Patio Makeover Part 1 – Expand, Stain & Plan!
The sun is shining and the weather is brilliant. It’s the perfect time to build the patio of our dreams, and it all starts with more concrete!
If there’s one thing my babes loves, it’s a really big deck.
Back in Connecticut, we built her an enormous brown deck to satisfy her needs, and I must say, it was quite a glorious deck!
And while that big brown deck could have gone on satisfying her needs for years and years to come, life threw us a curveball (and a welcome one, at that), and we moved to Georgia after only one summer with our new deck.
Our Georgia home was a lot of things, but an outdoor haven was not one of them. For one, the heat and humidity kept us inside during summer days. Then there were the bugs. Though they didn’t pay much heed to me, they saw Handan as an all-day, all-you-can-eat buffet. The poor woman attracted all the mosquitoes in Northern Georgia to our yard.
And then there was our deck.
Small, deteriorating, and built by crude men who seemingly had no knowledge of nor concern for building codes and proper deck-building technique.
Walking across the deck could induce sea-sickness, as the whole structure shimmied and swayed like an exotic dancer or a drunken sailor.
Of course, my babes had plans for the little brown deck.
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But life threw us another (very pleasant) curveball, and we ended up here in the Florida panhandle.
Now, as we all know, Florida is about as flat as a Marine Corps haircut, and decks just aren’t much of a thing. A deck needs to have some height, if even just a couple of feet like we had in Connecticut.
No, here in Florida, we don’t have many decks. But patios? Now there’s something you see on each and every house.
Ours had one, too, though you’d be forgiven for thinking it was just some spilled concrete the builders had left behind.
We didn’t bother placing all of our outdoor furniture on it. If we had, there’d be no room for walking! Instead, we kept it to the basics and used the lanai for sitting.
Fortunately, I have a wife who likes to think BIG, and not just about decks. She also likes big patios!
So from day one in this house, she was planning to expand that little concrete pad into a glorious patio that could serve double-duty as a helipad or a drag strip, if needed.
Of course, a big empty patio is about as inviting as a big empty parking lot (unless, of course, you’re at Disney World, and then a big empty parking lot is entirely inviting), so her big plans don’t stop there. But that’s a subject we’ll be talking about a little later, so for now, let’s just focus on The Biggening.
We hired a local concrete contractor named Dallas, and he and his crew cleared, leveled and poured a whole lotta concrete.
When Dallas was finished, we had enough concrete to build a second house on!
There was just one problem. The old patio was stained gunship gray, and the new patio was poured in two stages – each a different color. That shouldn’t have happened, but the local concrete supplier changed their formula, and dozens (if not hundreds) of local homeowners and future homeowners were left with patios and driveways of different colors. This prompted a class-action lawsuit against the concrete supplier, but all it meant for us was that we had a tri-color patio.
Fortunately, we had no intention of leaving that concrete au naturel.
I worked with my local Sherwin-Williams rep Rey Munoz to determine which paint or stain would be best for this situation, and we settled on a product by H&C called Cool Feel. It’s a high-build coating, and it’s billed as a stain, but it’s thicker than any stain or paint I’ve ever seen. The “Cool Feel” part comes from microspheres in the product that help reduce surface temperature by reflecting sunlight away from the concrete. I’m curious to see how well this technology works when summer kicks into high gear!
Since we poured the new patio last summer but only just got around to staining it, I had a bit of cleanup and prep before I could start staining.
I rented a big floor sander to try to remove the old gray coating, but it wouldn’t budge. Handan and I figured if it wasn’t budging, we’d have no issues coating over it. The sander rental wasn’t a waste, though. I took it into the lanai and gave it a serious scrubbing, and we ended up putting a different color Cool Feel on the brick floor in there. More on that in a future post!
After power-washing the patio, I let it dry overnight and then gave it one final dust off with a blower.
I started cutting-in, and we knew right away we’d picked the right color.
Well, we hadn’t picked the right color, actually. Not at first.
We wanted a light sand color for the patio – like the sand at one of our beautiful Emerald Coast beaches. But our first color choice (Sherwin-Williams Natural Tan, of which we bought 7 gallons) was just too light and a little too cold for our liking when we finally saw it in place under the sun. We brought out our SW color deck and compared it to the test patch on the patio. The new clear winner was called (no surprise here) Sand Beach. Fortunately, Sherwin-Williams was able to change our Natural Tan to Sand Beach with no issues – they’ve got quite a sophisticated color-mixing computer system! They even made the shade 20% lighter as my babes wanted. She was a little scared that full-strength Sand Beach would be too dark. I don’t think she had anything to worry about, but 80% Sand Beach looks just as good!
I also painted the brick trim – and that gave us the idea to use this same product in a different color on the lanai floor.
I don’t know about you, but I think Sand Beach is a perfect color for concrete. Not too light, not too dark, and a nice warm tone without feeling hot. Goldilocks!
I applied two coats to the entire patio – the first coat rolled on in one direction, and the second coat rolled on perpendicular. I had to coat the area shown below three times, as the brushed concrete had deeper brush marks due to a bit of rain during the final concrete pour.
It was a tense day, as rain threatened all day long, and the wind howled, occasionally blowing debris up onto the freshly-stained concrete.
But in the end, the rain held off, and the stain turned out beautiful.
We know have a uniform blank canvas on which to execute the rest of our plans for a Grand Patio Makeover!
And now let’s talk about our Big Plans for our Big New Patio.
The biggest component of the patio makeover will be our pergola build, which we’ll be starting hopefully within the week. We’re working with Toja Grid on this project – they’ve provided us with the brackets, and we’ve just bought some beautiful Cypress timbers for the build. We have ten 12-foot 6×6 timbers that weigh over 100 lbs each, so this should be an interesting build for Handan and me!
Once the pergola is built, the rest comes down to decorating. We’ll be using a lot of neutral colors, natural materials and simple geometric patterns accentuated with pops of green from plants and ornamental trees.
Eventually, I’ll be building an outdoor kitchen and an outdoor fireplace, and of course, we’ll have string lights lending their soft, warm glow to complete the look at night.
Yep, we’ve got big plans for this outdoor space, so stay tuned as we knock out the projects one-by-one!
Your Sand Beach paint color looks fantastic!
If you don’t mind a suggestion from one who has lived in the South, including Destin, for most of her life, if you decide on an open pergola, see if you can find an option for a roll away cover for the “roof”. As you know temps get meltingly hot and rain – well you know monsoons are kind of a way of life. My husband and I screened our patio and it was the best investment we made. No bugs, heat not as bad with fans, and we can sit out when it’s raining. You could extend your screened in area. I LOVE pergola patios -they’re gorgeous but they they’re like convertibles down South – comfortable for only a few months. My friend did the pergola with the curtains but she took them down because of the rain and mildew that came with it.
As I said, your plans look beautiful though!
We du have some ideas in mind, Ju! 😏
LOVE!, How would the patio stain hold up thru brutal midwest winters. My daughters concrete is different colors because of a 2 day process 🙁 thanks greg!
Stain will hold up to any weather, though as with anything in life, years out in the elements will eventually wear it down.
Wow! It looks fabulous already. Once Handan has her way, it will be the envy of the neighborhood, I’m sure.
I was curious about using a paint sprayer instead of a roller, since I have a bad back. Would a sprayer work, or is the stain too thick? Anyway, can’t wait to see the end result!
Hi Noelle, this coating is far too thick to be sprayed, and if you thinned it down so that you could, I imagine it would lost most if its high-build coating characteristics.
Skeletons in laundry baskets and your amazing Connecticut backyard is why I started following you two! I can hardly wait to see what amazeball transformations you two execute!! Ding Ding! Round 3!😁😁😁 P.S. How’s your money tree doing?
Thanks, Cindy! I know you’ve been with us pretty much forever! I’m so happy you remembered our money tree – you told us to move it near the front door in Jax, and we did. It’s thriving now – at least twice as big – and it’s near the “wealth corner” of our new house! 🙂
As far as patio space goes… I agree… the bigger the better..
But, doesn’t Florida have lots of mosquitoes??? I mean isn’t that why I see ‘bird cages’ in almost every back yard down your way??
Anywho, not sure if you kept your patio heaters… if you do decide another one is in order.. my suggestion is one from Home Depot.. https://images.thdstatic.com/productImages/3a02d6cb-405c-486f-9308-7cb880564e82/svn/bronze-hampton-bay-patio-heaters-hd10-64_600.jpg
We have had ours for more that 10 years and have purchased 3 as gifts! Why this one? The bonnet as I call it is adjustable… so you can direct the heat..
During Covid we had our family over for presents and hot chocolate..everyone brought their own insulated mugs.. our covered patio (18×24)is open on 3 sides. We hung a couple of tarps to block the breeze (coming out about 10 feet from the house on 2 sides) We had snow on the ground and it was about 44 degrees.. with the heater going we managed to get the temperature up to 52.. we of course were all dressed for the weather but no one was cold!!!
We do have a lot of mosquitoes, Cathy, but those big screened in areas are generally for pools, and we think they ruin the aesthetic. We’ll just deal with the bugs however we can. I will take a look at that heater – we may get some for the winter!
Thanks for responding!! I must say I was surprised by how much more they are now. We paid 180$ for ours, and 250$ for the gifted ones. I also convinced my cousin to get one for her covered space between the house and the garage. She called hers ‘The Bronze Dragon”. The newer ones have flat areas for drinks or snacks and a place to put sand in the bottom to help keep it from blowing over in big winds.. We bungie ours to a heavy teak bench close to the house..
Can’t wait to see your patio when it is completed.. I think it is going to be fantastic!!!
PS… still feel that directional heater is worth the money!!
Love the stain, it looks fantastic!
If I might give you some advice on your build. I agree with Ju, we built our home 23 years ago and we started out with the open porch. After our first summer down here in Florida it was clear to us that the porch was no longer going to work for us. It’s hotter than Haiti’s down here and there are days when you can’t breathe because the humidity is so high. Not to mention having to scrub the mold and mildew off everything on a regular basis, isn’t for the faint of hearts. I would suggest that you open up your current lanai and make it a part of the new “addition”, that way you can use it year around. You could still have an outdoor kitchen space separate from your lanai, so it meets all your needs. Plus you have to keep the hurricanes in mind when you’re building here in Florida. You have a very talented wife that can figure out the issues of living in a high humidity and mold prone environment. I look forward to seeing your finished product.
What a patio! I can’t wait to see the next steps. I am really hoping that the pergola build was already given the green light from the HOA? I have seen several cases where the HOA was a major problem with shed/bunkie builds…
Thank you, Claudine! Our HOA isn’t so bad here. 🙂