Follow a Backyard Transformation – Construction

The project is underway! The Simoneaux family of Covington, La have been eagerly awaiting this moment for years – a new front entry, pool patio additions, and a new Belgard Elements bar and grill station from the Bristol Collection. After initial planning, meetings with designer Mike Miles with the Belgard Elements Collection and Harmony Outdoor Living and contractor Rod Trahan of La Pavers, the project was ready to start. “It’s been quite a production! There are vehicles of all shapes and sizes for two blocks,” Christi Simoneaux reports. The plumber and electrician were on site to run lines for the new items.

Cutting existing concrete

First, the area was excavated, which included removing seven inches of top-soil for the pavers, as well as several sections of existing concrete. One area of concrete was over 10 inches thick, requiring use of a jack-hammer and a hydraulic concrete breaker. “It was somewhat surreal to see this huge piece of equipment right outside my living room window. But before I knew it, the concrete was gone and hauled away,” said Simoneaux.

The next step was to install the patio areas, which is a multi-layer process. First, black felt is rolled out to cover the bottom of the excavated dirt areas. Next, a bed of limestone is shoveled in and compacted, followed by a layer of sand that is leveled and compacted.

Black Felt
Black Felt
Leveling sand
Compacting Sand

Finally, the pavers were laid and cut to fit the design. This project included Belgard’s Mega Lafitt® pavers edged by Belgard Old World pavers. Once the pavers were in place, polymeric sand was brushed into the crevices and activated with water to form grout lines.

Cutting to fit
Polymeric Sand

With the patios complete, next came the Elements Bristol Collection bar and grill station.

Concrete Slab for the bar/grill

The bar arrives pre-manufactured in three pieces. Once placed into position, they are ready for use, as opposed to a multi-day on-site construction. “We chose the Elements for their ease of installation. Not only does it save a lot of time and headache, it also saves money on installation costs,” Christi said.

Even though the access to the backyard was very tight, and the space was limited due to the pool and porch overhang, La Pavers’ installers didn’t miss a step. “Installing the bar was a well-choreographed dance… up an inch, lower an inch, to the right a half inch, raise a quarter inch, now back up again.  There were three pieces, and it took about two hours to set them in place. Compared to the two weeks it would have taken to build it in place, I have no complaints,” Christi said.

Installation of the 3-piece bar/grill

After three days of work, the installation is mostly complete. Day four brings the appliances and plantings. “I feel like I live in a resort now. All my friends keep asking what time the party starts,” Christi jokes. “I think we’re going to plan a get-together for next weekend, but for now our family is enjoying our own private getaway, right in the back yard.”

Contact an Authorized Belgard Dealer for more information. Download a pdf catalog of the Elements Collections.

Next up – Completed project.

Follow a Backyard Transformation – Planning

When you purchase or build a new home, you add special touches to make it your own. When Pierre and Christi Simoneaux bought their new home six years ago in Covington, La., they had renovation plans which included adding hardscapes, gardens, and the piece de resistance, an outdoor entertainment area.

Photos before installation
A transformation is about to occur

“To keep  everything within a budget, the initial plan was to ‘phase out’ the project over years – the patio, then the bar, then a built-in grill,” said Christi Simoneaux. “But Belgard’s Preferred Payment Plan let us spread the payments out over several months with no interest, which allowed us to complete the project all at one time.”

Belgard’s Design Pro 3-D rendering of the new bar area

Using Belgard’s website, the Simoneauxs were able to see various options and make initial decisions that fit their style. They loved the look of the Belgard Elements Collection, as well as a variety of pavers. Loaded with an arsenal of ideas, and having located a local Belgard Authorized Dealer from the “dealer locator” on the website, the next step was to design the space.

The couple submitted some photos of their backyard, along with some rough sketches of ideas. Using Belgard’s Design Studio, Mike Miles, designer with the Belgard Elements Collection and Harmony Outdoor Living, was able to provide a 3-D rendering of their plans.

Outdoor Seating Area by the Pool

“I honestly couldn’t believe how realistic the drawings looked, down to the color of my shutters and the shape of my pool,” said Simoneaux. “We were able to see exactly how the pavers and Elements would look, and even made a number of changes to the design that we wouldn’t have realized were needed if we hadn’t had these renderings. Some of what we pictured in our heads would not have worked well in real life. Thanks to the 3-D drawings, we saved ourselves a lot of potential heartache.”

Once the design was finalized, Jim Stone Co., the local Belgard dealer, recommended two Authorized Belgard Installers to bid on the job. Their chosen contractor, Rod Trahan with La Pavers,  then brought samples to their home to finalize the product selection. “Seeing the product in the environment helped us make final choices,” said Simoneaux. “They took some measurements to plan access and confirm placement of everything, and we were on our way to our new backyard.”

Rendering of the Entry Way

With the finances finalized and the products chosen, the installation is set to begin. The use of Belgard’s Elements reduces the project time-line immensely. It would typically take weeks for a similar installation built from the ground up. By using the Elements Collection, the time-line for the Simoneaux family is reduced to three days. “Belgard Elements are built in modules in the factory and shipped on a pallet, already constructed,” said Trahan. “The first day will be prep work, the second day is installation, and the final day is finishing details.”

Follow the Simoneaux installation on this blog.

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Wall Seats and Decor

Seating area overlooking the garden. Belair Wall

A beautiful backyard will naturally draw people to the outdoors. Yet, once they are there, if there is no place to sit and relax, they may turn around and head back inside. The remedy? Outdoor seating. Even the most appealing backyards are incomplete without seating. Creating an permanent seating area will invitingly draw your guests to a particular spot in the garden or to an enjoyable backyard feature, such as a fire pit, fire place, or swimming pool.

Belgard’s diverse range of wall products makes your hardscape seating options practically limitless.  For example, BelAir Wall™ is an ideal solution for residential and light commercial retaining and  free-standing wall construction where pleasing aesthetics are a key consideration. The attractive multi-piece design (= endless pattern options) and blended colors offer an alternative look. The design of this easy-to-use product allows for straight lines, sweeping curves and right angles. Matching caps provide ideal seating areas.

Seating around a water feature using Celtik Wall

Another excellent option is Celtik Wall™. Belgard’s twentieth-century interpretation of ancient wall stone, Celtik Wall offers timeless elegance combined with modern durability and  ease-of-maintenance. Celtik Wall’s design flexibility makes it ideal for any number of uses — encircling greenery, partitioning property, accenting light posts, or simply creating accent walls with rugged, romantic appeal.

Ideas for Seating

    • Retaining walls – build them to seating height. Belgard offers many cap toppers to create a matching, cohesive appearance.
Seat in a wall. Celtik Wall
  • Around a feature – when adding a fire pit or water feature, use a topped wall to allow company to sit and enjoy the elements.
  • Create a new space – use a wall to divide spaces and create a gathering area. The wall can serve double duty by providing seating for both areas.
  • Garden borders – add a wall to border a garden, creating a relaxing seating area to enjoy the flowers.
  • Tall walls – create surface areas that project from higher walls to create additional seating.

More Than Hardscapes

To create even more interest in your outdoor room, add a splash of color and texture by using pillows and cushions. There are many fabrics specially made for the outdoor elements. When selecting items, consider the color of both your hardscapes and surroundings.

Bright colors and lively motifs create fun in a space. Blues and greens can be soothing and coordinate with a pool and nature. Earth tones add a serene feeling when they blend with the surrounding vista. Be sure to coordinate your outdoor colors to compliment those inside if they are being seen through glass doors and windows.

Colorful pillows make an area fun. Celtik Wall

Although outdoor fabrics are durable, you will want to make sure they receive adequate drainage and drying after a rain. Take them in during the freezing of the winter, especially if there is moisture present. If you see stains or mold, remove and treat immediately.

When you are purchasing fabrics, make sure they are fade-free, repel water, mold/mildew resistant, stain repelling, have full color threads (not a pattern printed on the fabric), and of course, soft.

All photos use Belgard products. Belgard offers a variety of natural, smooth-step pavers and rough-hewn  textured wall systems that provide a time-honed appearance reminiscent  of the gardens of Old Europe. However, they’re the product of thoroughly modern manufacturing, engineered with precise dimensional consistency  for easy installation. Visit our website for more ideas.

Belgard Products Featured in IBS Show Homes


The New American Home
The New American Home in Orlando. Photo by James F. Wilson for NAHB.

Belgard® Environmental Collection permeable pavers are featured in the fabulous Greek Revival style “The New American Home” (TNAH 2011), the official show home of the National Association of Home Builders, open for tours this week to attendees of the International Builder’s Show 2011 (IBS 2011) in Orlando, FL.

Located a short shuttle bus ride from the IBS 2011, the home incorporates over 1,700 square feet of Belgard’s Eco-Holland Slate permeable pavers and 480 square feet of the Eco-Holland Charcoal permeable pavers. Permeable pavers allow rainwater to be absorbed into the ground, virtually eliminating destructive run off, potentially removing the need for retention ponds and underground sewer pipes. In addition, they contribute to LEED certification credits.

Eco Holland

Belgard Products Featured in IBS 2011 Homes
Available in a variety of colors, Eco-Holland can be laid out in numerous architectural designs, offering design flexibility and adding value to residential and commercial properties. Eco-Holland permeable pavers benefit the environment and have the strength to withstand both vehicular traffic and harsh weather conditions. Plus, they are ADA Compliant. Visit the Belgard website to learn more information on the entire Environmental Collection.

The New American Home
Featuring the latest in building products and innovative construction technologies, the home will be visited by industry professionals from across the globe. TNAH 2011 was certified by the National Green Building Standard with Emerald Status, the highest of the four levels of achievement in resource efficiency that the NAHB Research Center recognizes. Tours are available through Saturday, 1/15. Visit the show website for a schedule.

The Vision and ReVision Homes
Also in Orlando are the Vision and ReVision Homes, two ultra-energy-efficient homes featuring Belgard products. Shuttles from the IBS to both homes begin at 10am and last departure from the homes: 1/13 departs at 3pm; 1/14 departs at 4pm; 1/15 departs at 1:30pm.

Energy Efficiency & Environmental Solutions for Today’s Economy

ReVision House™ and Vision House Show Off Belgard® Products

Are you remodeling or starting new construction? Are energy efficiency and environmental impacts a concern for your next project?

Belgard Hardscapes and Suretouch® Veneer Systems, two product lines of Oldcastle Architectural Products, were selected to play a major role in Greenbuider Magazine’s ReVision House and Vision House (Orlando) demonstration homes, and are available for your projects.

Belgard pavers and Suretouch masonry are integrated into the homes, which are built with site-specific solutions for key green building issues.

ReVision Home
The ReVISION House will feature Oldcastle’s Suretouch masonry on the outside and Belgard’s concrete patio pavers and driveway pavers from the Environmental Collection. Photo Courtesy of Green Builder Magazine.  

Suretouch Veneer System

The ReVision House will be retro-fitted with Oldcastle Masonry’s newest product, Suretouch. The patented veneering system, with an insulation factor of R-13.5, creates a more energy efficient and acoustically comfortable environment. The system’s simple installation process is available in both concrete masonry stone and clay brick options, creating a beautiful exterior in a fraction of the time.

Eco Dublin

Belgard Permeable Pavers


Belgard’s Environmental Collection products, Subterra and Eco Dublin, in driveway and patio pavers perform at more than five times 100-year storm standards. These concrete pavers are spaced to allow rainwater to absorb into the ground, thus reducing runoff, filtering impurities, and improving drainage.

These  natural looking concrete pavers are durable enough for vehicular traffic and attractive to use, giving your project the benefits of green without compromising beauty and style.

Home Tours

Home tours of both ultra-energy-efficient homes will be conducted at the upcoming NAHB International Builders’ Show to be held in Orlando January 12-15.

Shuttles start at 10am and depart the homes at the following times:

1/12 departs at 4pm; 1/13 departs at 3pm; 1/14 departs at 4pm; 1/15 departs at 1:30pm

About the Homes: The ReVision House project, a deep energy retrofit, remodels an existing home that is currently below current new-construction standards for energy efficiency to not only meet current standards, but to outperform them by a whopping 70%. The Vision House project is completely new construction with realistic, sustainable construction ideas. Both projects provide real, cost-effective, sustainable solutions that are appropriate for today’s economy. And Belgard plays a key role.

Belgard Introduces: Urbana 60mm

A recent addition to Belgard’s Natural Collection, Urbana 60mm offers the look of clean-cut stone with a natural appearance. Urbana 60mm is available in a three-piece modular system created for maximum versatility. An optional large square is also available that adds a broader range of shapes and an even grander scale. This new product’s 60mm thickness makes it an ideal choice for patios, walkways and pool decks. The Urbana collection’s chiseled textures and contours combine with its random shapes and patterns to recall the look and feel of vintage cut stone.

“Urbana 60mm is a product that was literally made in response to direct feedback and requests from our customers,” says Belgard’s Vice President, Ken O’Neill. “Urbana has become increasingly popular in patio applications, and this 60mm product provides a more versatile solution. The look and ease of installation has not changed at all with the transition to 60mm.”

“In addition, creation of this product is another act of environmental stewardship on behalf of Belgard. A 60mm product reduces the amount of cement and aggregates needed to make the product and requires less energy to ship.”

Belgard’s Natural Collection features several paver styles, each crafted with uniquely contoured surfaces to create a truly organic look and feel. It’s the ambience of natural stone paired with the unmatched quality, consistency and durability homeowners have come to expect from America’s premier hardscapes manufacturer.