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balcony renovation

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Bartley Residences: Designing the Perfect Balcony (Part 2)

There is something spectacular about stepping out of your living hall and onto a perfectly decked balcony that brings you comfort, relaxation, attractiveness, and most importantly, value to your home.

The soothing feeling of wood decking and artificial turf under my feet as I relax on my lounge chair and enjoy the pool view is easier than I think now. We’re glad to engage Absolut Outdoors to give our outdoor spaces a facelift.

Step 2: Design and Space Planning

[Read Step 1: Consultation Session] During my second meeting with Absolut Outdoors, they proposed their design based on what we’ve discussed in our first consultation session. Here are the 3D drawings from various perspectives.

Perspective View

3D drawing for balcony

3D drawing for balcony from Absolut Outdoors

We’re going to have an after-work husband-and-wife chillax corner, a kid’s outdoor play area (mini putting green), and a small garden (with hanging plants) in our front balcony with the size of 5m x 2m.

A combination of artificial green turf and wood-decking is very beautiful, so I certainly recommend it. Combining the chillax corner with kid’s play area, this idea is practical and low maintenance too. We love putting live plants to enhance the beauty of our balcony. A beautiful wall with hanging planters instantly brings us the ‘fresh garden vibes’ without wasting our precious floor space.

Balcony Idea 1 with live plants

We’ve chosen wood-plastic composite (WPC) because it’s more durable and requires less maintenance than natural wood. The colour is walnut, and I really like its natural and luxurious hardwood look, feel as well as texture.

Outdoor wood decking

Wood plastic composite

For the artificial turf, we’ll be using putting green (PG10-SF) for the putting area and bermuda grass (BG35-NF Fresh) on the outer curve of the putting area. Absolut Outdoors proposed this combination of turf to create a more “realistic” look for our putting green (we can also see the gradient here). The bermuda grass will stop the ball and prevent it from hitting against the wall. Edison is totally excited to see this.

Artificial Turf from Absolut OutdoorsWe chose the 2nd and 3rd artificial turf in this picture

For my master room balcony (approx. 1.5m x 2m), we will also lay WPC in walnut. And I intend to put an outdoor swing chair for my own relaxation here.

I took this opportunity to consult Absolut Outdoors on some important design and decking considerations that most new homeowners may have. Here’s sharing with you some important pointers that I’ve learnt from them and my own experience thus far.

1. Outdoor flooring options

In general, there are 7 types of outdoor flooring options – ceramic tiles, pebble wash, cement screed, natural wood, wood-plastic composite (WPC), artificial turf and outdoor rugs. Check out this article on Outdoor Flooring Options for Singapore Balconies and Balcony Planters for more details on each type of flooring options.

The original tiles in my balcony still look acceptable to me, albeit plain-looking. But I don’t think I’ll ever get down to my knees to scrub the tiles. My worst fear is when moulds started to grow in the grouts, and I’m so OCD, I’ll be very annoyed looking at it. Thus, laying wood decking is a must to me.

What’s the main difference between natural wood and WPC, you may ask. WPC is timber made of 100% recycled plastic and wood materials. It’s widely used in outdoor decking nowadays because it’s more environmentally-friendly and requires less maintenance than solid wood. As this is a processed wood, it does not have the natural weakness of solid timber (i.e. warping, splitting and cracks), making it a durable product that is sure to last.

I also love to have a lot of “greens” in my house, which is why I choose artificial turf. Contrary to misconception that artificial turf is difficult to clean, it’s actually pretty easy to maintain. Just vacuum it using a vacuum cleaner or spray it with a hose to remove dust and other small debris that have accumulated between the grass fibres.

Artificial Turf Structure

Beneath the artificial turf, there’s a layer of high-quality fibres (white layer) that acts as a backing system and an AirDrain System (the black plastic pockets that you see in the picture) that provides rapid water drainage to prevent surface ponding.

2. Design and space planning

To design your outdoor space, take into considerations: 1) usage and function of your outdoor areas, 2) colour options, 3) size, 4) safety and child-friendliness, 5) amount of sunlight and rain you’ll be getting, 6) outdoor furniture, and 7) lighting.

The first and most important question to ask is – What do you intend to use your outdoor space for? An after-work chill corner, reading, kid’s play area, gardening, alfresco dining, relaxation, exercising, storage, or simply hanging your laundries (I gotta be honest!). From there, take into considerations the other factors I’ve listed above.

Read this article on 6 Balcony and Roof Terrace Space Planning Tips for useful tips on designing your outdoor space.

3. Maintenance fees to upkeep

Be realistic, nothing is completely maintenance-free. For WPC, it’s recommended to do a protective coat re-varnishing every 2 years to maintain its glossy look. Do check on the maintenance fees and procedures with your vendor before deciding on your decking options.

4. Installation process, warranty period from vendor, and guidelines from developer

Every developer has their own rules and regulations for outdoor space renovation. Be sure to check your resident’s handbook before you start renovating your outdoor spaces.

I can’t emphasize the importance of engaging a reliable and experienced vendor to carry-out your outdoor renovation works. Be sure to check on their warranty period as well as installation process. I understand that there are various decking installation processes – they can be a permanent fixture, semi-permanent or removable.

5. Budget

Lastly, setting a budget is the most important part of your renovation. Price everything out first, stay within your means, and maximize the most out of your budget. Bear in mind that most interior design companies outsource the “non-core” works like wood decking and painting to other vendors. You may be able to save some costs by engaging a vendor directly to carry-out your outdoor decking, rather than paying a mark-up price to your ID.

We engage Absolut Outdoors because we feel that they’re truly the specialist in this area, and they’re able to incorporate many interesting outdoor design ideas for us. Most importantly, they are really nice people to work with. They take pride in their works and it shows in their past projects.

Will share more details in Part 3 when we start our balcony renovation. Please stay tuned.

Related Post: Designing the Perfect Balcony (Part 1)

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