Hanging out on your deck or patio may not be appealing during the winter, but chilly temperatures shouldn’t cause you to completely neglect outdoor spaces. You can get a head start on spring — even while keeping toasty inside — by determining whether updates or even a complete overhaul is needed.
“It’s an easy time to get contractors to come out and get the bid together,” said Bob Mullinax, the owner of RPM Landscape and Pavers, based in Acworth.
If you wait until the spring rush for professionals to start designing an outdoor area and get estimates, or even to determine your budget and needs for a do-it-yourself project, it could be early summer before the changes start to bloom. To get you started, here are common problem areas and possible solutions:
Problem area: A 10-by-10 concrete pad
Possible solution: Expand the slab to make it ready for entertaining. You can pour more concrete and resurface the whole area with pavers or stone to give it a seamless look. If you are level with or a half inch from the threshold at the door, your best option is to add a border of stone or brick to the existing area and then lay more concrete with a border, said Kenda Cowart with Daco Enterprises, based in Powder Springs.
Problem area: Too chilly when the sun goes down
Possible solution: Heat up the space in a variety of ways. An outdoor heater, which typically runs from $100 to $500, can be placed close to dining and seating areas. Build a fire pit that can warm you and fit with the outdoor aesthetic. A fire pit kit with stone, brick or stucco can cost $500 to $2,500, depending on the features, Cowart said. If a fire pit is placed away from the patio or deck, a small patio could be added, Mullinax said. Building an outdoor fireplace is a larger investment but can be more dramatic and heat a larger area. A real masonry fireplace for patios could cost about $12,000 for the kit, which Cowart said is put together like Legos; stainless-steel fireplaces with a veneer that looks like masonry range around $5,000.
Problem area: Going back and forth to the indoor kitchen
Possible solution: Outdoor kitchens can suit all entertaining options and cooking needs. In addition to the gas or charcoal grill, homeowners can add smokers, burners, skillets, pizza ovens, refrigerators and storage cabinets. Outdoor kitchen cabinets, for example, are made of a marine-grade, high-density polyethylene that was engineered for direct exposure to rain, snow, and extreme hot or cold temperatures and will not fade, split or crack. Daco has been installing those cabinets with honed granite or polished stone countertops.
Problem area: Too boring
Possible solution: Dress up the patio. Options include a color-sealed or stamped and exposed aggregate on the existing concrete patio; natural stone; and concrete pavers, which represent the majority of what Mullinax uses for clients. Creating a seating wall also can add interest to a patio, and natural stone can be used to mix the textures, Mullinax said. Another option is modular block by Blockstone, which has a stone veneer and is a bit more affordable than a natural stone wall, or Belgard’s Celtik Wall collection that has an antiqued, European look.