Our last two articles were about swimming pools which are, admittedly, a very big DIY decision. One type of DIY project that some people have been known to knock out over a weekend (depending on the amount of help from friends and bribery necessary to get that help) is the building of a pool/deck. You can preorder the materials, get them delivered to your house, and do whatever preparatory work you need to before the big weekend. Before you announce said big weekend we need to think about which structure to build: deck or patio?
Broadly speaking, patios and decks are the same in that they are both outdoor spaces which allow you and your guests to enjoy each other’s company and conversation while experiencing the joy of the great outdoors. Both can give you the sense of that outdoor “room” that’s just another part of your your house. Both, depending on your municipality, may require permits and an identification and flagging of buried water, gas, and electric lines. But that’s where the similarities end. One can make an argument for one being cheaper than the other, but the price difference is not significant enough to be the deciding factor. Hence, we’ll talk about construction a bit more first.
Of course “deck” refers to ships and how they were constructed. And home decks, like ship decks, have been traditionally made of wood. But as technology has pushed us forward we’ve found that composite materials can still deliver the look and feel of a traditional deck, while delivering a longer-lasting structure (doesn’t need to be powerwashed and resealed) and being “green” (many of those composites are made of recycled plastics). What’s the catch, you’re asking? Well, those materials are often cost double their wood cousins. Whether you choose composite or wood, you’ll need concrete footings to stabliize the structure.
That being said, you have to keep in mind that you are “limited” to standard lengths. If you start looking at or ordering non-standard lengths for your deck, the price starts to move up pretty quickly.
Decks have the sense of “elevation” about them – even when you talk about them. Patios are always imagined as flat structures built on the ground that can be made of differing types of materials – from paving stones to brick. There is no “sealing” or “resealing” but you can count the grass and weeds that you have to be vigilant about as its own type of “sealing.” You also have the luxury of having a fire pit, if you’d like (not a deck possibility).
Unlike decks, if you ever decide to change the look and feel of your paving stones, you can simply pull up your old ones and reuse your existing leveled base with new paving stones or bricks. You also have the freedom to make it as large as you want as you are only limited by the “standard length” issue we discussed with decking.
Think about the sort of social events that you have and enjoy. Do they involve a fire pit (patio is best)? Do you have an inherent love of wood? What materials make up your home? What kind of maintenance do you want to do/are prepared to do? Once you’ve sketched out some ideas, price out possibilities so you know what you are getting into.
Whether you decide to build a patio or deck, remember that at the Rental Center of Monticello we are always here to help counsel with advice; we can also rent you things like an excavator that can either help give a different shape and structure to the deck you want to build or help you to level and flatten an area you want to use for a patio.
So, interestingly enough, there are two schools of thought on this. Let’s start the the assumption that if you’re one of our customers or you’re the sort of person to frequent an equipment rental place, like ours in Monticello, that this is a DIY project, which changes the price from $25,000+, which is what a professional contractor might charge, to something between $5000-$15,000. Now the reason for this variance is because you can choose to build natural or artificial.
These kinds of pools have been the vogue in Europe for some time but are only now starting to catch on here in the United States. The idea stems from a number or principles:
1. Having a more “natural” look in which water and stone blend in with your existing landscape rather than a strange, alien structure.
2. Having plants and some bacteria do the cleaning for you instead of expensive (and possibly harmful) chemicals.
3. Being more environmentally oriented while saving money.
Some things to keep in mind – you can have the plants take up a segment of your pool on one side, or you can have them surround the pool on all sides. Just keep in mind that 50% of the surface area of the pool has to be dedicated to the plant areas and these are not places you should swim. yes, the plants are pretty to look at, but you also need to keep in mind that they need to be left in peace to do the work of keeping your water clean. And it’s not 100% maintenance free, either. Remember, it’s a pool, not a pond, and so you will need to make sure the water is properly oxygenated, which can be done by installing a pump and some PVC pipe. We aren’t trying to make this sound simple – it’s not easy, but it can be easily done – and certainly as easily done, if not more so, than an artificial pool.
This is a scene that some Americans are familiar (and comfortable) with. Plants are on the outside of the pool – but not too far away, and while the pool is clearly artificial it still beautifully fits in with this backyard (you could argue that it creates the backyard, but that’s another story).
So, whether you’ve decided on an artificial or a natural pool, you’ll still have to dig. We’ve written about some of our most rented excavators on our blog before. If you want a huge pool, perhaps you might get the John Deere 200D. If you have a smaller space or want a smaller pool, you could rent our Yanmar SV08. You’ll want to maintain a 3:1 ratio – 3 feet down for every 1 foot wide. You can make your pool as deep as you want – just remember you have to keep digging to get there!
This may seem rather obvious, but also make sure you’re doing this work during a time of the year where there is little to no rain. Oddly enough you’re eventually going to fill this hole with water, but water falling into your giant hole in the ground before it’s ready can lead to a lot of mud on the bottom of your pool (which will have to be removed) and a series of collapses along your carefully created wall/side of the pool (which may have to be redug or you might have to change your product scope.
One last thing we want to talk about in today’s post is the different types of artificial pools you can have. This is what you’ll be concerned with after you’ve dug that hole in ground.
You can get a concrete/gunite pool, a vinyl liner pool, or a fiberglass pool.
We’ll start with the last one first, as it’s the easiest by far. These are preconstructed and are brought to your place ready to install in one piece. They are also the “low maintenance” option (around $50 per month) because fiberglass will not rip, tear, crack, chip, or leak. Because it’s a non-porous surface, fiberglass is algae-resistant and this makes cleaning an maintenance a breeze. You also never have to drain it for maintenance.
The vinyl liner pool is very popular these days. It is the “middle” option between the cost of a fiberglass pool (cheaper) and a concrete/gunite pool (most expensive). It does have some drawbacks. The liner is subject to algae and tearing, which can lead to you having to replace it. Maintenance is still going to be around $100 per month but sometimes the upfront cost (less than concrete/gunite) and the particular situation (we won’t have sharp things in the pool and promise to maintain the liner!) might lead one to go this route.
The concrete/gunite pool is the traditional type and has been around for a long time. It’s most frequently used for public and commercial projects these days. A framework of steel rods and mesh is sprayed over by concrete and gunite, then coated with plaster. The plaster can chip or crack easily and because it’s a porous surface, algae can find a home to grow. The maintenance on this type of pool will be at least $100 per month and will also require an annual draining and an every other year acid wash or re-plastering.
Whatever option you end up going with, remember that you are building something that should last many years. When doing your calculations, make sure you include maintenance as part of your cost consideration. As time goes on the savings may be large enough to affect your final decision on what to do.
We hope there’s some water near you this weekend where you can swim without having to worry about building a pool!