Outdoor Living at Its Best

The Lipfords’ back porch before the transformation.

Watch Full Episode

In the 25 years since we built our house, my wife, Sharon, and I had made piecemeal improvements to the backyard, like adding a pool, fountain, pergola and privacy fence. But, over the years things had fallen into disrepair, and the space was never really what we envisioned.

This time we decided to go all out and do things the right way, giving me my dream outdoor kitchen and Sharon the outdoor living area she’s always wanted. Our back patio renovation included:

  • Extending the porch roof to cover the outdoor kitchen
  • Building brick cabinets and concrete countertops
  • Equipping the outdoor kitchen with a gas grill, vent hood and refrigerator
  • Installing retractable screens and folding patio doors
  • Building a new wood privacy fence
  • Refinishing existing patio furniture
  • Adding landscaping and lighting to unify the back yard

Watch our 4-part Outdoor Living web series for details on all of these projects.

Pouring Concrete Countertops

pouring concrete in melamine forms

Danny pours the concrete mix into the melamine forms as Allen spreads the mix evenly.

The forms are made from melamine with rebar for reinforcement.

The forms are made from melamine with rebar for reinforcement.

First, we built the forms for the concrete countertops from sheets of melamine. The plastic coating gives the concrete a smooth finish and releases pretty easily when it’s dry. Next, we added wire mesh and rebar inside the forms to reinforce the concrete. Tiny wires tied off to screws on the edge of the forms keep the metal in the center of the space so it won’t be visible on any of the slab surfaces.

To reduce some of the work and ensure a better mix, we rented a mixer to mix the concrete. We used Quikrete’s Countertop Mix because its formula reduces shrinkage and includes plasticizers that help it flow into the forms more smoothly. As the forms fill up, tapping the sides breaks up air pockets and causes them to rise to the surface. Then, we waited a week for them to dry.

After applying some fast setting polyurethane construction adhesive to the tops of the cabinets, we set the counters in place and removed the inside forms that created cut-outs for the sink and the smoker. To get the surface perfectly smooth, we changed the diamond pads on a wet polisher to finer and finer grits, from 400 to 800 to 1500. Once the countertops were fully cured after 30 days, we sealed them with a concrete sealer.

Watch How to Make a DIY Concrete Countertop for more info.

croncrete countertops

Once sanded and sealed, the concrete countertops are smooth and sleek.

Building a New Fence

New fence

A new 8-foot privacy fence replaces the old dilapidated fence.

crew working on building a fence

The crew works on building the new fence.

For a fencing project of this scale, I brought in a crew from my remodeling company, Lipford Construction. Their first chore was setting the 6×6 posts that anchor the fence. They dug 3-foot deep holes with an auger, which saved work and sped things up. But one of the most important things they did was lay the holes out along a line marked with a string, ensuring that each stretch of fencing was in a perfectly straight line.

The other important factor is using treated wood that is rated for “ground contact,” so they can withstand a greater threat from moisture and pests. As each post went into place, it was leveled and braced so that once the fast-setting concrete was mixed in the hole, there wouldn’t be any movement.

When all the posts were dry and connected together by 2×4 stringers, the vertical pieces of 1×8 went in place. When each section was complete, they chalked a line between the end boards and cut the middle boards to match. This way the slope of the fence followed the hill with a clean straight line. 2x6s were nailed on top of each section so they were centered on the stringer and flush with the 6×6 on each end. Beneath the 2×6 and just above the dirt, each panel was framed in with horizontal 1x6s. Finally, as a finishing touch we added copper caps to the posts.

Watch How to Build a Wood Privacy Fence in Your Yard for more info.

The new folding door creates a seamless transition from the indoor and outdoor dining areas.

The new folding door creates a seamless transition from the indoor and outdoor dining areas.

Vendors & Products from This Episode

W’d like to recognize the vendors and products that helped bring our outdoor living space to life:

  • Retractable patio screens from Phantom Screens
  • Treated pine for fence from YellaWood
  • Design by Catherine Arensberg of Azalea Street Designs
  • Overture folding door from Energi Fenestration Solutions
  • Grill, side burner and cabinet doors by Napoleon
  • Lighting and fan from Lamps Plus
  • Materials for concrete countertops from Quikrete
  • Vent hood from Broan
  • Haven landscape lighting by NuTone
Outdoor kitchen

The outdoor kitchen features a stainless steel grill and vent hood.

Other Tips from This Episode

tablecloth with tarp clip and bungee cord

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Tip for Keeping Tablecloths from Blowing Away

How do you keep a tablecloth from blowing away on a windy day? This tip uses tarp clips and small bungee cords. Watch video.

Nexgrill Evolution grill

Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Nexgrill Evolution 5-Burner Gas Grill

Nexgrill’s Evolution 5-burner stainless steel gas grill features a large surface area, side burner, and infrared technology for ultimate grilling control. It is available at The Home Depot. Watch video.

water on wood deck

Ask Danny Lipford:
When to Seal or Stain Pressure-Treated Wood

It’s important to finish typical pressure-treated wood after completion of a deck in order to protect it. But, when is the best time to seal or stain it? Watch video.


Please Leave a Comment

4 Comments on “Outdoor Living at Its Best”

You can follow comments to this article by subscribing to the RSS news feed with your favorite feed reader.

  • jennifer Says:
    September 5th, 2016 at 3:24 am

    I to start with my kitchen. I want to remodel my kitchen. I don’t want cabinets. I want to put shelves. Just need help. I am disabled. So I can only do so much.

  • Bryan and karla sewell Says:
    July 7th, 2016 at 9:57 am

    We have a home in ross wood subdivision.it needs major updating. Can you help? Would love to feature it on a tv show. Karla sewell

  • Official Comment:

    Lindsay Hughes Says:
    July 5th, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Janet, you can check out detailed videos in our 4-part Outdoor Living web series at: http://livezoner41.info/outdoorliving/

  • Janet Says:
    July 2nd, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Wow! My husband and I love this episode. This is exactly step-by-step what we want to do on our outside patio deck on the terrace level. Thank you so much. Is there anyway we can get a video of this show?

We want to hear from you! In addition to posting comments on articles and videos, you can also send your comments and questions to us on our contact page or at (800) 946-4420. While we can't answer them all, we may use your question on our Today's Homeowner radio or TV show, or online at livezoner41.info.

Outdoor Living at Its Best