Choosing the Best Grill for Your Patio

October 4, 2022 Outdoor Cooking

No matter what time of year, grilling season is always in full swing. There are plenty of grills that fit your outdoor style as well as fuel preferences.

Traditional Propane

The trusty gas grill has taken many forms over the years, but today’s propane-powered grill is more high-tech than ever. For example, many gas grills now use infrared heat to grill food more precisely, retain more juices, and save energy.

Plenty of food can be cooked on a propane grill, including meats, fruits, and vegetables. Another advantage of the gas grill is the ability to cook using direct or indirect heat, which allows even more control over what you’re grilling. 

Where these grills fall short (in the eyes of some) is the lack of a smoky taste that some expect when grilling. However, this could also be viewed as a pro because it lets the food retain its natural flavor. 

We recommend RCS or Fire Magic brand gas grills 

Charcoal Grill

Nothing says backyard barbecue like the tried and true charcoal grill. When many think of grilling or throwing barbecues, this is what first comes to mind. Charcoal grill designs vary dramatically, but this says more about the grill’s versatility than its quality.

The biggest advantage (or disadvantage, depending on your palette) is the smoky taste that comes from the charcoal. For anyone who enjoys the taste, it’s almost impossible to replicate it on any other type of grill. Charcoal grills can also be very portable in size, especially when you don’t have to carry around a propane tank.

Because of the easy, low-tech setup (charcoal, fire, food), charcoal grills can be found at a low price, sometimes going as low as $20. So if you’ve been out of the grilling game for a while and want to brush up your skills before going all-in, or you’ve never grilled before, a charcoal grill can be the perfect start.

Smoker

For an adventurous griller, the smoker might be the way to go. The smoky taste is similar to the charcoal grill, but because it’s cooked in indirect heat, it’s able to retain most of the meat’s juices. The fuel source varies depending on the user, but many use wood pellets or logs to maximize flavor. Some popular types of wood to use when smoking meat are oak, pecan or mesquite.

For the meat to keep its juices, it usually has to be cooked at a lower heat than standard grills, which unfortunately means it’ll be a longer wait. This just means you won’t be able to start smoking a chicken for your patio guests on a whim. But good things come to those who wait, and the taste can’t be found anywhere else.

Smokers vary in size and price, meaning you’re almost guaranteed to find one that fits your dream patio.

Griddle (Flat Top Grill)

If breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day, then the griddle might be the most important part of your patio. The large surface area allows plenty of foods to be evenly cooked at once, which can be great for large families or outdoor events. 

While most people immediately think of breakfast foods like pancakes, eggs, or hashbrowns, griddles are also great for meats and vegetables. Higher-end griddles sold by Blackstone are usually more expensive than the average propane or charcoal grill. Still, the convenience and easy-to-clean surface will pay for itself over time.

Whether it’s gas, charcoal, a smoker, or a griddle, there’s truly a grill for everyone. So when celebrating your first gathering on your new patio, make sure you’re ready to grill.

Project of the Month: September

October 4, 2022 Project of the Month

This home had a small balcony, a covered area, and a large backyard. However, the family needed more outdoor living and desired an outdoor kitchen, fireplace, fire pit, and another smaller patio cover.

To add to the existing space, TCP had to rebuild the side of the balcony so a roof could be added. We removed the railing, and a half wall was built to attach the new covered area for the kitchen. A covered area of about 185 square feet was added to cover the new outdoor kitchen. The kitchen includes RCS appliances – a grill, fridge, storage, and a griddle. The space is faced with Trespa Lumber to match the front of the home, while the granite is River White from MSI International. The bar top island is perfect and can be used for dining or a buffet if needed. A custom lattice privacy wall was constructed to add texture to the space. The new columns are faced with Rockmount Rustic Gold dry stacked stone from MSI International.

TCP created an additional covered area off the side of the home with the same stone columns. In addition, we installed a new door where a window had previously been. This allowed easy access to the space from the inside.

All the ceiling finishes are American Nut Brown pre-stained tongue and groove, and the flooring is Botanica Teak Matte tile from MSI International. A total of 915 square feet of concrete was poured and covered with this beautiful flooring. In addition, a free-standing fire pit was built between the two spaces.

Under the balcony, TCP did a total makeover. Including the ceiling refinish, we also added a gas fireplace using the same stone as the columns. The lattice work privacy wall extended along this section as well.

This backyard went from boring to breathtaking, giving the homeowner a great way to live outdoors.

Your Guide to Patio Stonework

September 23, 2022 Patio Design

When designing a dream patio, the impact of stonework flooring is often overlooked. But, just like with countertops, because of its prominence in your outdoor space, it can easily elevate your patio from good to great. 

There’s plenty of stonework to choose from, which all vary in price, color, and durability. While we mainly install porcelain tiles, travertine, or pavers, here are some common options you’ll see in patios everywhere.

Travertine

It’s hard to go wrong with travertine. Known for its durability and low maintenance, this natural stone will take just about anything you throw at it and not crack under pressure. It also comes in tons of colors and shapes, meaning it fits almost any design you can come up with. Most outdoor granite is textured, which minimizes slipping and makes it great for pools and hot tubs.

It is one of the pricier stonework options, but the benefits easily outweigh the cost.

Bluestone

Primarily found in the northeast, bluestone is the perfect stone to give your patio a natural yet sophisticated feel. Like granite, bluestone is a flat, durable, and slip-resistant stone that can last decades when maintained properly. 

Because bluestone is porous and holds in water, it’s generally recommended to seal bluestone pavers every few years to prevent weathering. This keeps your patio looking brand-new for years to come.


Brick

For a rustic, timeless look to your patio, it’s hard to go wrong with brick. Brick can come in multiple shapes, colors, and textures, allowing it to work in almost any patio design. 

Compared to natural stone, brick is less costly and requires little to no maintenance outside of the occasional sweep or wash. However, similar to bluestone, pavers should be resealed every few years to keep them in top shape. Inexpensive, durable, and versatile, brick does it all.

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tile brings the beauty of marble flooring with even more durability. This strong tile has a rougher finish which prevents slipping when wet, making it perfect around pools. Because it’s tile, this is one of the more cost-effective options while being customizable for any size, style, or shape.

Limestone

Limestone is a versatile and durable stone that fits almost any type of patio design. Although it’s on the pricier side, the stone is generally very durable and can withstand wear and tear while still maintaining its timeless hues. 

Like other natural stones, limestone is porous, meaning it should be sealed every few years to keep it from weathering. However, this maintenance shouldn’t deter from limestone’s classic look.

Flagstone

Flagstone brings a great natural look to your patio while providing unparalleled durability. Because of this durability, little maintenance is needed to keep the stone looking great. 

However, although flagstone can withstand almost any climate, it can become very slippery when wet and very hot during the summer, making it not ideal around pools. But if you’re looking for a natural design you won’t have to worry about, this stone is the way to go.

Stonework can be an essential part of any patio’s design. Because of the many options and factors when deciding which stone to use, there’s truly something for everyone. 

We mainly install porcelain tiles, travertine or pavers.  Or do stamped concrete. 

Finding the Right Countertop for Your Outdoor Kitchen

September 23, 2022 Patio Design

When designing an outdoor kitchen for your patio, there are many factors that go into picking the perfect countertop. Here are some of the most popular surfaces.

Granite

Granite makes for a versatile and durable countertop for all weather conditions. It comes in a multitude of colors and shapes, meaning it can match almost any patio design. It’s also scratch and crack resistant, meaning it can withstand just about anything you throw at it. 

Although it isn’t the most affordable option, granite’s durability and design make it ideal for almost any outdoor kitchen, which is why it’s one of the most popular options.

Wood

It’s hard to beat the rustic yet modern look of a wooden countertop. However, this beauty comes at a price. Wooden countertops often require a large amount of maintenance to keep the surface from splintering, scratching, or staining. This may not be an issue for those willing to sand and polish it every few years, but for those looking for a no-stress countertop, you may want to look elsewhere.

Concrete

While it might not seem like an obvious choice, concrete countertops are a very versatile and reliable option. However, concrete isn’t immune from stains and scratches like any other stone or tile. A downfall is like any concrete, it can break, and small hairline cracks will appear as moisture seeps in and the material expands and contracts.  The concrete look might not fit everyone’s design, but for extreme durability and the opportunity to pour into any shape, concrete is an excellent choice of countertop.

Quartz

Durable, stain-resistant, and inexpensive, quartz is one of the best options for an outdoor countertop. However, quartz doesn’t do the best with direct heat and sunlight, and too much heat or light will cause the countertop to discolor. This makes it ideal to use in a covered patio where it is installed away from the sun.

Despite these flaws, quartz is still a durable and beautiful countertop material that, when treated with care, can last decades.

There are many materials to choose from when designing your dream outdoor kitchen. Make sure to do your research and take factors like durability, level of maintenance, and price into account before you get ready for your future outdoor gatherings.

The Pitfalls of Pergolas

September 20, 2022 Patio Design

Pergolas can be built at any price range, but most pergolas can be a lower-cost addition to your outdoor living space. With the right design and placement, it can transform a plain backyard into a great one. However, these additions may not be an effective long-term solution to your backyard.

Here are the main reasons why pergolas may not be right for you.

Maintenance

Most pergolas you’ll encounter are made out of wood, predominantly oak, cedar, and pine. While this gives the pergola a nice, rustic feel, it also means you’ll be spending quite a bit of time maintaining this look, whether it’s painting, cleaning, or staining. Regardless of which wood you use, it will have a hard time withstanding the elements and it can show its age quickly. Save yourself the splinters and steer clear.

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Durability

Wood, especially pressure-treated wood, doesn’t always stand up to the test of time. Mold and rot can cause the pergola to slowly break down, while the weight of the structure can increase the chance of the structure’s columns warping and bending. Not to mention, like any freestanding structure, pergolas aren’t great at withstanding extreme weather like tornadoes or hurricanes. If you’re looking for a patio fixture that will last a lifetime, pergolas are not the answer.

Insects

The quickest way to have a wooden pergola break down is a termite attack. These little insects are found all over the US and rotting wood is their primary food source. This means if you aren’t constantly maintaining the structure, you could wake up one morning to some serious damage.

(Also, if for some reason you own a pet beaver, it’s probably best to stay away)

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Home Value

Anyone thinking that a quick pergola project will automatically increase their patio’s value may be in for a rude awakening. While some people may be looking for a gathering place on their patio, the pergola’s design isn’t a hit with everyone, especially those who don’t want to deal with the maintenance.

Increases in home value can vary dramatically depending on the pergola’s location, build quality, size, and materials. So if you’re planning on building a pergola as an investment, it might be best to think twice.

Heat

Unfortunately, the grid design of the pergola roof, while visually appealing to some, isn’t doing much to guard you against the sun. Unless you only want to use your pergola early in the morning or late at night, you’re missing a lot of valuable time outside. 

While some may enjoy the design that pergolas bring, the hard truth is that the cons often outweigh the pros in most situations. When you’re designing your patio, it might be worth exploring other options.

Project of the Month: August 2022

September 15, 2022 Project of the Month

The homeowner wanted an outdoor space that complemented their contemporary style home. Their yard is small and has a pool, so TCP was creative in maximizing what could be done for them.

The covered patio is around 240 SF and has a side wall tie-in. The roof is a flat standing, seam metal roof with a steel beam and post. The ceiling is Real tone fine line pre-stained tongue and groove in Smokey Bourbon. This outdoor space is simple with the clean lines the homeowner wanted. The stucco wall at the end provides privacy from the neighbors and the perfect place to mount the TV.

GRILLING STATION

What else is needed? A small grill and counter area are all that’s required to cook up a delicious meal to eat on the patio. The counter area is Ceasarstone from Omni Surfaces, and the grill is RCS.

The decking is 1X6 Azek premium Coastline decking. It has one step down to the yard and has low-voltage step lights. The deck wraps around the pool and along the side of the home.

This space gives the homeowner their own little resort – an outdoor space to sit, relax and enjoy life.

Project of the Month: June 2022

September 14, 2022 Project of the Month

This home already had a beautiful pool and a fully landscaped backyard, but they desired an outdoor living room accenting the space. Knowing this, the back side of the pool became the perfect place to create and build an outdoor living area.

This freestanding pool house is about 375 SF and has an outdoor kitchen, double-sided fireplace, a living area, and a bartop counter for dining. The space also features a gable roof and a vaulted ceiling. We used a stained tongue and groove with cedar beams. The columns are wrapped in Hardie and painted with stone bases that match the kitchen fascia and the fireplace. All of the stone complements the pool coping to make a more cohesive outdoor living space. The flooring is a wide, plank-stamped concrete.

We also installed two large fans to create a nice breeze on those hot summer days. To optimize the backyard space, we built a double-sided fireplace with seating on the backside, great for large gatherings. Along with the custom-built fireplace, we installed Bromic Platinum heaters. A perfect way to keep the outdoors nice and cozy on those chilly days and nights.

This kitchen has an RCS grill, storage area, trash drawer, and an outdoor-rated fridge. The counter is granite and provides plenty of space to prep and serve. Lights were hung over the counter, bringing the perfect decorative touch to the outdoor space.

Four ways to get your patio brick looking new again

September 2, 2022 Patio Design

Texas weather tearing away at your patio brick? Are weeds popping through your pathway? Here are some of the best ways to make sure your patio brick stays in tip-top shape year-round

Get to sweeping

Before doing any sort of brick cleaning, it’s important to lay some groundwork (no pun intended). It’s best to sweep any excess dirt, dust, bugs, or broken brick off of the surface you’re trying to clean. That way, you’ll be able to get to the bottom of what you’re trying to clean

Now you’re washing with power

Power washing is a great way to get in between cracks and clean most of the service-layer grit and grime on your brick. If you don’t have a pressure washer lying around, many hardware stores offer rentals. Just be careful to not use a pressure washer with too high PSI, as you’ll risk cracking or breaking the brick.

Get those stains out

If you’ve had brick for a long time, there’s a decent chance you’ve accidentally left a stain or two. Not to worry, there are plenty of simple ways to get it out. Many stains can be removed with soap and water (and a fair amount of elbow grease), but for tougher stains, a mixture of bleach, water, and scrubbing can get it looking brand new again.

Sand goes a long way

If weeds and insects are getting in between your brick, polymeric sand will do the trick. Getting into the cracks and quickly forming a polymer bond that won’t let anything through, polymeric sand can be a lifesaver for patio brick maintenance. 

Using any combination of these brick treatments, not only are you going to have a great looking patio, but you’ll also keep your brick healthy for years to come.

How to Make Your Outdoor Space Ready for Entertaining

August 17, 2022 Outdoor Cooking

So you like having people over but your backyard isn’t quite ready for outdoor entertaining. Not to worry, there are many ways you can make your outdoor space perfect for company.

Start with simple changes. Then, over time, bigger improvements can give you the entertaining space of your dreams.

A simple setup for outdoor entertaining

The first easy change you can make is to add patio furniture and decor to make your guests feel welcome. This could be as basic as a few chairs so everyone is comfortable or adding an outdoor dining set. Even loungers give family and friends a place to relax with a beverage and some good conversation. Add some potted plants for a bit of nature, and sprinkle in some pillows and throws to make the space more inviting.

Add some shade

Now that your guests have places to sit, it’s time to make them even more comfortable by adding shade. This way your outdoor space is usable all year and you don’t have to fear the summer heat. Retractable screens do a great job of blocking east and west light at different times of the day. (Note: we can only add retractable screens to patios we have custom-built).

For full shade, go with a patio cover to make sure everyone is cool and covered at all times. You could even add outdoor fans for extra comfort.

Lighten up the place

A little lighting can go a long way. It doesn’t just help your guests see at night, it can also set a relaxing mood. There are different kinds of lighting that can step up the look and usability of your patio.
Decorative lights– string lights, candles, torches, lanterns, and table lights are a quick, DIY way to bring in some brightness
Landscape lighting– sconces, well lights, solar lights, and permanent lighting around your yard, house, and fence make sure your outdoor space is always ready for company
Security lighting– make sure your guests are safe when they walk around with path and step lighting so they don’t trip on anything

Fire pit with Adirondack chairs around it

Gather around the fire for outdoor entertaining

Fireplaces and firepits are both fun for people to sit around and warm up on a chilly night.

Fire pits can become the epicenter of your outdoor gathering space and be used to make smores in the summer. They can be built in a specific spot or there are portable pits that you can move around the yard.

Another option is to build a permanent outdoor fireplace. This can be a traditional wood-burning fireplace or a gas powered option that turns on with a remote. Both will help make the patio usable year round and they are great focal points to ground your outdoor space.

Outdoor kitchen with grill and stainless steel mini-fridge

Bring the kitchen outside

Dinner parties are the cornerstone of great entertaining. Every get-together needs good food and drinks and there’s no better way to serve your guests than to prepare the meal right outside. Building an outdoor kitchen makes it even easier. You can serve the meal hot and fresh from a built-in gas or charcoal grill or even a pizza oven. Plus, everyone can help themselves to a cold drink or a glass of wine right from the fridge. No going in and out of the house and missing all the fun.

Make a big splash with a pool

The ultimate in outdoor entertaining is a swimming pool. It makes your house the number one destination in the summer, keeping guests cool and kids entertained.

If you don’t currently have a pool, we can discuss options for a water feature to your outdoor space. And if you already have one, we can build you a cabana or even a pool house to take your space to the next level.

When you’re ready for outdoor entertaining, give one of our outdoor living specialists a call at 281-265-1994 in Houston or 972-915-2727 in Dallas/Fort Worth.

What is Transitional Style?

August 5, 2022 Patio Design

Many customers start the process of building an outdoor space without knowing their design style. There are many steps you can take to determine what you’re drawn to which will help us design your space, including checking out our blog on several of the different design styles. But, there is one style that we see our customers leaning towards the most often. It’s called transitional. Because it’s a blend of modern and traditional styles, it can make your space look classic while also feeling current.

Transitional Style Basics

This versatile style has wide appeal because it marries traditional and contemporary furniture, finishes, materials, and fabrics for a timeless look. The modern right angles and crisp lines are balanced with rounded traditional silhouettes and comfortable furniture so it’s neither too edgy or too stuffy.

Some key attributes of transitional style include:

  • A neutral palette
  • Patterns and texture
  • Symmetry
  • Wood accents
  • Concrete/solid colors (not tile)
  • Modern lighting
  • Clean roof lines and colors
  • Comfortable seating

Your Backyard Getaway

Many fans of transitional style feel like it gives their home a “resort” feel, like they are getting away in their own home. However, this doesn’t mean it has an exotic look or a European style, just more clean and relaxing. Transitional often blends well with your current home but takes it up a notch, which our customers love and is one of our specialties. It’s a great way to update an out-of-date house and bring in serious style without looking like it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the home.

Transitional Style Examples

Contact Us

Take a look at some of our transitional outdoor designs and give us a call at 281-265-1994 in Houston or 972-915-2727 in Dallas/Fort Worth so we can help you bring your relaxing, transitional escape to life.

Have a project in mind? We work throughout the Houston and Dallas - Fort Worth areas.

Our Customers Love Us

I totally love our transformed backyard, which faces west and is consequently quite hot in the summer; the table umbrella just didn’t do much. Now we have a better patio, much more sophisticated looking and professionally done to match the existing house so it looks like it was always there. Great job!

© 2022 TCP Custom Outdoor Living