Project of the Month: December 2022

November 17, 2022 Project of the Month

This home had a large pool in the yard and a very small covered area, but the homeowner was looking to upgrade the entire yard and create their own paradise.

TCP added a new patio cover along the side that includes an outdoor kitchen and fireplace. We upgraded the existing cover as well as added a pergola and firepit.

We added about 1000 square feet of new stamped concrete to the backyard. The new covered outdoor living area is roughly 435 square feet with a high-vaulted ceiling and an open gable on the end and along the front side. The ceiling is English Porter pre-stained tongue and groove from Woodtone. The outdoor kitchen was placed at the end and is also an L-shape to allow plenty of room for the 40” grill, sink, outdoor-rated fridge, and storage. All appliances RCS are from Cunningham Gas, while the counter has a raised bar top for seating on the outside and is Coffee Brown Leather granite from Instyle Granite.

We placed the fireplace along the side to help provide privacy to the yard. It is a custom-built gas fireplace with an insert from Perfection Fireplace, and all of the stone caps are Chiffon Moire Ashlar Natural White from Apex Stone. The fascia of the fireplace, kitchen, and columns are Blanco Chopped from Rock Materials, and the mantle is custom-stained cedar.  On the far side of the pool, we added a gas firepit. All stones and caps match the rest of the project, and the black lava rock to fill it is from Republic Gas Bowls.

To upgrade the existing patio cover, we changed out the ceiling to match the new cover and hung new lighting. To extend their space along the home, a new pergola was added. At roughly 185 square feet, this structure has a Hercules Pergola Cover from Cover Your Pergola to keep everything nice and dry underneath.

This backyard is now truly a place to Live it Out.

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.

How should I heat my patio?

November 3, 2022 Outdoor Living

No matter what time of year it is, you deserve to enjoy your patio. While we’ve previously talked about ways to cool off your patio on hot summer days, what happens when the temperature starts dropping?

Here are a few of our favorite patio heating options:

Fireplace

You can’t beat the classic fireplace. Whether wood or natural gas, it’s hard to deny the crackling, cozy comfort that a fireplace brings. Not only does it help heat up your outdoor living space, but it’s a beautiful addition to your porch that everyone will gravitate around.

Fire Pit

A fire pit is a great way to bring people together while still staying warm. Like fireplaces, fire pits are mostly wood or natural gas-based, but their size and central locations are great for huddling around. If you don’t want to add a permanent pit made of brick or stone to your backyard, you can purchase more portable options, allowing you to store the pit when you’re not using it. 

Patio Heater

Heaters from brands like Bromic and Innova can both be installed under your patio cover, which allows for them to be directly connected to your power source. This way, you won’t have to worry about filling up a propane tank, just enjoying your warm outdoor living space.

If you don’t want to install a permanent heater, portable umbrella heaters have become increasingly popular over the years. Usually running on propane, these heaters can keep your patio warm throughout the winter without taking up too much space. This is the way to go if you’re looking for a non-invasive, portable heater.

Regardless of which heating option you choose, the only other things you’ll need are some chairs, some hot cocoa, and your loved ones, and you’re set for a great winter.

Project of the Month: November 2022

October 28, 2022 Project of the Month

This home already had a wonderful pool in their backyard, but they wanted to add a patio cover with an outdoor kitchen and a small bathroom. The new structure would be off the garage and tie into the breezeway and existing patio cover to create a much larger L-shaped cover. The main challenge with this outdoor project was the tight space they had available to work with because of the existing pool.

The outdoor kitchen was built along the garage wall and includes appliances the homeowner supplied. The unique feature of the kitchen is the countertop pizza oven, which TCP created the custom masonry façade to hold. The stone used on the kitchen facia, vent hood cover and pizza oven façade is Nysa 3-size Z-pattern split face travertine mosaics from QDI Surfaces. The granite is Black Pearl from Daltile.

The flooring is Silver Versailles pattern travertine tiles also from QDI Surfaces. The homeowner was having issues with drainage, so TCP addressed that issue by adding additional drains in the driveway and at the back of the kitchen area.

The ceiling is finished with 1X6 V-groove pre-stained Scottish Ale by Woodtone, and we also upgraded the existing ceiling. TCP installed an electric screen shade in front of the kitchen and on the west end of the patio cover. This helps shade the areas during the late afternoons and early evenings when the sun is setting. Electric heaters were also installed in the seating area of the patio cover. Finally, we converted under-stair storage at the back of the garage into a half-bath with an exterior door.

This backyard is now everything the homeowner had dreamed of. From the open-air patio for dining or sunbathing to the new outdoor kitchen to the upgraded small existing cover, this is truly a backyard to be envious of.

Project of the Month: October

October 18, 2022 Outdoor Living

This home did not have any covered space in their backyard and really needed some shade, giving us a large yard with a blank slate. 

TCP poured approximately 1330SF of new concrete to allow for both a covered and uncovered area. We built a covered space of about 810SF that included three distinct areas – a screened porch, a kitchen area, and just an open-air space.  

The screened-in porch area is a year-round room with screens meant for sun and bug-blocking. In addition, we installed a retractable screen in the opening that leads to the other sections of the outdoor space. A custom-built gas-starting wood fireplace is the room’s focal point, featuring Bromic heaters. The stone is an Austin Cream and Austin Chop White from Republic Stone, and a custom wood mantle was installed as well as a pre-stained tongue and groove wood American Nut Brown ceiling. A large fan was also installed to keep the family cooler in the summertime. 

The custom outdoor kitchen area is roughly 300 SF and has the same ceiling and stone finishes. The gabled roof really opens up the space over the kitchen counter. All appliances are from RCS and include a grill, fridge, door, and drawers, while the counter is granite and has a nice bar top area that wraps around to define the space. There is plenty of room for the dining table to seat eight people comfortably. 

This area is adjoined to an open-air space for the entrance into the home and as a connector to the uncovered patio area also installed. The flooring throughout is a Versailles pattern travertine color Philadelphia from QDI. 

This space is now a backyard oasis with plenty of room to enjoy the outdoors.

The perfect complement to your pool

October 18, 2022 Outdoor Living

If you’re dreaming of a cooler summer next year, now is the time to plan on complementing your pool. Although the differences between a pool house and a cabana may not seem obvious initially, both additions to your patio serve different purposes to make your summers great.

Cabana Basics

Traditionally, cabanas are open structures made for shade and relaxation by the pool. Like a free-standing patio cover, cabanas can provide great backyard views and can be upgraded to feature a bar or an open kitchen. Privacy walls and screens can also be added to add seclusion to your backyard. With the right outdoor furniture and appliances, your cabana can become an outdoor oasis on those hot summer days. 

Pool House Basics

Types of pool houses can vary depending on the amenities, but many pool houses are four-sided structures with plenty of usage outside of the pool. Some pool houses feature bathrooms, showers, and storage for pool equipment and toys. Other options can feature kitchens stacked with appliances like sinks and refrigerators as well as extra bedrooms, effectively turning it into a guest house. With these extra amenities, a pool house is something that can truly be used year-round.

Whether you opt for the pool house or the cabana, both additions can transform your backyard into a summer destination.

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.

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

Our Customers Love Us

We are very happy we chose Texas Custom Patios to build our dream patio/outdoor kitchen. Our project manager, Ryan, really listened to what we wanted and grasped our vision immediately. He was actively involved in the process from start to finish. Every question or concern was addressed immediately. We were part of every decision along the way, and were pleased with the flexibility of the process. Ryan had a positive “can do” attitude that was much appreciated through out. The various work crews were professional and always left the work site as clean as possible at the end of the day. The final product is absolutely breathtaking!

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