh and the fireplace.

The big takeaway here is to really think about what you want from your deck/patio room. Make sure it is the right size, and you can use it the way you want too. Staying in the house on cold days can seem more like a cave, and a room with all windows that is nice and warm with a fireplace can really change your mood.

Stay tune for Enclosing A Deck Part 3 – Decorating Ideas

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Enclosing A Deck Part 1 – History

Enclosing A Deck

Our backyard and house in 2006

Enclosing A Deck Part 1 – History

For the past 14 years we have enjoyed sitting on our upper deck taking in the sun and fresh air. The deck is 10’ by 13.5’ so not too bad to put out some furniture and a grill.  I take my camera out onto the deck and enjoy the sounds of the birds, and take a few pictures once in a while. My wife will have her afternoon tea and browse the internet on her iPad out on the deck. The big problem living in Ohio is this is all very limited. Add to that the rain and cold evenings in late summer and there isn’t much time out of the year actually spent on the deck. Naturally there are the flies and bees that like to pester you if you decide to eat at the patio table.

Enclosing A Deck

Looking East along the back side of the house

In 2007 we saw an 8×8 metal gazebo at our local home store on season clearance for $100. We decided to buy it for the next years use. It was a little small, but it fit on our deck and allowed us to use our grill and eat in peace. It could do very little with the rain blowing in from the west, but a light shower was no problem. There were however, two other problems. One was the holes to allow the water to poor off the canvas (and onto our seat cushions), and the wind which could do some pretty severe damage, so the canvas roof on the gazebo needed to be put on in June to avoid the spring storms.

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The Gazebo on the Upper Deck

Enclosing A Deck

A View From Our Gazebo

That worked out reasonably well from 2008 until June 7, 2011 when a big storm rolled in and destroyed the gazebo, ripping the brand new canvas roof to shreds and breaking the metal structure. I had spent the extra money for the heavy duty canvas and new netting that year to replace the older weathered canvas.  It had only been up a couple of weeks when bang, It was gone. We bought a new table and umbrella and went back to the standard patio furniture on the deck for 2011 – 2013.

The Gazebo Survived This Storm

Memorial Day Storm 5/31/2010 from Harold Brown on Vimeo.

 

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Gazebo On Our Deck

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Gazebo destroyed by wind storm

Through the years we had looked at various alternatives and talked about putting a roof on the porch, but could never really decide on anything that really addressed all of our concerns. Just a roof doesn’t solve the strong storms from the west, and adding screens doesn’t fix the short time to comfortably enjoy the deck.

We had thought about an enclosed deck, but at the time we really didn’t want to spend that much money. However, each time we visited a friend’s house with a sun-room why wife always commented on how she wished she had a sun-room. It is why we originally got the metal gazebo. So this year we started out the spring season by going to two home and garden shows. This time we visited local shows instead of the large show in Cleveland. We were kicking around ideas about new counter tops, a new wood floor in the great room, and a new driveway. As we were walking out of the show my wife took note of the enclosed patio on display and wanted to go in and see it. The owner of the company was there and we sat and talked to him and showed him pictures of our deck via the iPad. We setup an appointment, visited the show room, checked out the company and then started to plan what we wanted to do. See Enclosing A Deck Part 2 – Discovery for what we started to plan and think about before buying our enclosure.

So there you have it, the history of how we got to the point of deciding on an enclosed deck/patio. I hope you enjoyed the accompanying pictures that I took over the years of our upper deck. Two other pictures, the one below of a Jay on the deck, and the Goldfinches that I took from the deck looking down at them.

Harold Brown

This Jay was clearing away the snow with his beak. When it is 9 degrees Fahrenheit you work a little harder for food

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American Goldfinch

 

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Create Your Own Photography Style

Create Your Own Photography Style

This is what I call a realistic picture

What is your photography style? I would define my photo style as “realistic”. I don’t do a lot of textures and drastic changes to color because I like a more natural appearing picture, but I do like them and I have done a few here and there. Most likely in the coming year I will do a lot more textures and overlays. I am always looking at other peoples pictures and read blogs with the intent to improve my photography.  Then I look back at my pictures and see flaws in them and want to change them, I have to force myself to move on and let it go. When I read photography posts I quite often read things that really doesn’t set well with me. One of the blogs I decided to read (claiming they could improve my pictures) jeered removing the color from a picture leaving only one color. This they said was bad. Something about not natural, but they loved black and white which isn’t natural.  Then other people weighed in and condemned the action as well. They also complained about over saturation, and greens looking unnatural, but making a picture dark where it removes some color is just fine I guess. Sepia is cool and yet what is natural about that? It amazes me how some people have decided that they are the Kings and Queens of defining what is art, and what is bad and unpleasing.

 

Create Your Own Photography Style

I just don’t see anything wrong with this picture. I like it and therefore it is ok.

Create Your Own Photography Style

I like this one better though!

It really doesn’t make sense that no color is cool and one color is bad, except if the color is sepia, or too much color is bad. I prefer a little more individuality myself. I am not saying that over saturation is always cool, but I call the over saturation “post card” shots. Maybe over saturated green is liked more by people who live where it snows and everything is dead and dormant for months on end. I like an occasional over saturated picture. I have a few that I love, and it really doesn’t matter to me if anyone else loves them or not. The group think stuff is almost mob like. There is a fellow with a photography blog that I like and once in a while he shares some pics of his children. Nothing special about them, you see a lot of nice pics of kids everywhere. Except this guy has his children’s pictures shared by followers at a count of over 1,000 shares for a single pic. What? Nobody shares ordinary pics of kids like that, except this guy is popular and people share his pics, who they are sharing them with is beyond me since there is nothing special about them. If I sent him a pic and asked him to post it as his own I am sure it would be shared in the thousand plus count! Why? I guess there is a little paparazzi in all of us.

 

Create Your Own Photography Style

A postcard morning view of the Atlantic Ocean

Create Your Own Photography Style

HDR Effect created in Lightroom 5

HDR is popular and I like most of the HDR pictures that I see. HDR “like” processing is popular with some people and really doesn’t look that great, but I do use it once is a while and typically on a picture that otherwise doesn’t look all that good without taking a different apporach. Sometimes I use extreme processing to save a picture I like. Just give it a different look. Some HDR “like” pictures are cool, but wait…there are the self-appointed overlords that don’t agree with me.

Create Your Own Photography Style

This is not a great picture and I had to do a lot of work to make it look at least this good. However, I remember how beautiful my wife and the view was that evening. This picture helps me remember the evening.

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Marquette Hybrid red wine grapes with a texture and vignetting applied.

Pictures are about depicting life and creating moods, there are lots of ways to do that, and who is to say which one is right or wrong? Some pictures only have great meaning to you and no one else. Those are the best pictures! We only know what we personally like, and I kind of like it that way. Get your camera, get in and get the shot, and get out! Photo document your life as you live it. Happy shooting.

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1956 Chevy Belair Nomad

1956 Chevy Belair Nomad

This nice 1957 Nomad had the logo airbrushed onto the car!

In August 2011 I joined my friends Rich and Tom to check out the Wooster Ohio car show.We saw this blue 1956 Chevy Belair Nomad at the show that really made the trip worthwhile. A great looking car surrounded by other great cars. Very nice car show.

1956 Chevy Belair Nomad

1956 Nomad

Flag on top the Wayne County Court House

Wayne County Court House

 

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