In the News!


November 20, 2015

Create Outdoor Cooking Spaces for Year–Round Enjoyment

Skip the burger on the grill. Get ready for large gatherings of family and friends with these simple but impressive spaces. Whether have a small or large backyard space that can accommodate large groups the desire for year round dining or entertaining outdoors year round is sometime not available due to weather. By creating a space and adding some type of pergola it now becomes an area of enjoyment year round. No worries of rain to hold you back.

Entertaining and cooking outdoors is very relaxing and enjoyable. When paired with friends - even better. By using our AB Courtyard products, to create an outdoor bar or full kitchen area that works with your space, is an easy addition to any patio. Using the bar as part of the foundation for your pergola is a great design idea that works well and secures the project together. Then all that’s left is to decide on a countertop for the bar, decorate with furniture and send out the invites. Check out some of the bar layout ideas that could work for your new outdoor space. 

November 13, 2015

Tackling Your Slope with Terraces

Steep hillsides, because of their nature, are often times very hard to manage. Terracing can improve the safety of a slope while adding an aesthetic and economic value to a property.

Taking your slopes and turning them into something extraordinary with beautiful gardens and planting areas can be accomplished with building multiple walls. Think of a terraced slope as building very large steps up a hill. Each of these new steps can be created to be planting areas. This will add a softer look to a hillside and allows rainwater to soak into the hill watering the plants instead of just running down the slope.

Terraces should be properly built and constructed to ensure a lifetime of use. Multiple walls will act as surcharges on the bottom walls so an engineering review is recommended. Water runoff or draining down the wall improperly will also need to be evaluated as heavy wet soil will cause erosion or worse; a possible wall failure.

A general rule of thumb when building terraces is if the distance between the walls is less than two times the height of the lower wall, the upper wall could be putting pressure on the lower wall and reinforcement may be necessary.

When the need arises where a large wall is needed to retain a slope, consider making it a terrace by adding multiple walls. Then add in a flowing stairway to elevate your architectural style and add even more visual appeal. 

November 6, 2015

Salt Kills Concrete

Maybe you have a concrete sidewalk at your home or a paver patio in your backyard.  As most of the country has seen this year, snow and ice have been a huge problem at one point or another.  What is the most common deicing agent used by homeowners and contractors?  Salt is. 

Did you know that salt is a catalyst to breaking down the properties of concrete which causes rapid deterioration?  Concrete that was supposed to last 10, 15, 20+ years without any issues may only have a lifespan of 2 or 3 years depending on the environment that the concrete is in.  This can cause you to spend more money than what you planned on.

Concrete friendly deicers can be found at most big box stores, otherwise a sand mixture can be used which gives traction during the ice months.  If you are in a northern climate, make sure you use a concrete friendly deicer to make your landscaping last to its full potential.  

October 30, 2015

Finding the Right Contractor for Your Retaining Wall Project

You have decided that you want to add a retaining wall to your property.  Now you need to decide if this is a project that you are going to construct or are you going to have a contractor construct the wall.  We all have heard horror stories of contractors not remodeling a house right, properly build a road, etc.  The same thing can happen with retaining walls if you don't select a reputable contractor.  So how do you go about doing your homework to ensure that the contractor you select is the right one for the job?

Nowadays a lot of information can be gleaned from the internet.  The question always at the back of the mind is how reliable is the source?  The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a very reputable source, but not all contractors can be found there.  There are other popular websites where people can post comments regarding their particular experience with the contractor, but that doesn't paint the picture of how much the contractor really knows about building walls.  So what is another solution?

Allan Block has a comprehensive Contractor Certification Program.  This program is designed to give contractors the proper training and tools to ensure top quality retaining walls are built. As a leader in the industry, Allan Block Corporation has developed these tools and training programs to help contractors get the knowledge and the resources they need.

With the help of our vast network of trained Allan Block representatives, thousands of professionals have already taken advantage of our installation training, technical support, and the many tools we have available to help them plan, design and build with Allan Block products.

This three-stage program blends the details of wall design and the experience of wall construction to help us define each contractor’s individual level of ability and service. This on-going certification program has also helped us provide a better understanding of how and why stackable structures work so well. 

So the next time you have a project, contact your local Allan Block representative and ask about the Contractor Certification Program and see who is certified locally or inquire about how you can be a certified contractor!

October 23, 2015

How To Build Your Own Fire Pit

What is more relaxing than gathering with friends around a fire on a cool night? Whether enjoying a cup of coffee, sipping on a glass of wine or making s'mores with your kids, a fire pit will bring fun and relaxation to your event.

My husband and I shopped for a fire pit last summer and were not able to make up our minds on any of the available fire pits in stores. They were either too flimsy or too small and the trims can get too warm to the touch making it hazardous for kids. We wanted a rock solid structure that is easy to install and safe to use. We found the answer to our problem with Allan Block.

We built the fire pit using the AB York from the AB Courtyard Collection following these easy how to instructions on The only additional accessories we needed to complete the project were a fire ring which we found at the local hardware store, and some decorative rock for the bottom. The height was perfect to simply pull up a lawn chair, rest the feet on the ledge and enjoy the dancing flames. We love it!