5 Ways to Build a Better Outdoor Living Space in Orange County, CA

Your outdoor space can either add beauty to your home and bring people together, or simply be an area of burden and upkeep. If you’re keen to building the former, there are many creative ideas that can help make your outdoor living space a more pleasant and enjoyable atmosphere, and without spending a fortune. Below we share five of those ideas to help you create a better outdoor living space.

 

Outdoor BBQ Built in North Orange County, CA

 

Outdoor patios are the perfect gathering space positioned just outside your home. Not only can patios be built using a wide variety of materials, ranging from wood to stone brick pavers, but patios can also help make your house appear bigger than it actually is. They offer many uses ranging from relaxation areas to hosting spaces. If you add the right furniture to the patio, you can create a second living room that caters to hosting gatherings, parties, and even outdoor picnics.

Outdoor Fireplaces & Fire Pits

Like indoor fireplaces, outdoor fireplaces and fire pits come available in different varieties ranging from gas to wood fired and coral limestone to bonfire pit designs. You can choose either style depending on the type of your house and the type of fuel you prefer. For those with large patio spaces, outdoor fireplaces add a layer of elegance and inviting warmth. Fire pits, however, are typically better for backyards and open spaces that call the homestead to join around the fire.

 

3D Design of Outdoor Living Space in North Orange County, CA

 

Other than adding beauty, outdoor fire pits and fireplaces are great at keeping you warm when it gets chilly. Not only do such improvements inspire conversations and gathers, but you can keep your guests warm when sitting on the patio. In addition, you can choose a multipurpose fireplace such as one that doubles as a grill to get more functionalities and add value to your investment. Or for something simple, consider outdoor fire pit kits that can be easily built and enjoyed in the same day.

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Outdoor Space Remodels in Orange County, CA

Outdoor Kitchen Trends in Orange County, CA

Just as the kitchen has always been the heart of the home, the outdoor kitchen is quickly becoming the heart of the backyard outdoor living space.  According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), more than 75 percent of all U.S. households currently include an outdoor grill or smoker. However, that’s only part of the story. More and more homeowners are converting patio grilling areas into fully functioning outdoor kitchens that become the central gathering place for family and guests. Check out some of the latest trends.

Bar-style Seating

Bar-style seating has become very popular in outdoor kitchen design for the same reason it’s popular in indoor kitchen design…it creates a communal atmosphere where family members and guests can all interact during the prep and cooking process. It also provides additional dining space, and with the addition of a television, becomes the perfect spot for outdoor tailgating.

Outdoor Kitchen with Bar-style Seating
Kitchen: Weston Stone® Bar Foot Rail: Bullnose Coping.  Pavers: Bergerac® with Old York™ border.

Multiple Cooking Surfaces

Today’s outdoor chef isn’t happy with just a standard grill. Modern outdoor kitchen design quite often includes multiple cooking surfaces — including gas burners, gas or charcoal grills, ceramic smokers,  and wood-burning or gas ovens.

Outdoor Kitchen with Multiple Surfaces
Kitchen: Tandem® Modular Grid.  PaversLafitt® Rustic Slab.

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Outdoor Fireplace Design Ideas in Orange County, CA

Over the last decade, outdoor fireplaces have continued to be a rising trend in outdoor living design. A fireplace provides an elegant focal point that visually transforms a patio into an outdoor living room, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. When planning an outdoor fireplace, there are a number of options to consider.

Custom-Build versus Modular Fireplace Units

Custom outdoor fireplaces can be built using a variety of masonry products, including nearly any Belgard retaining wall product. The benefit to a custom-built fireplace is that you have the design flexibility to create any size or style that suits you. Belgard also offers the Belgard Elements™ line of modular fireplaces that are pre-built in a factory setting, shipped in sections and installed with a pallet loader. The benefits are lower installation costs and a shorter construction window.

Stone Fireplace Design Ideas
This custom-built fireplace, constructed with Celtik® Wall, features a raised hearth, symmetrical arched built-in wood boxes, and built-in low-voltage lighting for ambiance. A row of smooth-face block adds a contrasting element to the rough-hewn look of the design.
Belgard Elements™ fireplaces, such as this one from the Bristol™ Series, offer a custom-built look for a fraction of the cost. Custom-built elements, such as the landscape wall and water features in this design, can be added to enhance the custom-built look.

Use Interior Fireplace Design Principles

To enhance the “outdoor living room” feel, employ interior design techniques when designing your outdoor fireplace and surrounding patio. Examples include accessorizing the room or creating a faux rug in the paver design.

Outdoor Fireplace Design Principals
A semi-circular design of Mega-Arbel® pavers creates the look of an inlaid rug in front of this Brighton™ Elements fireplace and Bristol™ Elements wood boxes.

Research Local Building Codes

Codes will vary by municipality, but in general terms, gas-burning fireplaces have fewer restrictions and can typically be placed anywhere in a design, including directly against another structure. Wood-burning fireplaces typically need to be placed at least 10 feet from another structure. Some building codes require additional safety measures or restrict the use of wood-burning units altogether.

Outdoor Fireplace Design Elements
The chimney of this wood-burning fireplace from the Bordeaux™ Elements collection was extended upward to comply with local building codes, due to its proximity to another structure.

Built-in Outdoor Gas Fireplaces

An economical option that can typically be installed anywhere is a built-in gas fireplace, which can be built on the exterior of the home, on a porch or under a pavilion.

Rustic Fireplace Design
The built-in outdoor gas fireplace on the left was designed to emulate the look of an indoor fireplace using Tandem® Modular Grid. The same wall product was used to build out an adjacent outdoor kitchen. The design on the right used Weston Stone® retaining wall block with accents of Urbana® Stone and Mega-Arbel® pavers to emulate the look of a freestanding Bristol™ Elements fireplace. The same paver and wall products were used throughout the design to tie the look together.

Think Outside the Box

When creating a custom build, consider how you want to use the space and work with your contractor to come with with creative solutions and ideas.

Custom Outdoor Fireplace Design
This custom fire feature is both a fireplace and a brick oven. A built-in overhead light adds a dramatic look to the piece while providing ample light for operating the brick oven in the evenings.
Outdoor Kitchen Counter Design Brick Pavers
This outdoor living room incorporates dual open-sided European-style gas fireplaces, constructed using Tandem® Wall. The same wall product was used to build seat walls around the perimeter of the patio, as well as columns for the pavilion, tying all of the outdoor rooms together into one cohesive design.

Consider Built-in Seating

Built-in seating is one of the leading trends in outdoor design and makes an excellent addition to an outdoor fireplace, adding both form and function to an outdoor room.

Outdoor Fireplace Design Built-in Seating Arrangement
This custom natural stone fireplace is flanked with two seat walls, constructed with Celtik® Wall. The rough-hewn face of the Celtik® Wall adds a textural element to this eclectic design.

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This post was originally written and published on Belgard.com

Backyard Ideas in Orange County, CA

Tips for Planning a Pool Installation in Orange County, CA

Don’t let the frigid temperatures across the country fool you! If you’re planning to install a pool and want it to be ready in time for that first day of swimming season, it’s time to start the planning process. Planning and installing a pool can take a considerable amount of time, and there are a lot of different aspects to consider. Here are a few tips to get you started.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Do some research on the different types of pools and the pros and cons of each. Keep in mind that the specific pros and can often depend upon your location and the local environment. In-ground pools can be made with different materials including fiberglass, concrete (gunite) and vinyl. There are also different types of filtration and cleaning systems. It helps if you’ve done a little research before you start talking to contractors, so you can speak the same language and make a more informed decision.

TALK IT UP

Put the word out with friends and family that you are planning to install a pool and are looking for advice. Anyone who has ever owned a pool will help you navigate the waters in ways you would never have expected. Learn from the mistakes of others and pay particular attention to sentences that begin with, “I wish I had thought to….”

GET INSPIRED

Browse through inspirational photos of pools to get ideas on shapes, colors, trim accessories, pool deck materials and various other design elements. Keep in mind that although standard concrete decking may be a more economical option in terms of the initial construction costs, it may not be the most economical choice in the long run. Concrete slabs will crack as they settle, and concrete coatings will crack and chip off over time. Pavers, however, will last the life of your pool. For inspirational ideas of paver pool decks, visit the Belgard Pool Deck Ideas Pinterest board.

GET MULTIPLE QUOTES & REFERENCES

A good rule of thumb is to get three quotes from contractors who come highly recommended. Check out their references and ask if you can see photos and possibly visit the sites of pools they have built. Don’t be afraid to talk to their former clients and ask tough questions, like “What were the best and worst things about working with this contractor?” Also, realize that it’s not always the wisest to go with the lowest quote. Sometimes, you do indeed get what you pay for. That fact will likely become evident once you start checking references.

PRIORITIZE YOUR “MUST HAVES”

After the initial design is planned and quoted, you’ll more than likely think of new elements you want to add on to the plan, so factor about 5-10% of contingency into your budget. Upgrades will add up quickly, so prioritize in terms of what you will get the most use out of, what you will most regret not doing, and what is harder to change or add at a later date.

 

This post was originally written and published on Belgard.com

Paver Sealant: To Seal or Not to Seal

Paver sealant is an important maintenance tool to keep paver patios, walkways, driveways and pool decks looking as beautiful as they day they were installed.  However, “too much of a good thing” can come into play, and you should be wary of over-applying paver sealer by reapplying too often, which could create a haze. This week’s blog offers tips for knowing when it’s time to seal and how to best achieve the desired look.

Should all concrete pavers be sealed?

Yes. Concrete is porous and will absorb stains if not sealed. Sealants can also protect paver color from fading.

Do all paver sealant brands offer the same basic protection?

There are definitely some poor products on the market. Don’t trust the fact that you bought it at a big box store or that it’s a high-profile brand. Just because a brand is good at one product category (like paint) doesn’t mean they are the best in another. Belgard recommends Techniseal® sealants. When it comes paver sealant, Techniseal® is a pioneer in the industry has a robust R&D department, resulting in effective and durable products specifically created for paver installation and maintenance.

Is any one paver sealant finish more protective than another?

There are basically two types of paver sealants: film-forming (gloss or semi-gloss finish) and non-film-forming (matte finish). Film-forming sealants, such as Wet Look and Clear Look, offer the ultimate protection because they create a physical barrier on the paver surface. However non-film-forming sealants, Natural Look and Color Boost, still offer excellent protection and last a bit longer.

Techniseal Concrete Paver Sealer

How long should new pavers cure before they are sealed for the first time?

If using a non-film-forming paver sealant, wait one week before sealing. If using a film-forming sealant, wait 30 days to avoid trapping moisture under the protective barrier.

Is there a prep process before applying paver sealant?

Even new pavers should be cleaned with Techniseal® Paver Prep prior to sealing. Not only will it clean the pavers, but it will open the pores on the surface to allow better penetration of the sealant. Older pavers will also benefit, as Paver Prep will remove any efflorescence (or whitish salt buildup) that has accumulated. Any stains should be removed prior to applying Paver Prep, using the specific stain remover for the type of stain. For more information, read last week’s blog on paver stain removal.

How long should pavers dry after being cleaned and prepped?

The answer depends on your climate. In warm, sunny climates, the pavers will be dry and ready to seal in a few hours. In cooler climates or shady areas, it’s best to wait about 24 hours.

What are the ideal weather conditions for sealing?

Ideal conditions would be 75 degrees and sunny; however, anywhere between 50-90 degrees is generally fine. Take note that solvent-based sealants evaporate faster, so lower temperatures are better for application.

How often should paver sealer be reapplied?

The basic rule of thumb is every 3-5 years. For film-forming sealants, you will be able to notice when the physical barrier is showing signs of wear. For non-film-forming sealants, you will begin to see a significant color change of pavers during a rain when the sealant is wearing thin. Keep in mind that in cases of a really heavy rain, even well-sealed pavers may darken for a couple of days until the water fully evaporates, which is not an indication of sealant failure.

PAVER SEALANT APPLICATION TIPS:

  • Like with painting, it’s best to keep a wet edge on a continuous area. In other words, don’t let a section dry before you finish. Once you start working, keep working.
  • An application sprayer (available at any hardware store) makes it easier to work faster.
  • Apply paver sealant to saturation. Get the pavers good and wet to make sure all crevices are covered. Then use a dry roller to soak up the excess to avoid lines and drip marks.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Visit Techniseal’s website for more DIY paver sealant application tips. When in doubt, hire a professional.

 

This post was originally written and published on Belgard.com

Introducing New Agilina™ Plank Pavers: Available in Orange County, CA

Agilina Plank Paver

There’s a reason why plank pavers are trendier than ever before. Inspired by the clean lines of modern design trends, new Agilina™ Plank is a marriage of old-world aesthetics and contemporary lines. With the beautifully textured face of natural cut stone, Agilina™ Plank pavers are available in multiple size formats to create numerous looks and patterns for stylish outdoor living designs. Varied widths and lengths allow for multiple running bond patterns to create either a random or more stylized look, depending upon preference. Agilina™ Plank also works well as a border for mixed paver designs, and when using the longer planks, requires fewer cuts.

Applications of Agilina™ Plank Pavers

All sizes of Agilina™ Plank pavers work well for contemporary paver patios, walkways or pool decks.

Agilina Plank Paver Patio

The three-piece 60mm-profile system can also overlay existing concrete with the help of DriBond™ advanced mudset to transform existing living outdoor spaces.

Agilina™ Plank is also available in 80mm profile, which is capable of supporting light vehicular loads for creating stylish paver driveways. When overlaying a sound concrete base, the 60mm profile can also be used for residential vehicular applications.

Agilina Plank Paver Driver

Areas of Distribution

Agilina™ Plank pavers are currently available throughout the Midwest, Northeast and Southern regions and will be launched in other markets throughout the year.

 

This post was originally written and published on Belgard.com

2018 Landscape Architect Survey Results on Outdoor Living Design Trends in Orange County, CA

Belgard Outdoor Backyard Design Infographic ASLA Survey

 

This post was originally written and published on Belgard.com