Fun, Easy Patio Project: Would Like Input

Discussion in 'Decks & Patios' started by Msupsic, Aug 26, 2014.

  1. Aug 26, 2014 #1

    Msupsic

    Msupsic

    Msupsic

    Marc S.

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    Hi All,

    I've got a fun little patio project that shouldn't be too hard to execute. Please see attached images.

    As you can see, our patio is raised up about 3' and built of stone and slate.

    I want to visually define the living space by adding a string of suspended lights around the perimeter.

    The challenge is that my wife (gotta love her) doesn't want poles in the way of the view. So I'm thinking to use just two pieces of 4 x 4 pressure-treated on each corner to do the job.

    My main concern is that the string of lights will sag along the 35' length. So I thought maybe I could string a cable with some turnbuckles between the two poles to give the lights some support.

    How can I prevent the tension on the two poles from pulling inward over time, and eventually bending them?

    Thanks,
    Marc

    patio5.jpg

    patio_lights5.jpg

    Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 10.57.42 AM.jpg
     
  2. Aug 26, 2014 #2

    CallMeVilla

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    Nice challenge ... I would not use wood. It is organic and subject to weather. While it might seem odd, I would consider a metal-wood combination.

    Check for a metal supplier and obtain an aluminum I-beam for your corners. You can attach the cable and turnbuckle to this and get the tension you want without worrying about future sagging. The look can be softened by bolting wood in the web spaces which can be stained or painted. An additional benefit is that the aluminum will not rot in the ground, preventing maintenance issues later.

    ALUM_I-BEAM_AS_066_3000.jpg
     
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  3. Aug 27, 2014 #3

    slownsteady

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    1) a deep and sturdy base for the poles. 12' of height might need a 16' board.
    2) 'knee-braced' against the sides of the patio as in your illustration
    3) guy wires to counter the pull of the turnbuckles. (effective but potentially awkward)
    4) if your yard is wooded, you could fly the lights from the trees

    edit: I like your photoshop work here. made me look twice
     
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  4. Aug 27, 2014 #4

    nealtw

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  5. Aug 27, 2014 #5

    bud16415

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    I don’t like to bring up the subject but what does your local building code have to say about a patio of that height and stairs without rails. The reason I bring it up I just built a deck around the same height and during construction I was enjoying it without the railings and like you I loved the openness of the space with the views. I also knew both code and our insurance carrier required more.

    A couple weeks ago I toured the Frank Lloyd Wright House Falling Water and noticed the cantilevered decks that were 30 foot above the rocks below had rails barely to my knees and the public was allowed out on them with a warning first to watch your kids. I asked if this famous house could be built today with the codes and got an eye roll and most likely not was the answer. I assumed it was allowed because of what it is. But was really surprised that the center you come to before the house had an expanse of high decks that had just a single cable strung about 3 foot up. I’m not sure how they got away with that as little kids running around were under 3 foot high.

    My deck by code had to have spindles spaced with 3.5” between them.

    Getting back to your request. Check out a tractor supply store near you or a local feed mill or such. Ask about high tension fencing. It’s becoming really common for farmers and it has all the parts you will need.
     
  6. Aug 27, 2014 #6

    beachguy005

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    Frankly, I wouldn't use a PT 4x4 because in a matter of a few days it will twist and bend. If anything I would use a 6x6x16'. Set in a good concrete base. I might even add 2- 6x6 legs, mounted at 45 degrees, attached about deck height and and buried in the ground, one running in front of the deck and one toward the house. You'll have a sort of tripod in a timber framed style. Paint to match the house.
     
  7. Aug 27, 2014 #7

    Msupsic

    Msupsic

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    Marc S.

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    @bud, Funny you mention that... we're in PA and the original owner of our home toured Falling Water and was inspired by it when he built this back in '46. I'm assuming the patio was built around then, so it gets grandfathered around modern code?
     
  8. Aug 27, 2014 #8

    slownsteady

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    You're going to run into conflict between the need for sturdy support vs. the whole obstructed view thing (
    ) Perhaps you'll get more strength with less bulk from tubular metal poles. But I do like the plant hooks on the posts. Have two of those myself.
     
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  9. Aug 27, 2014 #9

    Msupsic

    Msupsic

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    Marc S.

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    Thanks, I'm a graphic designer by trade, so it helps to be able to mock things up. Helps the wife visualize things and gives her less to disagree with ;)
     
  10. Aug 27, 2014 #10

    Msupsic

    Msupsic

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    Marc S.

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    This was the original idea, BTW. While it definitely eases the tension between poles, it apparently increases the tension between spouses :) She likes her view of the backyard and doesn't quite see the need for so many. It's a compromise.

    patio_lights2.jpg
     
  11. Aug 27, 2014 #11

    slownsteady

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    I'm trying to think of a way to rig a center support that starts from the house....a wire leading out to a tree? then hang a a line down to the center of the lights. I know this isn't ideal but maybe someone can improve the thought.

    At some point, the solution becomes more elaborate than the original plan. But hey, they're all just ideas.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2014
  12. Aug 27, 2014 #12

    Msupsic

    Msupsic

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    Marc S.

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    Nothing wrong with brainstorming... it leads to better ideas!

    We're both tree huggers at heart, so I'm not sure how I feel about mounting anything to a tree or causing any potential damage to trees. Besides, with the ice we've been having there's a good chance our trees may not be there next year. We lost a lot of wood last February.

    I thought about galvanized metal poles, like the kind people use to string up clothes lines. Not as attractive, but I'm sure we can also add plant hooks somehow. Put adjustable aluminum straps around the pole and clamp the hangers on.

    Keep the ideas coming. Thanks for the help!
     
  13. Aug 27, 2014 #13

    bud16415

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    Setting codes and insurance loss prevention agents aside and all practicality involved when you pose a question to a group of people involved in building things good and strong where more is better.

    Now with knowing the original design was inspired by FLW and his “organic” style and the “usonian” concept of architecture. And having been to several of his homes as of late and a few years ago spent some time at his Taliesin West studio and school. I’m viewing this in a different light and not as much as a structural project but as an artistic inspiration dealing with structure. So I asked the question.

    What would FLW do? Or if we get it made on a bumper sticker (WWFLWD)

    If you go to Falling Water there is the main house that everyone knows about and behind it is the guest house many have never seen much. It sits up on the hill behind the house and you cross a bridge of sorts walking up stairs that curve as they rise. The roof above is a tension structure of sorts that’s folded as it curves and drives all the forces of the weight of it to one side of the curve the poles that hold it up look to be just structural square box tubing I think but they are a color to blend to the surroundings, they are thinner than you would think and have welded on ornamentation that breaks the line like leaves on a branch. The idea of transferring the force and disguising post come from FLR the artistic use of the plant hangers attached to the poles I see came from our OP Marc. Slownsteady gave us the idea of using nature (trees) to hold the wires. I then started drawing on some idea from another favorite of mine Buckminster Fuller the father of the geodesic domes and other great inventions. Putting this all together in my mind and now knowing Marc is a graphic designer and has the equipment to illustrate what I want him to envision not my vision but his inspired by my thoughts on this.

    I’m seeing a sturdy footing embedded in the ground and out of vision much like the roots of a tree we don’t see but hold all the mass of the tree. Attached to this base will be a structure that looks much too frail to do the job but gets its strength by having a camber built into it. A curve away from the deck corner at a 45 degree angle that when the forces of the wire pull on it the spring in the structure will pull back. I see it to be a slender sapling made from iron work with several branches bowing out that planter baskets could hang from in the summer and in the winter they would just be branches again. I personally like the curve of a catenary arc (more natural found in nature)and wouldn’t want the wires drawn banjo tight. I see the wires almost invisible and the lights to be just pinpoints of light. Maybe low voltage fine wire lighting.

    You have such a natural setting I feel the posts should mimic nature. I’m sure a local blacksmith would take on such a project with a proper design. Most blacksmiths now a days don’t shoe horses and make barrel hoops they do decorative iron work and many hammer out leaves routinely.

    Well that’s what happens when I stay in at lunch with nothing to think about. Let me know if I inspired the artist in you.
     
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  14. Aug 27, 2014 #14

    slownsteady

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    Let's back up for a second. A string of light isn't very heavy. If you have a line to support them, it doesn't have to have much tension on it to do the job. Assuming that you can live with a little drape in the line, the turnbuckles are not even necessary. Just fasten the lights to the the support wire every few feet and they will support each other. the total sag will be evenly distributed into a series of small curves (drapes).
     
  15. Aug 28, 2014 #15

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    Just put it up the way the wife wants it, what's wrong with you guys. Wives alway know best. Come back when she wants it fixed.:clap:
     
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  16. Aug 28, 2014 #16

    oldognewtrick

    oldognewtrick

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    I think we have a winner!
     
  17. Aug 28, 2014 #17

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    Sure and the prize will that boat that inspector shot a hole in.
     
  18. Aug 28, 2014 #18

    oldognewtrick

    oldognewtrick

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    I'll send it to you. Go out and stand by the mailbox cause you've got mail.
     
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  19. Aug 28, 2014 #19

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    I'll just fix it with a screen door and a little spray stuff.
     
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  20. Aug 28, 2014 #20

    Msupsic

    Msupsic

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    Marc S.

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    @bud: Custom-wrought tree sculptures! That's quite the idea you have there... not bad, either, but something tells me, I may need to take out a line of credit from the bank for those babies :D What would be great is to find some old lamp posts at an antique shop.

    @slownsteady, I think you're right, it's probably much simpler than we're making it out to be. But it's fun to brainstorm.

    The funny thing about wifey is that once I do the job, she always gets it. Like last year when I hung a cieling fan in our living room. She didn't see the need for it. Until the first hot day we had. Now she loves the cieling fan.

    Some people just don't have, "The Shine." They don't have vision.
     

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