Outdoor Living

Add value to your home with simple, elegant, and comfortable outdoor spaces.

We love our outdoor spaces these days, lavishing decks and patios with décor and furnishings that feed our yearnings for comfort. So, it’s no surprise that outdoor settings figure prominently for many looking to buy a new home, no matter the size. “Decks and patios are seen as added extensions to the value of the home,” says Cynthia Riegle, owner of Riegle Home Staging in Charlottesville. However, a pressure-treated pine deck that’s on its last leg or a cracked concrete patio will reflect poorly on an otherwise appealing home. The deck or patio is the focal point for outdoor relaxation and entertaining, so a small investment to spruce it up can go a long way.

Deck and Patio Care

If you have an older pressure-treated wooden deck, Glen Stagg, owner of Decked Out Builders in Virginia Beach, recommends you clean the wood with a mild detergent, rinse, and apply a pigmented or solid stain that absorbs into the wood to keep out the moisture and give it some color for a couple of years. Don’t be tempted by products that supposedly refurbish old decks; they often peel off the wood in time. “I have homeowners with pressure-treated decks who complain about the thick deck spray coverings they applied on their old deck boards and wish they never wasted their money on the product,” says Stagg. 

Many homeowners who are building or replacing a deck are choosing a more maintenance-friendly composite or PVC material instead of wood. “The initial expense of a composite or PVC deck is about the same as wood when you add the annual maintenance costs over time,” says Stagg. “In time, the wood will splinter, and there is only so much you can do to keep it safe and looking decent.”

Top choices for composite decks are Trex and Azek, he says. Trex is slightly more affordable at $6 to $9 per square foot. It has a recycled wood and plastic inner core that can heat up in summer sun, making it less comfortable to walk on with bare feet. Azek costs a few dollars more per square foot but is crafted from materials that stay comfortable in the heat of summer. Both offer long warranties (up to 30 years) and come in many colors, including deep wood-grain patterns that give decks the look of authentic wood.

Patios also require care and maintenance to varying degrees, depending on the materials chosen. “Concrete slabs are prone to cracks,” says Jim Farinholt, owner of Custom Pools and Landscapes in Richmond. “While natural stone patios with narrow packed joints that allow water to permeate are more forgiving, porcelain pavers and stamped concrete pavers offer cooler, more affordable options. These newer materials also require less maintenance and don’t break down with age, as concrete tends to.” Prices vary widely depending on the type of hardscape chosen and the constraints of the location. 

Staging Your Outdoor Space

Homeowners preparing to sell their houses need to take extra steps to make their outdoor spaces seem inviting. “Even if it’s just a small deck or patio, staging it draws the eye outside so that potential buyers can understand that the house has increased value with this outdoor living area,” says Riegle. 

When preparing the outdoor spaces, think simple, elegant, and comfortable, Riegle says. “These spaces need to be, above all, clean and in harmony with the overall marketing plan for the house,” she says. “Nothing should clash with the tone of the interior rooms.” Replace older furniture, or apply a fresh coat of paint if new pieces aren’t in the budget, and replace weathered cushions and pillows in seating areas.

The look and quality of outdoor spaces can have a profound impact on buyers. “Anyone who is looking to buy a house wants to be able to visualize the lifestyle they aspire to have,” concludes Riegle.


This article originally appeared in our June 2019 issue.

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