Design choices that work with Canadian climes add longevity and value to a deck renovation.
Photography by The Love Studio
Comfort, elegance and living space make a deck one of the best home improvement investments you can make. Extending the living space to the great outdoors is a treat for most urban-dwelling Canadians, who value even the smallest of balconies or decks. While embarking on a first-floor renovation for a Newmarket home, the scope of work quickly encompassed a new and expanded back deck. Situated on two picturesque acres, the backyard was a welcome retreat. Rabbits, squirrels, fox, birds and butterflies all make their home in this backyard, which provides a lively theatre for the owners and guests. In fact, on my first visit to meet the homeowners, a fox trotted across the backyard with a rabbit in its jaws!
The shape of the deck was created to work with the topography and views of the natural landscape while mirroring the symmetrical architecture of the home. Working with the exterior siding and brick colours of the home, two decking colours were chosen from Moisture Shield’s collection: one for the field (Cape Cod) and one for the border and accents (Bridle). A deck plan was created that provided four distinct zones that included dining/cooking, conversation, soaking, and relaxation. The borders of the decking were used to emphasize the zones.
Building a deck in the Canadian cold is not the most ideal situation. We selected Wintermix concrete from Innocon for the posts. Weathermix was developed by Innocon to address the specific needs of the Canadian construction industry— namely, the challenges faced when pouring concrete in cold weather. The rate of hydration is considerably shortened in cold weather, increasing the set time and seriously delaying construction projects. The specific formulation of Weathermix concrete mixes increase set times in temperatures as cold as 7C to make winter concrete a real possibility.
Embarking on the design challenge to replace an aging pressure-treated deck, we decided to consider composite decking. After evaluating several types of composite decking, we were most impressed with the sustainability initiatives of Moisture Shield. Made from 95 per cent total recycled content, Moisture Shield decking is made from recycled grocery bags, detergent bottles, mill waste and wasted pallets and construction debris. No new trees are cut down for Moisture Shield decking. As an added bonus, this decking can be installed with water contact (near water, in water and underwater)—making it an ideal choice for our Canadian winters or as a dock material for the cottage or lakehouse. The final selling feature is a lifetime warranty, which is unparalleled in the decking industry. Most importantly, it is maintenance-free.
In addition to the deck posts, formwork was built and a concrete pad was poured for the hot tub. It was sized to boost the hot tub to rise just above the deck without obstructing the view to the landscape. For the hot tub, we selected the Vantage model from Coast Spas. Coast Spas offer a steel-reinforced Owens Corning fiberglass shell, wrapped around a Canadian-made wooden frame. If the spa’s temperature sensors drop to below 45F within the heater, the pump and blower will automatically activate to provide freeze protection. The equipment stays on until four minutes after the sensors detect that the spa temperature has risen to 45F or higher.
To maximize the view, new windows and garden doors were added during the renovation. Eurovinyl-made windows were installed by Kempenfelt. These windows offer steel-reinforced vinyl, which increase their strength over 300 per cent over a non-reinforced sash. We chose vinyl windows because they are maintenance-free and resist corrosion, peeling, chalking and fading, they are impervious to rot, blistering and flaking, as well as infestation by termites or other insects. Casement windows were chosen with a slim frame and no mullions to provide the largest possible view to the exterior.
Working with DOT Patio, we decided to use their 64-inch square weave table and matching chairs. The square table seats eight people and requires less space than a traditional rectangular option. The lounge was created from their Woodbridge collection, which includes dark charcoal gray pillows. Light blue pillows were added to the dining area and lounge. The hammock adds a desirable way to unwind while swinging in the breeze. We chose a bright multicolour hammock with sunny yellow pillows. To warm up those chilly Canadian nights, a slim, modern Napolean Linear Patioflame was used in the lounge area. It comes with topaz crystal glass embers and a stainless steel cover and has an easily accessible panel for operation.
A few hours spent at Sheridan nursery turned out to be the most fun I’ve had all year! Choosing lightweight (and maintenance-free) composite planters made moving them around a lot easier. We chose a mix of perennials and annuals for the mini-gardens, as annuals can be replaced when blooming slows and perennials can be planted in the ground when the weather is warm or at the end of the season. In addition to hyacinths, daffodils and tulips, we chose creeping lamium, vivace, primrose, ranunculus, ivy and periwinkle. Willow sticks were inserted for height and moss balls were used to add visual interest to the planters.
URBAN RETREAT HOMES
Samantha Sannella, BFA ID, M ARCH
Design Leadership, Strategy and Management