HGTV’s Sebastian Clovis on building the perfect outdoor living space

With summer coming to a close, now is the perfect time to squeeze in your last major outdoor renovation projects, just in time to enjoy it for a little while before winter hits. Access to spaces outside is more essential now than ever before, so we asked Sebastian Clovis for some of his best advice for constructing the perfect outdoor oasis.

What is the latest trend for outdoor living spaces?

My favourite trend right now is the use of metal in place of wood and concrete. In my opinion metal is a phenomenal material to work with because it is so versatile. It can be very thin and malleable yet extremely strong. It’s great for retaining walls, planter boxes, stairs, pergolas, fences and more and will leave your build looking newer for longer.

What is step one when renovating the back deck?

Look at the integrity of the structure and decide whether you need to change the whole thing or just the boards. If you’re building a deck from scratch, then, depending on the size and height, you need to check with your local municipality and see whether they require a permit.

What are the best options for deck reconstruction right now?

In the face of soaring lumber prices, grey paver stones are looking more beautiful than ever before! It may be a good idea to hold off on building your deck to see if the market will correct itself — but if you want your deck done now, there are a lot of options to weigh out. You can use traditional pressure treated lumber, composite deck boards or newer products like stone decking tiles, which are flexible lightweight tiles that can go over top of most wooden deck structures without additional support.

What is the best way to connect the outside and inside without the traditional sliding door?

Besides buying plants to create the feel, there’s been some awesome advances in skylight technology. For example, there’s an amazing skylight that works in top floor spaces where a sloped roof comes down close to floor level. When you open the skylight, it turns into a mini walkout space creating a wonderful connection point.

What are the most important things to remember when renovating decks and porches? 

You have to support the deck properly or else it will shift over time. Also, it’s important to reseal the ends of your pressure-treated lumber after cutting it; otherwise, you’re leaving your boards susceptible to discolouration and rot. Squaring up your frame is important so that your deck boards line up properly. I sometimes see people building their deck flush with the threshold of their back door – while it is a seamless transition, it allows snow to build up on the door and potentially leak into the house during the winter. Finally, remember to critter-proof the perimeter of your deck — the last thing you want is a family of skunks living under your deck!

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