Outdoor Living: Creating Comfort for a Courtyard Patio

This week, we’re helping a couple update and add some comfort to their spacious courtyard patio.

This mid-century house belongs to Denna and Dale Fortner, who recently bought it to begin enjoying retirement. The couple has a great patio already, but it needs some shade and a few repairs.

Seal a Brick Patio

First, we mix up some mortar and begin laying brick pavers in the void where a fire pit used to sit.

Before we finish the patio repair, we coat the bricks with Grout Release from Custom Building Products. This material keeps the mortar from sticking to the surface of the bricks.

Then, we use a Grout Bag to inject mortar between the bricks, before we smooth it off with a trowel.

Build a Pergola

Next, Chelsea and I get started on the pergola. The first chore is laying out the pattern and making decorative cuts on the end of each board.

Overnight, Denna and Dale stain the lumber for the pergola, so once the layout is complete, I start digging the post holes.

To match the height of the second post, I tape a level to a board, so we can transfer the elevation from the first post. 

By pulling a line level from each post to the roof, we can determine the length and angle at which to cut that end of each beam.

Then, Bear reinforces the beams with lag bolts and installs the patio roof riser brackets to secure the pergola beams to the roof.

Install a Shade Sail on Pergola

One nice twist to this project is the shade sail. Rather than add wood joists overhead for the pergola, we install a shade sail, an increasingly popular alternative.

Chelsea installs eye hooks for our shade sail, and we secure the sail with steel cables to the four corners of the pergola.

Watch Shade Sail: Affordable, Luxurious Protection for Your Patiofor more information on this project.

Install Wizard Screens

The crew arrives to install the Wizard RetractaView Screens, which will keep bugs out of this home while allowing Denna and Dale to still enjoy a patio view even while indoors.

The housing that holds the screen is mounted on one side of the doorway. Then, tracks are attached along the bottom and top of the opening to guide the screen as it rolls across the space, while a latch on the other side holds it in place.

Create a Rain Diverter

Finally, we’re adding a rain diverter to make sure heavy downpours don’t end up on Denna or Dale if they happen to open the back door.

We cut the rain diverter to size and etch the galvanized metal with white vinegar before painting it to match the roof.

Then we use a flat pry bar to pry up the bottom edge of a row of shingles. Then, we slide the diverter under the row of shingles and secure it with roofing tacks.

Lastly, we apply roofing cement along the metal to seal the shingle tabs to the top of it.

Watch, “How to Install a Rain Diverter” for the complete step-by-step guide.

We also:

  • planted new plants
  • pressure washed brick exterior

Post Production Thoughts

Despite the trees in their yard, Dale and Denna’s patio got no shade at all. The tree-ring turned fire pit was taking up valuable floor space, splashing rain was rotting the door trim and the patio was in sore need of cleaning.

Now, there’s shade in abundance, thanks to our new pergola and shade sail. Plus, the pergola adds loads of character to the space with its contrasting warm wood.

All the doors that encircle the patio have been repaired and upgraded with retractable screens, which allow the area to become an extension of the home’s interior. And now, those entryways are protected from splashing rain by the diverters overhead.

Of course, cleaning the patio improved its appearance, but paving over the old tree ring opened up the floor space to make room for entertaining.

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Further Reading


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