Top 10 considerations when building a porch.

Interior of two story screened porch by Archadeck of Maryland

This screened porch by Archadeck of Central Maryland and Montgomery County boasts two levels of beauty and quality.

When making the decision to build an outdoor structure, or outdoor room there are many things to take into considerations. Making the right decisions early on in the process cannot only ensure your outdoor structure compliments your home and landscape, but it can also improve your lifestyle and add value to your property. And above all, it can impact your state of mind.

Archadeck of Central Maryland and Archadeck of Montgomery County pride ourselves in planning, designing and building outdoor structures that really make a difference in how you live. One such structure that is sure to add beauty and enjoyment to your life is a porch. Porches can be covered or uncovered; attached to your home, patio or deck; or even detached in a prime location within your landscape. We have compiled a list of the top ten considerations to think of in the planning stage when building the porch of your dreams.

Archadeck of Maryland Screened porch

This screened porch by Archadeck of Central Maryland and Montgomery County utilizes a fireplace for function and aesthetic appeal.

Top 10 considerations to consider when building a porch:

1) What function would you be performing in your porch? This by far is the first and foremost question to take into consideration as it dictates where the porch itself should be located, whether it will be detached or attached and what amenities it will need to include. Usually porches serve as either an extended outdoor family room, or an outdoor dining area, or a combination of both. If it will serve as an outdoor dining space, the porch’s proximity to your home’s kitchen is very important. If you are going to use the porch to function as an outdoor family room, then the proximity to the kitchen is not a big issue. You also need to consider how you want to utilize your space once the seasons change. If you want to make use of your space within the cooler months of the year you may consider building a convertible Artistic Enclosures porch, which uses wall systems to enhance your space from season to season, or Eze breeze by PGT , which uses a screen plus a sliding 4-track convertible system. If you want your porch to serve as an extension of the home because of a lack of indoor living space, you can make the porch a convertible space with windows that can be removed during the warm months, but serve your needs for an enclosed, heated space during the winter months as well.

Archadeck of Maryland covered porch.

This Maryland covered porch offers easy access to and from the kitchen.

2) How high off the ground should your porch be?  This is something most homeowners don’t consider but is a crucial element when thinking of building your porch. If the space between your porch and the area it is intended to work with are too far away or create an inconvenience to move between areas, then chances are that you will not only regret your configuration but may stop using the room altogether for the purpose which it was initially intended.

Archadeck of Maryland screened porch

This two-story screened porch by Archadeck of Central Maryland and Montgomery County utilizes a large area for dining and a large area for entertaining.

3) How large should your porch be? Deciding what size porch you really need will impact how you use your porch throughout it’s lifetime. You need to figure out how many people are going to be using it and what function they will be using it for. I actually often recommend that my customers build a smaller porch than they were originally intending. Here’s the reason. If you envision having a porch span the entire width of the back of your home, that may be much more space than you need and can even cause the room to lose its cozy appeal.

Think of a home that has a very large room that goes from the front to the back of the home or from one side of the home clear to the other side. Often times these large rectangular rooms are hard to decorate and cause the room to be much less cozy. Now if your intention is for your porch to really serve the purpose of being two distinct rooms, then it might make sense. Let’s say that you want to use one side of your porch as an outdoor dining area and that part of the porch opens up into or very close to the kitchen. Then you may want to use the other side as a living room sort of area and that side opens up into your living area in the home. Then, that’s a really good use of a long rectangular space.

A good all around size for a porch that is designed for one living space is generally a 16×16 or 16×18. If you are still unsure, then measure your home’s living or family room. Do make sure to take into consideration the space needed when the items are pulled out. For example, consider how much space is needed around your table when everyone is sitting back after a large meal. People generally pull their chairs out from the table. Will there still be room and foot room within the structure with the planned furnishings? When making your final decision build for the 90%, not the 10%. Even though you don’t want to build more space than you have, not having enough room is a greater dilemma than having a little too much as you can’t just add a few feet to a porch the way you might be able to do with a deck or patio.

4) Screen anyone? If you are choosing a screened porch, then your screening system and type of screen you choose is very important. If your goal is to really enjoy the view of your back yard, try using a screen system that is as invisible as possible. Here are some situations that may require a stronger screen system. Might your screen come in contact with falling tree branches or limbs, birds, cats, or even hockey sticks? Screen comes in many different types to accommodate your individual needs. Durable screens, such as Super Screen which offers a 10 year warranty is recommended for people with dogs and cats. Privacy screens are also available which are a more opaque screening material and appear almost invisible. You can even use exterior grade shades, like roman shades for example.

Mahogany_screened_porch_Bethesda_MD

This porch in Bethseda, MD shows how beautiful a mahogany floor can be when used on a porch.

5) Flooring options. Your porch’s flooring is front and center so choosing a flooring material that appeals to your eye is important. In most cases, your porch will offer some protection from the elements so you have more flexibility when it comes to your flooring than you would on other outdoor structures, such as your deck. If a natural look of wood is your style, woods such a mahogany and tigerwood are popular to use on porches. Some people use stone and tile, which can be pretty but can also be very problematic. The grouting used in stone and tile will eventually crack with the cold and freezing weather conditions we have here in MD. These materials also are cold to the touch, and that also means to the feet. Another choice is a tongue and groove composite. They are long-lasting, and offer beauty and little maintenance.

Archadeck of Maryland screened porch

This screened porch ceiling was finished with beautiful cedar.

6) Coming out on top? This would be your ceiling material choice. In most scenarios your ceiling material will not become a maintenance issue. Ceiling materials that are popular right  now amongst porches are beadboard, and tongue-and-groove pine or cedar. These all offer a touch of rustic elegance to your structure. Skylights are a viable option in darker landscapes that need additional light in the structure or the home. Skylights can be used on any porch which is well lit, or otherwise. But most homeowners with ample light often don’t choose them because of the additional cost. Velux makes a wonderful Low-E skylight. Skylights can also come with a range of features including rain sensors which will close the skylight, remote controls and even blinds built right into the skylight.

MD_screened_porch_with_outdoor_fireplace

Plenty of lighting and ceiling fans can enhance the enjoyment on your porch.

7) Really think about your lighting and electrical needs. It is important to think about this up front. Most people who build a porch consider it their favorite room and are filled with regret that they didn’t build it years before they did. Remember, it is always better to put in too may electrical outlets, than too little. The cost to add outlets in the building process is minimal. The cost to add outlets after building is complete can be very substantial. Think about having outlets to plug in both floor lamps and table lamps. You will likely want an outlet to charge your phone and other to charge your laptop. You will use other electronics such as your television. Depending on the use of the room, you may even want to plug in a blender for margaritas or other kitchen apparatus as well.

Lighting comes in three different formats- table and floor, fan package, and ceiling fixtures. If you desire lighting in the ceiling, you should go with covering the rafters as opposed to leaving them exposed. With recessed lighting you can hide the wire more easily. You can also easily add insulation if you have a covered rafter.

Open_porch_builder_Maryland_MD

Archadeck of Maryland captures the charm and beauty of a by-gone era in covered porch design

8) Exterior materials. Maintenance free, formal and finished, or rustic and natural? There are lots of exterior material choices available for porches. Many times we trim the exterior using vinyl because aside from minimal cleaning, it is virtually maintenance free. Based on the elevation of your structure you may or may not need railing or a kneewall. Not having a lot of additional areas to cover will cut down on costs and will give you more light and airflow.

9) Welcome! The style of door you choose is extremely important within your structure. We have customers that stick to wood, but they are few. Most of our homeowners use storm doors. Storm doors are light when they have screen in them. Choosing a good quality storm door may or may not be that much more costly than using a wood door. It will give you more protection from the elements and can also be safer from a security perspective because of its strength.

Open_porch_with_gable_roof_Maryland_MD

This gabled roof lends clean design lines in this covered porch by Archadeck of Maryland

10) Style of roof. Gabled roofs are quite popular amongst our porch customers. However if you are building gables, you will need to make sure it works with the windows above. There are other roof styles available that may harmonize better with your residence. If building a detached porch, you may or may not choose to match the structures roof to your home’s roof, many times a different style roof on a detached porch compliments the property better than a matching roof.

John Barrett Archadeck of MarylandArchadeck of Central Maryland and Archadeck of Montgomery County can help you when deciding all the basics of building your porch. We can meet with you and discuss all the options and what will work best for your particular circumstances. This is the fun stuff for us.

Contact us today to help you get started on a structure that will give you and your family much enjoyment for years to come. (301) 926 – 3001 centralmaryland@archadeck.net or montgomeryco@archadeck.net

This Screened Porch and Deck in Potomac, MD Spotlights the Exotic Beauty of IPE

You may be thinking about adding a hardwood deck such as mahogany or tigerwood onto your home. There are a number of fabulous and breathtakingly beautiful hardwoods on the scene. Not only do some of this hardwoods take advantage of the natural beauty of the wood, some of them boast durability as well.

clipped_corners_on_screen_porch_panoramic_view

This photo by Archadeck of Maryland shows the clipped corners for a panoramic view

Archadeck of Maryland turns back the clock a little to focus on a project we did a few years back for a customer in Potomac, MD. We changed out an existing house wall and made it into a beautiful stone wall and then added a 3-walled screened porch with clipped corners for a panoramic view. We used Ipe flooring and a beautiful clean cedar ceiling, just a stunning combination. We also added a small deck off the outside edge of the screened porch, on the far wall the deck is just big enough for a BBQ. We used a pair of french doors as the exit doors, this added an air of refinement to the addition. To add character and whimsy we installed a cupola on the roof as well.

The house was roughly a 1960′s home in the french colonial style and it had a mansard style roof. The home had a family room with a picture room with doors on either side, this is where we removed all of that and installed the wide opening to accommodate the screened porch. Along with the mansard style roof the home had cedar shakes, we matched the roof of the new structure with the same cedar shakes. Even though this was expensive and very maintenance prone over time, it was necessary to keep the structural integrity of the home intact.

This had been the 1st job we had ever finished a ceiling out with clean cedar, we used a satin finish, which looks even more elegant than a high gloss finish. The choice to use Ipe for the flooring was in part for the beauty and the other would be the extreme durability. Ipe is nicknamed “ironwood” by the industry. It is so hard and resilient you need to use titanium drill bits to drill through it. It will not float in fresh water because of its dense nature. In places where water and long-lasting are used in the same sentence such as floating docks and even the Annapolis yacht club, we have seen it used with much success. We have even heard that the New Jersey boardwalk is not made of Ipe because of its quality.

Ipe is a clean wood as well, it has a dark chocolate palette with variations from board to board. Much is the look of the Brazilian hardwoods. All you need to do to keep that dark beautiful finish is seal it. It will turn a silver-gray, the sealing is only to maintain the color, because even if you choose not to seal Ipe it will not degrade .

John Barrett Archadeck of MarylandThis is just one of the many happy customers we have built structures for of hardwood decking. We have many more options, as well as Ipe. Give Archadeck of Maryland a call today to find out more at (301) 926 – 3001 or email us at centralmaryland@archadeck.net.

Rockville MD Screen Porch and Ipe Deck with Floating Benches – Stunning!

Rockville MD custom upscale screened porch builder

Vaulted ceilings and Velux skylights open up this gorgeous bright and airy screened porch in Rockville MD

This beautiful and uniquely designed deck and screened in porch was a real design challenge that paid off big for these homeowners in Rockville, MD. These customers had a home under construction when they contacted us about adding the screened porch and deck to this new home. Their goal was to make sure it harmonized perfectly with the house itself.

The challenge was in the size of the lot the home was built on. This particular lot was in a refined neighborhood which had small building lots. We met with the homeowner while the house was still in its construction phase. We wanted to design a structure that didn’t make the size of the lot even more constricting than it already was and maximize the feel of the living space.

Open Ipe deck with floating benches in Rockville MD

Open Ipe deck with floating benches in Rockville MD

The elevation of the home was such that we decided to lower the main living area. We also decided not to add railing into the design to open up the flow into the back yard. We used Cantilevers over the edge of the deck to pick up space beyond the edge of the deck. The bench was built as a floating bench. This allowed it to serve as a gentle barrier, maximize space, and maximize seating. In addition, the homeowners can also use this as a buffet during cookouts or family get-togethers or use it as a decorative area by placing potted plants or other decorative items on the bench. Another efficient use of the space was the gate under the porch which contains a storage area. We pride ourselves in creating designs that add character to our structures and add efficient usable space in places you least expect. For an elegant touch we used picture framing underneath the bench and also carried on that same elegance by using it under the screened porch.

Octagonal IPE deck and custom-built screen porch in Rockville MD

Octagonal IPE deck and custom-built screen porch in Rockville MD

In order to maintain fluidity of the home’s details, we used the roof tiles on the screened porch to match the house. The homeowners’ intent was to use the screened porch to lounge and relax and wind down from the day. The details and beautiful touches make this screened porch a tranquil oasis. The door is an Anderson storm door which lets in full light and has screen on the door itself. The screened porch has a cathedral ceiling with gorgeous knotty pine. We installed Velux skylights on both sides of the screened porch and it has recessed can lighting throughout. The floor on the screened porch extends out to give color reveal. We even installed a ceiling fan on this screened porch that not only keeps you cool on those warm summer days, it is equipped with a heating element which will keep you warm on those chilly autumn nights. The addition of such a fixture will dramatically extend the time the homeowners can actually enjoy the screened porch.

Custom screen porch sunroom builder Rockville

See the custom details that were added to this custom screened porch

The beautiful design and details do not end when you leave the screened porch. The same careful attention was paid to every detail of the deck too. The octagon in the middle of the porch creates a unique focal point from a design element standpoint and also provides transition. All the decking material used was IPE. We used AZEK for all the exterior trim materials which is maintenance free and also matches the exterior of the house. The deck balusters are Deckorator balusters and we used black-colored balusters to provide a more open look.

John Barrett Archadeck of MarylandNot only will this deck and screened porch give these homeowners years of enjoyment, it is so beautifully designed and built it is a true extension of their already beautiful new home. It has it all- character, craftsmanship, flowing design and beauty all in one place. We can make your backyard a work of art too. We can plan, design and build you the structure of your dreams to enjoy for years to come. Give us a call today to begin your transformation.