Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Decks taking the place of cottage getaways

Hot tubs, pools create backyard sanctuaries

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ONCE upon a time, a having a simple, straightforward deck in your backyard meant you were really living life. That's not the case anymore, says Aqua-Tech Pool, Spa & Bath's co-owner, Glen McGillivray.

"The reason for that is a lot of people are now looking at the skyrocketing cost of buying a cottage and looking for an alternative," he says. "Nowadays, people are not only looking at building a deck, but at creating a backyard dream centre. When you look at how much buying and maintaining a cottage costs in terms of money and time, more and more people are choosing that option."

Not only do families choose to build a deck, but they literally take the plunge by purchasing both a pool and hot tub.

"These days, people are truly creating backyard sanctuaries, and for significantly less than it would take to buy a cottage. We're seeing people not only go with a pool and hot tub, but with a big barbecue or cooking centre, along with the obligatory tables, chairs and lounges," McGillivray says. "People just decide to go for it and buy the whole package. It's just so convenient. There's no travel involved, and only minimal maintenance."

Windsor Plywood's Jeff Johner adds that as far as decks are concerned, newer products such as aluminum railing are being used to add a touch of elegance to the overall ambience.

"Aluminum railing is lightweight, looks great and pretty much maintenance-free," he says. "The durability factor is the first thing that sells people. Then, when we point out that it can be teamed with something like a clear tempered glass enclosure, they go for it. It's an elegant, practical look that really sets off a deck. If that's where you're going to be spending a good portion of your leisure time, why do not do it up just right?"

Star's Anderson says that combination is becoming more popular by the day.

"The railing has become so sought after that we recently started carrying it in greater quantities," he says. "Aluminum powder-coated railing looks incredible as a trim/support structure for tempered glass. It can surround the whole deck, and the great thing is that you get clear sight lines all around."

Of course, says McGillivray, there's the coveted hot tub. While more backyards are being outfitted with them these days, they're not necessarily being located in or on the deck itself.

"We offer three options -- completely sunken in, part-in and part-out, or with the tub sitting on architectural concrete, at ground level with steps leading up to the top of the tub," he says. "Each job is unique, but we're finding that a lesser number of hot tubs are being built on or into decks. No one seems to want to maintain wood anymore."

McGillivray says the arrival of architectural concrete has revolutionized the placement of hot tubs.

"It's maintenance-free, affordable and allows for tubs to sit on a nice looking concrete pad at ground level," he says. "It comes in different designs and colours, such as Roman Slate and Sierra Stone. If people want, we can have the hot tub butt up to the deck on the concrete. That allows for the hot tub to be placed more or less at ground level. A lot of customers like the fact that such a placement affords greater privacy."

He adds that although there are still requests for sunken tubs, the part-in, part-out and free standing (on concrete pad) options are more popular.

"With the part-in, part-out design, it's just easier to get in and out of the tub. And having the tub sit on architectural concrete is better in two senses: lower maintenance, and safety. The concrete has grit added to it to reduce slippage, and it looks great. If a customer decided to go with a tub set into their deck, we advise them to consider Trex composite because it is tackier than wood. There are a lot of options to choose from. It's just a matter of choosing the one that's right for you."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 10, 2005 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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