Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The deck is done! The deck is done!

...well, except for staining/sealing. But I'm calling it done! Tonight we glued on the rest of the post caps and added a few more nails to existing joist hangers, then just like that, all the "building" was done. As I'm sure you know, because it's all I've been talking about for the last 3 or so months, we've been working on this project for a while. If you saw our old deck in person, you know why it needed to be replaced. It was a bit of a hazard for anyone who didn't know its little "quirks". Like which boards not to step on and which hand rails not to lean on. But it's all safe now! Feel free to come over and dance across the deck and lean on any hand rail you want!

This is going to be a pretty picture heavy post so I'll try and just comment on pictures as I go. We'll start with some pictures of the old deck. Then a couple of progress pictures, followed by the final deck. Here we go!

The lovely old deck:

One thing we didn't like about the old deck was the various board sizes and the exposed screws and nails. Each board was nailed AND screwed down at each joist. Also, it wasn't good that two boards would meet up over one joist. That left very little room to fasten each board and made the boards more likely to rot. You'll see in pictures of the new deck how we fixed those problems :)

You can see in the picture above that the old deck had benches. There was one like that on either end. While they were occasionally useful, they weren't in the best places and it's not like we could move them. We decided that the benches would not be returning with the new deck.

That railing is definitely not safe!

This one isn't as obviously unsafe, but give it a little shove and it would almost fall off the deck on its own.

The landing where you can access the garage was supported by posts on one side, and by a little friction on the other. See the post that is kind of wedged against the house? It's like that because the nails that had attached the ledger to the concrete rusted through (again...nails, not bolts), and the landing sagged until the post was pinned against the house.You'll also see it caused the stairs to drop some and expose unpainted parts of the house. Joe jacked up that side of the landing and attached it to the foundation of the house with some heavy duty anchor bolts into the concrete. It's not going anywhere now!

If you talked to us at the beginning of this project, we probably told you that we were definitely going to use composite decking. We ordered several samples and went to a few places in Kansas City to get more information on them. Unfortunately, our favorite samples were also the most expensive and it led to us to reconsider using wood instead of composite. Below are all of our composite samples. I'll spare you from our decision process, but in the end we decided to go with cedar for the decking and railing. We will have to stain/seal it every few years but we decided we could handle that. I guess time will tell :)

We took apart the old decking piece by piece which meant removing about a million nails and screws, give or take a few (Joe says it ended up being about 16-18 lbs of nails and screws). We had to be careful to not harm the structure of the deck since we planned on keeping all of it and it was still structurally sound. The first thing to come off was the fascia, followed by the walkway, the stairs and landing, then finally the main decking.

Here is just one bucket full of nails and screws. That blue and yellow tool next to the hammer is something called a "cat-claw" that we borrowed from our neighbor and it was a LIFE SAVER when it came to pulling nails. 

Once we a good chunk of the decking removed and reinforced certain parts of the framing, we placed our big lumber order and it got delivered to the house! The delivery truck dropped the lumber off on our driveway so Joe and I had to carry it all into the garage. We couldn't park in the garage for a few weeks :) 

Then we started building! We started by installing the 4x4 railing posts then built the stairs and worked our way down the walkway to the main deck. Joe had to measure and cut new stair stringers (the zig-zagged wood the steps are attached to) because the old ones were rotten at the bottom and had about a dozen nails where the posts were attached. This took a lot of measuring, calculating, and cuts, but it all came out great!

You can see in the picture of the walkway above that we were able to use 20' boards on that section and avoid having to decking meet up over joints like I mentioned at the start of the post. We also used 20' decking on the main portion of the deck, but since the deck is actually close to 40' across, we placed two boards perpendicular to the house down the middle of the deck to kind of create 2 sections. In order to do this we had to add blocking between the 2 center joists. You can see those extra boards below. 

After all the decking was down and the last few posts were put in place, we had to attach the railings. We decided on aluminum balusters (aka spindles) because they'll be more durable and lower maintenance. The railing and boards that the balusters are attached to are 2x4 cedar. Joe cut all the sections to length and then we attached them to the posts (more on that later). We had to calculate the distance between posts to figure out exactly how many balusters to put in there and how much spacing there should be between them. We're really happy with how they turned out!

The FINAL step in the deck was gluing on the post caps. We opted for copper caps so that there wouldn't be any wood grain exposed since that would be a prime place for rot. To glue them down we used gorilla glue and bags of sand for weight.

Now for completed deck pictures!

Step out of our back yard and take a walk up the steps :)

Take a right at the landing and stroll down the walkway.

Admire the seamless decking :)

Hang another right and you're on the main deck. Hear the angels singing!

Then maybe walk to the other end and take a look back at where you came from.

And that's the deck! Real quick I want to tell you about how we attached all the various parts. When you're walking around the deck, you won't see any screws holding the decking down. That's because we used a tool called a Camo Jig that allows you to drill special screws into the edges of the decking so they'll essentially be hidden. Below you can just barely see the screw hole on the edge of the board.

For the hand railing we used another special tool called a Kreg Jig which pre-drilled pocket holes so that boards can be connected more securely. All the angled holes you see in the picture below were done using the Kreg Jig. You can also see in the picture below that the black aluminum balusters were just screwed into the railings from the outside.

We couldn't have completed this so quickly ("quickly" is relative of course haha) with out a few other tools. Joe's impact driver made driving all the screws a cinch. We also borrowed an air powered hand held hammer from one of my coworkers that saved Joe some serious forearm fatigue when adding blocking between joists. The other helpful thing we can't go without mentioning is the help of our friends. Our friend Greg helped demo the deck and haul old decking to the curb and another friend Josh helped with the demo and the re-building. We have the best friends :) Although they may not stick around long if we keep making them work on projects. Greg also helped install the hardwood floors in our dining room haha. Well, I guess I should wrap up the longest post in the short history of Lombardo Lagniappe. First, one more picture of the deck just because. Thanks for reading and have a great night!