Patios and Sunrooms: Which Addition Fits Your Backyard Best?

December 16, 2022 Patio Design

If you’re looking to add some outdoor living space to your home, patios and sunrooms both provide a great escape from everyday life. However, there are a few key differences between the two that should be considered before making a decision.

First, let’s talk about patios. A patio is typically a flat, open space that is attached to the back of your home. It’s often made of concrete or pavers and can be customized with furniture, plants, and other decorations to create a comfortable outdoor living space. However, in areas with harsher weather, you may need to invest in a covered patio to ensure you’re not exposed to the elements. 

In contrast, a sunroom is a fully enclosed space that is attached to the back of your home. It’s typically made of glass or other transparent materials, which allows plenty of natural light to come in and provides a great view of the outdoors. Sunrooms are a great option for homeowners who want to be able to enjoy the outdoors without being exposed to the elements. However, being enclosed does mean that sunrooms may get hotter in the summer compared to a patio, so make sure you’ve got plenty of fans and air conditioning to keep cool.

No matter which option you choose, a patio or sunroom can be a great addition to your home and provide a great space to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Both options will leave you with an outdoor living space unlike any other, and one you can truly make your own.

How Do You Choose Between Free-Standing or Attached Patios?

November 3, 2022 Outdoor Living, Patio Design

Picking between an attached and free-standing patio may be confusing at first, but both can serve different purposes for your backyard depending on your usage and the space you have.

Attached Patios

Attached patios, as the name suggests, are outdoor living spaces connected to the back of your house. There are plenty of factors to consider when designing your attached patio, including your price range and usage. Because of its close proximity to your home, attached patios are easier and are typically less expensive to run water, gas, and electric lines to appliances like sinks and grills. Other things to consider when choosing an attached patio are the roof lines and elevation of your backyard, as well as windows on the back of your home that may need to be worked around.

While it may seem like the easier option to have an attached patio, there are some circumstances where that may not be possible. Previously installed pools and uneven terrain may only leave room for a free-standing patio. Multiple roof heights and breezeway placement are also factors that may prevent an attached patio.

Free-Standing Patios

Free-standing patios are outdoor living spaces that provide an outdoor retreat just a few steps out of your backdoor. These are also commonly known as pool houses or cabanas, which we’ve previously discussed. Being in the middle of your backyard, most of these structures are shaded to keep you and your guests away from the heat. Both spaces can be fitted with a privacy wall, but you might find it more beneficial with a free-standing patio, depending on its location. However, being far away from the house means that adding water, gas, and electric lines can be more difficult. 

Regardless if your backyard has a free-standing or attached patio, both provide shade and great areas to spend time outdoors. The decision between one or the other all depends on the layout of your home and the configuration of your backyard. No matter which outdoor living space suits your home, we’re more than happy to help you achieve your patio dreams.

The patio-deck debate

October 17, 2022 Patio Design

When researching ideas to plan your dream backyard, the various terms being used can be confusing at first. Although deck and patio may seem like interchangeable terms, the reality is they describe two different styles of outdoor living space.

Decks are usually flat, raised porches connected to the back of your house. Decks are better for pier and beam homes or if there’s an elevation in the backyard where a deck would be more sensible than pouring concrete. The most commonly used material for a deck is wood, giving the backyard a rustic, cozy feel that is perfect for those who want to enjoy the outdoors. If your deck’s dropoff is larger than 18 inches, railing will be required, but built-in benches around the perimeter can allow for more seating as well as provide a barrier for the space.

Because of the extra materials that go into raising the deck, they’re usually more expensive than patios. On the other hand, having a raised deck allows you to customize the layout more without worrying about uneven ground or elevated homes and can also be matched with a covered roof for maximum shade. The downside of a wooden deck is the durability and upkeep needed to make wood look good year-over-year, but with the proper treatment, wooden decks are a great addition to your backyard.

If you don’t want to deal with the maintenance of real wood, composite decking is a pricier option that will last longer in the long run. Most composite decks have a warranty for 20-25 years, compared to wooden decks that begin to wear down after roughly 10 years.

Patios generally lie flat on the ground and are made of brick, stone, or concrete. These materials may need some upkeep, but the durability of these stones usually means minimal maintenance. Concrete flooring can be broom brushed like a sidewalk you’d see in your front yard, or stamped or stained to add to the look and feel of your space.

Where patios shine is their easier ability to expand in the future and their lower price when compared to raised decks. If a yard is sloped and needs to be evened out with the patio, or if you want a privacy wall to create more seclusion, prices can increase. They may also be more practical for those with pools or those thinking about adding a pool in the future. These patios can also be paired with a covered roof, making them great year-round,

Whether you choose a deck or a patio, both are great additions to your backyard that can entertain for years to come.

How Long Does it Take to Build a Custom Outdoor Space?

October 12, 2022 Patio Design

One of the first things most people want to know is how soon will they be lounging on their new patio. There are many factors involved from permits to availability of materials to weather that can impact timing. The guide below was created to give you a ballpark idea of when you can expect your beautiful new TCP Custom Outdoor Living space to be ready.

First, determine when you’d like to have your project completed. Then, see what month you’ll need to contact our office to get started.

Want it around this time?Call us by:
January/February for New Year’s Day, the Super Bowl, or Valentine’s DayJune or July
March/April for March Madness, Spring Break, Easter, or PassoverAugust or September
May/June for Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Graduation, Father’s Day, or summer weddingsOctober or November
July/August for Independence Day, end of summer, or back to schoolJanuary or February
September/October for Labor Day, football season, World Series, or HalloweenMarch or April
November/December for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, winter holidays, or New Year’s EveMay or June

How do we determine these timelines? Of course there’s the building phase, where we are actually working at the house, but there’s also a lot of down time to take into account for design and planning. Here’s a good idea of how long each phase of the building process takes:

  • Design – Contract: 4 Months
    • From Initial Call to Meeting: 2 weeks
    • Designing: 2 weeks 
    • Approvals: 8 weeks
    • Permits: 2 months
  • Build: 3-4 Months
  • Total: 6-8 months

When you call our office, we’ll schedule an initial consultation. After the initial visit, if it is determined we can create a project that is in your budget range, we’ll follow up with a proposal. Once you’ve selected us as your outdoor design/builder and signed a contract, we’ll begin the permitting and HOA process. This can take up to two months depending on the rules of your community. When the design has met all requirements, construction begins.

Watch this video to discover more about our process. More questions? Give one of our outdoor-living specialists a call at 281-265-1994 in Houston or 972-915-2727 in Dallas/Fort Worth.

What to consider before calling TCP

October 12, 2022 Patio Design

You’ve deliberated and deliberated. “Should I do it?” “Is the time right?” “Will it be worth it?” After giving it some thought, you’ve finally decided it’s time to take the next step and start building your dream patio. 

What is that next step? Before you give us a call, there are a few things you should consider.

Price

What will the budget look like for this project? When you work with us, we’ll be able to give you an estimate of how much the project will cost, but it helps to go in with an idea beforehand. Take a look at our article where we talk about patio pricing.

Use

How will your outdoor living space be used? Is it a place for gatherings and parties? Is it a relaxing getaway for you and your loved one? Is it a perfect paradise for your pool? Once you’re able to answer this question, we’ll be able to give you ideas on how to accomplish this goal.

Weather

How hot does it get around your area? If the answer is “extremely hot,” it might be worth ensuring your patio has shade. Water features can also help you cool off, but nothing beats staying in the shade.

Materials

There are many types of stonework and patio materials to choose from. From brick to tile to sandstone, nailing down the style you want to see in your dream patio can help us make that dream happen.

Appliances

If you choose to build an outdoor kitchen, it’s worth thinking about what you’ll be using it for. Will it be predominantly for gameday parties and gatherings? Check out our blog on types of grills. Are you looking for an elegant-looking sink that is stylish and functional? Check out our blog on types of sinks.

Solving some of these questions before giving us a call will ensure your patio vision can be executed to the best of our abilities.

Differences between chlorine and saltwater pools

October 7, 2022 Patio Design

Yankees vs. Red Sox, Nike vs. Adidas, McDonald’s vs. Burger King. For decades, these great rivalries have shaped popular culture. But one of the biggest rivalries can be found in your own backyard.

The debate between saltwater and chlorine swimming pools is a long and complicated one. Both methods of sanitizing have their pros and cons depending on a number of factors, but if you’re debating on one to pick, here’s what you should know.

SALTWATER

Nothing feels quite as good as jumping into a saltwater pool. With softer, more natural water compared to the more chemically treated chlorine, it’s no secret that saltwater pools are better for your skin, hair, and eyes. It’s also generally easier and safer to store salt over chlorine, and it requires less maintenance on a day-to-day basis.

Despite seeming like the opposite of chlorine, saltwater pools actually use chlorine to keep your pool clean. Rather than using tablets or chemicals to treat the water, saltwater pools use a salt-chlorine generator to turn the salt in the water into chlorine. It sounds much more complicated than it actually is, and it usually just takes adding salt to the pool and letting the generator do the work for you.

Why isn’t saltwater the overwhelming favorite then? Well, these benefits come at a price. Saltwater pools are generally more expensive to start but become less expensive to maintain over time, which is the inverse of chlorine. You’ll also want to test the pH of the pool at least once a week using testing strips or electronic meters to ensure the water is being sanitized properly. Saltwater is also corrosive, meaning it can slowly eat away at lighting and surfaces

Also, you might be worried about the taste of a saltwater pool, thinking that it’s similar to the ocean. Luckily, saltwater pools have roughly one tenth the saline of the ocean, meaning you won’t even taste a thing. 

CHLORINE

When many think of backyard swimming, they’re usually thinking of chlorine pools. The distinct chlorine smell that many have a love/hate relationship with is as synonymous with summer as grilling and fireworks.

It’s hard to beat the guaranteed cleanliness that chlorine brings. It’s easier and cheaper to install, and because it’s so popular, you’ll always be able to find someone to fix it in case of a major malfunction. It’s also easy to maintain specific chemical levels and won’t corrode surfaces the way saltwater can. 

However, chlorine has its own drawbacks. As mentioned earlier, not everyone is a huge fan of the smell and irritation it can leave on your skin, hair, and eyes. They also need to be shock treated often in order to maintain correct chlorine levels and prevent the production of chloramines, which is the chemical that leads to skin irritation, allergy, or asthma symptoms some feel after swimming.

(Also, if you have bleached or dyed blonde hair, it might be best to skip the chlorine unless you’re going for a lovely shade of green.)

If you’re willing to spend the money upfront, saltwater might be your choice. If you’re worried about maintenance and correctly cleaning the pool, chlorine might be the way to go. Regardless of which method you choose, your pool will be the place to be for many summers to come.

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.

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.

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

Our Customers Love Us

Texas Custom Patios were a great pleasure to work with on our outdoor addition. They listened intently to what we wanted to create, and gave expert advise on how to make it work. The workers were extremely professional and very clean. The workmanship was superior and the quality of products used was the best. Almost a year after completion they are still in contact and making sure we are still pleased with their work. I could not imagine not using them for a project.

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