Christopher French Construction Company Website
General Contractor (B)
Concrete Contractor (C-8)
Landscape Contractor (C-27)
Bonded and Insured, License # 500957
Serving Santa Clarita and the Antelope Valley, California
This is our Patio Covers and Decks web page. See Page 2
Christopher French Construction Co.
Call now (661) 313-2221
Or Email - email@example.com
There is so much to be said about patio covers that I
decided to write a little about them. They can range from
something built incorrectly, and we have seen many that
were, even to the point of falling to the ground, and others
built properly, adding beauty and shade to the home.
They can also be an extension to a home’s floor space
with outdoor living rooms with fireplaces, couches and
tables. Many people spend more time dining in their
covered patio then they do in their kitchens and nooks,
especially where the weather is nice most all year round,
like California for example.
Shade Bar Patios are very common. A shade bar is
made up from 2x2, 3x3 or 2x4 strips of lumber running
perpendicular to wooden rafters made of 4x6 (for
example). The shade bars are spaced approx 2 ½” apart,
just enough to provide shade and filtered sunlight. Then
the home can be protected from scorching heat without
spending a large amount of money to build a covered
patio, also offering architectural beauty and attraction. An
important thing to remember when owning a shade bar
patio, is to keep the paint or stain well maintained,
otherwise the task of scraping off old peeling paint can be
next to impossible (and dangerous, if lead paint is
present) because of the tight spacing of the shade bars.
At that point it’s more cost effective to replace the whole
patio, or at least the shade bars.
Covered Patios are nice because they can shelter the
home from both sun and rain. However, the cost to build
is more because of the extra expense in concrete
footings, beam and rafter size, sheathing and roofing
materials. A covered patio offers more opportunity for use
because of its rainproof roof. In some instances, a
covered patio may block-out the sunlight in an already
darkened home. Then a person should consider a shade
bar patio, or install skylights in the home and covered
patio. There is no substitute for natural lighting.
Pergola; are mainly used as a garden feature. They are
designed for vines to grow upon. They’re wonderful for
creating a transition between landscapes and structures,
or even a sitting area allowing the breeze and filtered sun
(if vines and plants are hanging from them). A Pergola
can cost much less than an average covered patio or
even a shade bar patio, because most often their open
designs use fewer beams. But, there are those built with
giant columns and large beams with corbelled ends, stone
pillars, etc, that are very impressive, and costly.
Arbor; is similar to the Pergola, both designed as a
garden feature and architectural addition to a landscape.
Most Arbors’ and Pergola intended for hanging vines and
plants are built with unpainted lumber, because once the
vines are established it would be impossible to repaint.
Trellis; is a smaller structure, and can be incorporated
with a Pergola and Arbor, created to hang plants and
vines. It’s made of Latticework, which is a framework
consisting of a criss-crossed pattern of strips of building
material, typically wood, vinyl or metal.
Decks, are a great way to expand usable space in the
backyard or hillside slopes where only vegetation can
grow. Besides being practical for extra square footage,
they can take advantage of beautiful scenic views over
cities and mountains. Decks can also be beautifully
designed with large timbers or brick arches and stucco
walls, with wrought iron railings or wooden balusters.
Stairways leading to and from the decks can also add
great interest and beauty to a landscape, especially
where uneven terrain makes it difficult to maintain and
utilize the land. They also shade the home if built from the
2nd story. Decks can be waterproofed or built with a 3/8”
gap between planks for water to drain through, both
designs do have their advantages. The building cost for a
deck compared to most patio covers is usually more
because they are designed to carry a load of people and
furniture. Deck designs as with patios are endless and
can be spectacular!
Outdoor Kitchens and Living Rooms can be a
fantastic way to enjoy more of the great outdoors. Imagine
reading a magazine nestled in a comfortable couch or
easy-chair while listening to a crackling fire in your
outdoor fireplace, glancing up at the trees and vegetation
surrounding you, enjoying a cool breeze that just blew by;
Or having a family gathering, not just for the holidays, but
anytime, while cooking their favorite meal looking over the
mountains or even a small backyard designed with
privacy and beauty to escape the hectic world outside. In
an area like Santa Clarita, there will be plenty of beautiful
days to enjoy an outdoor kitchen and/or living room. We
can help you design and build, from beginning to end, just
give us a call and let’s get started!
A Gazebo is a pavilion structure, often octagonal, used in
gardens and open areas with steps rising to an elevated
platform. Gazebos are freestanding, mostly solid roofed,
and open on all sides. They provide shade, shelter,
ornamental features in a landscape, and a place to rest.
Many gazebos are located on hillside slopes to take
advantage of a scenic view. Gazebos can be constructed
of all sorts of designs and building materials; ranging from
lightweight pre-made kits consisting of lattice work, to
custom sawn timbers, tiled roofs and masonry. Beautiful
walkways leading to and from the gazebo are also an
important part of the garden feature. Special lighting can
add beauty and usefulness at night.
Some problems we have seen and come across.
Patio structures and decks, too often, are not taken
seriously enough by those who build them. Many are built
by unlicensed contractors and homeowners who should
not be building these large and heavy structures, which
could fall and hurt or even kill someone. In our time we
have seen many structures fallen or ready to fall. A fallen
patio cover can cause extensive damage to the home as
well; broken windows, walls, etc.
Quite often, we have come across ledger boards installed
with lag bolts completely missing the supporting members
in the existing wall, installed by inexperienced, unknowing
or uncaring personal, with nothing more than stucco
holding many of these critical fasteners. The carrying
beams and rafters were under-sized to save money,
causing sagging and danger of breakage. Insufficient
hardware, bolts, hangers, post caps, knee braces (for
lateral support), shallow or no concrete footings, etc, were
missing or were inadequate to save money, or someone
just not knowing, are very common in what we see.
Decks, especially 2nd story decks, can be most
dangerous if not built correctly. If a building permit had
been issued for these projects, the building inspector
would have never allowed these structures to exist, which
in turn, would protect everybody, especially the
homeowner. If a builder says you don’t need a building
permit, then that’s your first clue that trouble is on the
way. A homeowner should not be expected to know all the
building codes, and most will not know the difference
when proper building methods are compromised to save
money and time. Acquiring a building permit for most patio
and deck projects can be done over the counter in just
one day. Others may take a little longer if special planning
is evolved. Why invest money in something that later on
will have to be torn down? Or could be a liability? We are
qualified to build and repair all types of structures and
would be pleased to help you design, build or repair your
patio cover or deck. We always recommend building it
right the first time to save money, time and even lives!
Call Now! (661) 313-2221
Or Email, firstname.lastname@example.org
This shade bar patio cover was built with
steel posts and stone pillars to prevent
prior dry rot and termite damage. In
addition to the added beauty, the
homeowner will enjoy this patio for many
decades to come.
This covered patio was remodeled
because of beam failure due to dry rot.
New footings, large beams, posts, knee
braces and T&G sheathing were all
replaced, to keep the massive beams
and original footprint layout incorporated
with their swimming pool.
This new 2nd story deck was built with
8x8 posts and 6x12 beams. The knee
braces were made of 6x10's and the
flooring was made of 4x8's. The original
deck was rotted out and built incorrectly,
in great danger of falling to the ground.
This Pergola was made of steel. The
grape vines photo was taken one year
after construction. Lighting and misters
were also installed for a cool retreat on a
hot summer day in the privacy of their
own backyard. We also built a water fall
next to it for the peaceful sound of water!
This covered patio impresses everyone
who sees it. The massive carrying beams
were 6x20 in size. We installed recessed
lighting and outdoor speakers. The
homeowners planned on using it as an
outdoor living room and BBQ area. Later
they plan on installing a fireplace.
This 2nd story deck has a beautiful view
of the mountains behind. They have
access through their master bedroom
and enjoy a glass of wine in the evenings
after a hard days work. All the railings
were fastened with weatherproof screws
and bolts so it's easy to replace a part of.
This Arbor/Shade Bar patio cover was
made of steel and decorative wrought
iron. We built the pillars of authentic
used brick. The filtered sunlight looks
beautiful against her English garden
plants, as it invites a person to come and
sit under their patio with table and chairs.
This Arbor/Shade Bar patio cover also
looks beautiful at night. The low voltage
lighting system softens the darkness and
draws your eyes towards the backyard.
The original patio trellis was infested with
termites halfway through the rafters, on
their way to the house itself, in no time!
This Shade Bar patio cover was replaced
because of termites and dry rot. We
used 2x4's for the shade bars which
gave a little more shading underneath.
The photo is of me nailing down the
shade bars with 16D galvanized gun
nails, which has great holding power.
This photo is of a 2nd story deck which
was falling down because of dry rot and
had been incorrectly built. The beams
rotted at the posts and were barely
hanging on with a small little 69 cent clip
that was installed by the 1st builder. We
replaced the deck with the photo below.
This photo is of a 2x8 ledger we installed
on a home ready for a new patio cover.
When we install any ledger we make
certain all our lag bolts are penetrating
the framing members inside the wall as
per code. Too often, patio builders install
over half their bolts in stucco only.
This deck is being primed with premium
paint designed to last. All our paint is of
finest quality because we believe it saves
time and money over the long run; both
for us installing it, and the homeowners
themselves down the road.
This shade bar patio we built to be sturdy
enough to walk on the top. This is
especially handy when it comes time to
repaint it. Many shade bar patios are not
strong enough to stand on because they
were not built properly.
All photos and text copyrighted
We also repair patio structures of all kinds:
Most likely, the first place where patio structures fail is at
the posts, where they attach to the concrete. When dry rot
occurs at the bottom of the posts (because of standing
water) the connection is no longer sound. The patio
begins to sink slowly, termites can also take advantage of
the situation: they love moist lumber near the earth, over
time they can travel up the post into the roof and then into
the home. We have the experience and skills to remove
these posts and replace them without any change to the
patio. We also add proper hardware to help prevent any
future rotting. Non maintained structures are the next
cause of failure: when a painted patio is neglected and
peeling paint allows water to be trapped under the paint,
over time, dry rot begins. Beams and rafters become soft
and weak, then replacement is inevitable. If the situation
is bad enough, the only answer is to tear down the entire
patio and rebuild. Patio structures and decks can weigh
up to several tons, even a small structure can weigh over
600 pounds, don't take the risk of repair without the
experience. We can help you determine the most practical
and safe solution for a beautiful patio.
This photo above is the number one
reason for patio failure; standing water at
the posts. When concrete slabs have
poor drainage, water soaks up into the
post causing it to rot. Rust and corrosion
also begins at the post base (the metal
straps which support the post) This
problem can be solved with special
hardware and equipment for drilling into
concrete. Stone pillars have the
advantage of resisting water damage if
done properly, they are very beautiful too.
We can design, draw plans,
obtain building permits,
build from beginning to end.
This photo above is a shade bar patio
cover built with 2x6 rafters, 6x6 posts,
6x10 beam and 2x4 shade bars. New post
base hardware was installed to prevent
water damage from slow patio slab
drainage. We used 6x8 knee braces to
provide lateral support. The new lumber
will be allowed to dry out 30-40 days
before painting due to tree sap excretion.
When tree sap seeps out it can bubble
the new paint. New green lumber takes
months to dry out completely.
Another common problem we see in
patios is the concrete slab is too high. In
the photo above notice how the tile is
above the stucco weep screed. There
should be a minimum of 2 inches between
the top of finished patio floor and the
weep screed. Otherwise the stucco wall
won't be able to drain properly, causing
moisture to build up in the wall and
interior of the home, leading to dry rot,
bubbled drywall and termites. Homes with
low foundations and high grading of the
yards can be the reason for this problem.
In this photo above, notice the water stain
on the stucco just above the weep
screed. The patio slab was built too high
causing problems on the inside of the
home with the walls slowly rotting away.
The only answer for this home was to
remove the patio slab and rebuild it 3
inches lower with drains leading to the
street. Careful calculations had to be
made to insure there was enough fall for
The beams and rafters were cut with a
beam saw to prevent wavy cuts. Most of
the lumber was cut to size before painting
and delivery to the job site. This takes
careful planing but in the long run it saves
time. This patio cover was built in just one
day (excluding time for the footings).
Ideally, we like to purchase the lumber
weeks in advance, so that we can allow it
to dry out, and the tree sap escape as
much as possible before painting. This
photo above shows lumber after staining,
waiting to be installed. The beams and
rafters are already cut to length.
Prior to paint or stain we chemically wash
the lumber to remove any fungus or
grime. The lumber is then protected from
direct sunlight and stored under cover to
Hillside Decks are great if your slope is not too steep,
because the greater the slope the deeper the concrete
footings have to be, and that can be very expensive. If
your property is rough and uneven a wooden deck can be
a great way to even things out and make a more useful
area to enjoy. Very often we find homes with hillsides
have fantastic views and a deck can be a beautiful
platform to enjoy the view. Many homes, however, don't
have access to their hillsides because it's taken care of
by the city or HOA and can't be built upon.
Waterproof 2nd story decks are very useful because the area below is
covered from rain, creating a nice outdoor living space. The only drawback is
that the waterproof membrane on the deck must be in good condition at all times,
or water will seep in through worn areas and find its way to the supporting
lumber and framing, which over time can cause serious dry rot.
In the photos on the right, the deck began to feel soft in areas while walking on it,
the customer stated; this is one of the first clues of leaking and rotting. When we
pulled up the decking we found the plywood completely rotted and even the
structural framing was rotted. With only a couple of years of leaking, serious
damage can take place. When water seeps down through the small cracks in the
deck it remains for long periods of time because there is no way for it to escape
and dry out.
When this happens there is no easy and quick solution to the problem, the rotted
materials and framing must be removed and replaced. Dry rotted lumber has no
structural strength whatsoever unless it is only minor. The 2x8 joists and fascia
here on the exterior had to be replaced, the 5/8" plywood was also replaced.
The common question always asked is; "Can the existing deck be patched to
stop the leaks?" The answer is, rarely. For a simple patch job to work the deck
must be in good condition and securely attached to the structure. Most often
when a deck is leaking it was caused by improper installation, incorrect patching,
not being maintained, dry rot, or abused by heavy objects. The best repair is to
replace it entirely so there will be no further frustration or damage to the
structure. It is highly recommended that the top coat of decking be resealed
every few years, depending on exposure to walking traffic, sun and weather. If a
home shifts and settles that can cause damage to the decking as well, but this is
more rare in occurrence. If a deck structure was improperly built in the first place,
this can be a major problem due to the fact that the structural design was
compromised to save on building expense. The only remedy is to rebuild or
repair if possible.
The method of decking we use is the "Acrylic Lath" system. We favor this
method because of the greater strength and durability over that of the
"Fiberglass Mat". Another benefit of the AL (Acrylic Lath) system is it has a class
"A" fire retardant rating. There are 5 steps to the AL system and all 5 must be
done correctly to achieve the quality deck our customers deserve. With special
concrete powders and modifiers, cementitous layers are bonded together (and to
the wood deck) to create a beautiful looking and waterproof covering designed
for both residential and commercial uses. There are many beautiful colors to
choose from and textures can be created in several different ways.
Railings at waterproof decks can present a problem if they are mounted through
the decking material itself. In the photo below, we moved the railing aside and
noticed that each place where the posts were mounted to the decking there was
considerable dry rot damage. Manufactures of decking materials recommend not
bolting the railing through the deck coating because water will penetrate down
through the bolts and damage the deck. This home was only 10 years old at the
time of this photo. We recommend fastening railings to the exterior of the deck.
Mounting railings through decking
material is not recommended. Water
can seep down through the bolts
and into the wooden structure.
Other options for decks besides waterproofing them is to remove the old decking
material and installing planks made of 2x6 or 3x8 Douglas Fir, spaced 3/8" apart
(at this point the deck is no longer waterproof to the area below). Using
countersunk lag bolts, planks could be replaced easily in the future if needed. If
the waterproof deck covers a room in the house then this option is not possible
for obvious reasons. See an example here of 3x8 planks.
Here is a free standing pergola made to
hang plants from to help cover the old
wooden fence behind it. A brick platform
and brick planters were added to put potted
plants on or a fountain in the center area.
The three posts were made of steel.
This patio was created with long spans between posts,
about 17 feet. Although the footings were deeper with
more concrete to carry the load, the overall cost was less.
Another advantage to wide open spans is that it makes
the property look larger and you will have more room for
table and chairs. Lateral support (obtained with knee
braces) should always be considered when designing the
quantity of posts to be used. View of stone up close
Above is a 20" x 20" stone pillar with a 6x6 post attached
on top of it, rather than building the stone around the post.
If someday the wood post ever needed replacing, it would
be easy to unbolt and replace, rather than tearing down
the stone pillar and starting over. Our methods of building
are carefully thought out to give our customers the most for
their money and least maintenance as possible.
Often times there is a need to raise the ledger
board high as possible for head clearance,
and the fascia board needs special notching.
In the photo above we were able to raise the
rafters an extra 3 inches without compromising
the fascia's strength, which greatly helped the
height of the carrying beam on the opposite
side. If the ledger board is raised too high, it
won't be possible to drill out for bolts because
of the fascia blocking the drill motor.
If you have ever wondered if a patio post can be
installed out in the grass and not on the patio slab,
here is an example. If a patio slab is small and more
shade is needed because of the angle of the sun, it's
possible to pour a concrete footing out in the grass
area. We make sure the concrete footing is high
enough above the grass to prevent watering and
moisture damage. With this shade bar patio the sun will
still come through enough to provide enough light for
the grass to grow. The shade bars were made of 3x3's.
This patio cover above is another
example of a large beam span (distance
between posts) to keep an open feeling,
not cluttered with multiple posts. Careful
engineering and caution must be used
when calculating the carrying beam size
to not overload its capacity.
Here is another view of the long beam span
creating a great open feeling. The two posts were
made of 6x8's (turned sideways). The knee
braces were made of 6x8's, also. The four knee
braces are very important for structural strength,
laterally, to keep the patio cover from rocking and
possibly falling down in an earthquake. Special
engineering for the bolting of the knee braces is
also important. They also add beauty.
Here is a view of the front entry from the
inside. Large 6x8 knee braces provided
powerful lateral strength and gave a sense
of privacy. Low wattage lighting on the
posts added ambiance and security in the
Covered patios provide many advantages over open
shade bar patios. Maintenance will be less because
the solid roof will protect the wood and paint from the
sun and rain. Because of the shelter from the weather,
the patio area will be used more throughout the year.
Even ceiling fans will be more affordable than those
designed for wet locations (exposed to the outdoors).
Notice the two-tone colors on the 2x6 T&G spruce
ceiling and rafters.
Corbels, are the decorative ends on the rafters
seen here. They are cut with a portable band
saw that moves along the lumber, rather than
the lumber moving on the saw. The knee
braces are also cut in the same way. There are
many different patterns to choose from. We
build our patios to last. Heavy duty hardware,
saddles, bolts and hangers are always used to
prevent structural failure in the years to come.
In this photo above, you can see the old 2nd
story deck shored up temporarily, while we
had taken out the two supporting posts so we
could replace them with 8x8 posts at the
proper footing height. Great care must be
taken when shoring up existing structures for
remodeling or repairs.
This photo shows how the 2nd story deck
portion looks from the underside. We applied
2x6 T&G sheathing to the deck joists to
match the ceiling of the patio cover, then we
installed recessed LED lighting. 8x8 posts
were required for fire codes.
Here is an overall view of the 40'x16' patio cover and deck. The roof shingle was made of torch down (designed
for low-slope roofs) Bitumen Modified material in 39" strips. It's a heavy rubberized material with rock granules that
is installed with a hot torch to melt it down to a base sheet and also its overlapping seams. They last about 15
years on average and are easy to repair if damaged. Often times patio covers have low slope roofs which make
the torch down option a must. However, many HOA's insist that the patio roof match the house roof, which could
be concrete tile, which requires a minimum slope of 4:12. At that point the torch down needs to be applied first for
waterproofing, and then the concrete tile applied over the torch down just for aesthetics.
Outdoor living rooms with fireplaces and kitchens -
For those who can afford it, they are especially nice to own. The one featured here in these
photos is very large, measuring 18' deep x 36' wide, with many extras.
The main focal point is the stone fireplace in the center of the ridge. It is a great attraction to
sit in front of (even if there is no fire burning in the warm months) to make conversation or to
just relax. Because of the large covered roof there is room for lots of chairs and tables. A
large banquet table finds plenty of room to entertain during the holidays and parties.
Two 48" gas heaters were installed for comfort in the winter months. We attached them to the
roof, high enough from people below because they put out a lot of heat, as well as keeping a
proper distance from the ceiling above to prevent fire hazards. They operate with battery
powered remotes which have two settings.
Two ceiling fans were installed for light and cooling effect.
A three burner 36" wide built-in
BBQ was installed with a
stainless steel powerful exhaust
hood above it, venting away
Stainless steel drawers and
storage doors were installed for
keeping utensils, soaps and
Two refrigerators were installed
for beverages and meats to BBQ.
A stainless steel double sink,
with hot and cold running water,
and disposal, with reverse
osmosis was also installed to
complete the outdoor kitchen.
The large wooden mantle was
made from a 8x12 beam and
The fireplace was gas, ignited by
only flipping a switch. Although it
was vent-less, it put out plenty of
heat for a fireside chat.
The construction of this patio cover was very unique in its
structural nature. Instead of bracing the posts above with
regular knee bracing, we created a concrete beam under
ground called a "grade beam" that contained steel rebar,
then welded to vertical steel columns above to support the
beams. This method gives a clean look with intense lateral
strength. The construction cost is greater, but over time is
worth it because there is no worry of dry rot or termites.
Steel columns and grade beams are a great option in many
circumstances of building.
The wooden beams and ceiling planks were stained. The
concrete slab was colored slightly and stamped like granite
slabs of stone. The counter top was made of porcelain tile.
The cultured stone was from Eldorado. The plans and
designs were created by Christopher French.
Curtain Walls were built on ether
side of this solid patio cover to add
privacy and shelter from the elements.
It also makes a great place to mount a
sun shade (as in the photo below).
Most often the sides of a patio cover
with a pitched roof has a large open
triangle, exposed to the sun, wind,
glare and windows of neighbors homes
next door. For a little more privacy and
shelter, this customer chose to have
curtain walls built on the open ends of
their patio cover. It's called a curtain
wall because it hangs down from the
top, like a curtain.
Pull-down sun shades were mounted to both the curtain walls and eves
of this patio cover to block out the intense western sun in the late afternoon.
We noticed the curtain walls also gave the sense of being more in a room.
The sides of the curtain walls were made of James Hardy siding panels which
blended very nicely with the rest of the house.
Skylights were added (photo right) to give an extra dose of natural light.
Curtain walls can block out some of the natural lighting, but the skylights
made a nice difference and directed natural lighting back inside where
See more Patio Covers on page 2
This video helps explain one of the most common reasons why wood
posts are damaged by water. When trim boards are attached to the
bottom of the wood posts, moisture gets trapped between the trim and
the post. Even when chalking is applied, because of the expansion and
contraction, water seeps in and doesn’t dry out. Over time with
sprinklers, rain and morning due, wood begins to rot, and may even
attract termites. This video shows a home that also had the post
anchors rusted out.
In the video shown here, the home owner was fortunate because the
roof trusses cantilevered out over the bedroom wall and actually held
the porch beam up. We were grateful to notice this before damage had
occurred to the trusses or beam connections. New posts were installed
and the concrete footings were repaired.
We hope this will help extend the life of many patio covers in the future!
Thanks for watching.