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.
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!