Location: Henrico, Virginia
Key Features: 28’x12’ Low Maintenance PVC Deck, Under-Deck Ceiling with 2 fans, 1000 Square feet of Bluestone Patio, Retaining Walls, Sitting Walls, Built-In Stone Bench and a usable lawn area
Biggest Obstacle: Before our transformation, the entire backyard was a hillside that was unusable for any form of enjoyment.
Solution: We cut away at the hillside and used retaining walls to create a level area for the patio. Additionally, we look the excavated dirt and used it to level off more of the hillside for usable lawn area. Along with the 1,000 square feet of patio, our final grade with the excavated dirt provided the client with twice as much usable lawn area as they previously had. Whether used for a game of tag or throwing a ball around, the newly created yard now has multiple purposes.
This client, a family of three, contacted us to create a special place for entertaining family and friends. To start, they wanted to remove their poorly-built deck that was too small and improperly pitched back towards the house. The goal was to double the size of the deck using low-maintenance materials and install a multi-purpose patio that included a weather-proofed portion under the deck.
The original grade of the yard required extensive excavation work and the installation of retaining walls to install the patio. During excavation, the garage foundation became exposed and required a creative solution to provide necessary insulation. The answer was a functional sitting wall that wraps the foundation. This sitting wall now provides bench seating for the dining table and is the client’s favorite feature.
The deck was built using PVC decking from Wolf Home Products and the patio is composed of patterned, variegated bluestone. The sitting walls and pillars are veneered using an irregular bluestone (Colonial Wall Stone) and capped with bluestone treads. With this renovation, we were also able to regrade the slope and make the entire backyard more usable.
The client loves the finished project and uses it for neighborhood outdoor movie nights!
A Cohesive Look
When people look at photos of this deck and patio project, they always compliment us on how well everything goes together. When dealing with natural stone hardscapes, it is not uncommon that materials will clash with one another as well as the house.
Though our designer takes steps to ensure that all our projects have a cohesive look, the secret to this hardscape is pretty simple: everything is bluestone. From the patio pavers to the wall veneer and caps, this entire hardscape is composed of Pennsylvania bluestone. Though each hardscape material has its own distinct look and shape, the cohesive look of this patio space is a result of all the stone being sourced from the same mountains. This hardscape beautifully shows the diversity of bluestone products.
It was also important that the entire hardscape and patio paired seamlessly with the deck and house. To ensure a cohesive look, the patio is composed with Variegated (full range) Bluestone that features beautiful accents of tan, brown and auburn hues. This stone pairs perfectly with the brick foundation and pillars as well as the two-toned PVC deck. The result of this thoughtful pairing of materials is a deck and patio space that is both simply elegant and stunningly complex.
Hiding Exposed Foundation Block
When looking at a house, most people see a foundation composed of attractive brick (and sometimes stone). Unfortunately, this attractive brick typically stops around just below the final grade of the property. To save costs, builders will construct a house foundation out of concrete cinder block and only switch to attractive brick around the point where the final property grade is planned.
Anytime you pull soil away from the foundation of a house, you run the risk of exposing this unattractive cinder block. Heading into this project, we knew that our plan to remove 3-4 feet of dirt would expose A LOT of the ugly cinder block. Because there is no way to accurately predict how much block would be exposed, it was impossible to develop an accurate plan of action until after excavation.
To properly set expectations, we educated the client on this issue before going to contract on this deck and patio project. Once excavation was complete, the decision was made to cover the exposed cinder block with the same stone veneer that was being used for the retaining and sitting walls. Instead of following the frequent step downs in the cinder block, we chose to veneer along consistent heights for a cleaner look. To accurately emulate the wall caps, we installed bluestone trim along the top of the veneered sections.
Exposing more than just the Foundation Block
When excavating 3-4 feet of dirt away from the foundation of a home, there is a chance that you may expose more than just the unattractive foundation cinder block. During this project’s excavation, we uncovered the actual foundation footing for the garage. Upon this discovery, we immediately contacted our building inspector to discuss the proper way to handle the situation.
Though the first inspector saw now issues, another inspector raised red flags later in the project. Because the exposed footing belonged to the garage, an unheated structure, this footing needed 18” of insulation on all sides. Knowing that 18” is standard sitting height, our designer immediately began to develop an idea for insulating the footer using a sitting wall or built-in bench. The plan he developed designated this area of the patio for dining and a built-in stone bench to serve the dual purpose of seating and insulation of the footer. The client, a big fan of bench seating, absolutely loved the plan.
After working with our engineer and the county inspection office to develop buildable specifications, the footer was properly insulated, and stone bench was constructed. In the end, this obstacle resulted in the client’s favorite feature of this deck and patio project.
More Project Details
Deck: PVC Decking from Wolf Home Products, IPE colored boards with 2 course Mahogany colored border, White PVC Railings with Black Pickets
Patio: Variegated Bluestone with a Thermal Finish
Sitting Walls: Colonial Wall Stone (Irregular Bluestone), Bluestone Treads
Plant Combination: This client insisted they had a “brown thumb” and didn’t want any landscaping. Our designer insisted on a couple plants to soften the hardscape and convinced the client on a few ‘Limelight’ Hydrangeas. This fantastic shrub is incredibly low maintenance and looks striking with a traditional bluestone patio.