Posts Tagged ‘Deck construction’


April 20, 2014

We were making good progress on putting down the floor of the new deck. We had just reached the edge of the house when we knocked off work for the evening. Next morning, I was standing at the door admiring the spread, when I noticed that one of the cracks was wider than the others.

This manufactured plastic lumber has a top surface, which is wider than the bottom surface, and sure enough, one of the boards had been installed upside down. Damn! Even worse, it was ten boards in from the working edge, and there is no direct access to the middle of a field. Do I really want to pull up ten boards just to turn that one over?

I spent the morning convincing myself that it was a done deal, it was what it was, not worth the bother, and moomph, moomph, moomph. But now that I knew it was wrong, I also knew I would see that error every time I went out there, forever. Fortunately, it’s all screwed down, but still, pulling up well over a hundred screws over 160 linear feet of span (10 x 16-foot boards) is a fair bit of work. And pulling it apart is the easy part, because I don’t have to worry about spacing or the tightness of the screws.


Saturday I started in the early coolth of the morning to put it all back together. While I was at it, I put chicken wire around the near-side edges (photo above), to keep out the raccoons. (The alligator lizard won’t have any trouble.)

The last of the 16-foot boards dangled out into the bushes in the upper right by quite a bit (angled row of scraps is a visual No-Step area), and the first of the 12-foot boards was only just barely long enough to reach.


I put in two 12-foot boards and ran out of clips. Which was actually just fine, because it gave me an excuse to knock off for the day. It went well, but it’s still a lot of work.

As shown in the top photo, I laid out the remainder of the 12-foot boards to see how they would lie atop the joist frame. The long ends in the lower left of the picture will be trimmed off, as will the diagonal in the upper right.

It’s progress, it really is: even though the last boards are lying loose, this is the first time the entire joist frame enclosure has been dark during daylight hours.

Pulling down the overhead, but not on my head

October 7, 2013

In yesterday’s post, I described some of the excitement in the back yard rebuild project, but without pictures. Today, the pictures.

DSC06814 before

First, a picture from some years ago, before the house was as shockingly pink as it is now. There was a substantial overhead structure, a frame covered with lattice, and overgrown with wisteria.

But over the years, the wood deteriorated, and it eventually became time to replace the overhead, as well as the deck itself. I have already blogged about the deck project.


Looking from the back door out toward the vantage point of the above picture. I have been pulling down the secondary structure for a while now, the lattice and the non-supporting crossing boards. What I did Saturday was remove the final supporting cross beams between the posts. The two I did not pull down are the ones attaching to the house itself.


Here is the same corner we see in the first picture above.


The other side of the overhead, also tied into the house.


A close-up, showing how the beam is anchored in with a bolt. It needs to come straight out, to avoid damaging the rain gutter above it, or the drain to the right.


The same beam, supported on a post until I figure out how to get it down without destroying anything, especially the house. Especially not myself.


The ears were braces against the crossing boards. I would have pried them loose, but they were really nailed in tight, so I ended up just cutting them out. Turned out to be a good thing, because I used these remaining ears to support the beams as I took them down.

The T-brackets are bolted in. All of the bolts are rusty, and many have damaged threads, so it was a lot of work loosening and removing them. They are just loose in the holes now, while I figure out what to do next.

There were also toenails between beam and post, and under the T-brackets. So once I got the brackets loose, I had to get a hacksaw blade into the gap and cut the nails.

The original beam here was twice as long — reached almost to the gazebo — but I cut it in two, and as we see, there is not a whole lot of overlap. The rope sling is just in case it should move a little, I don’t want the whole thing to come crashing down. Even if this end didn’t damage anything important, the pivot around that bolt at the other end would surely damage the house.

What happened today was that Roger climbed up on the roof above the beam, we looped a rope sling around it, and I cut it near the house with a handsaw, whereupon he lowered the cut end to the ground. We then went to the post above (we had removed one of the two bolts, so it just pivoted down), and brought down the other end, safely. Good to have it done.

With no leverage and no weight on it, the remaining stub under the rain gutter was easy.


Here’s the other beam connecting to the house. Same arrangement, but no roof to sit on while lowering it, and it’s right over the edge of the new deck and its framing, so a little harder to place ladders. But it should be possible, one of these fine days.

Progress on the deck

August 18, 2013

Loyal fans will recall the deck renovation exercise. The first phase is finally coming together.


Here’s the view from the back door as of yesterday evening.


The deck surface is manufactured wood. We have homemade spacers that keep the right spacing between boards, which are held onto the joists with clips,


Detail of the spacers. Nothing but the finest, here. You can buy a spacer commercially, but these work just as well, and we have six of them instead of just the one that we would have purchased.


A close-up of a clip. Theoretically, each new board just slides onto those ears and life is simple. Well, not quite that easy, but it does eventually come along.


The clips on the deck boards actually pulled loose the wooden block on one of the newly installed piers. The only explanation is that the pier must have settled an eighth of an inch or so after having been placed. Anyway, Roger mixed up some quick-set concrete and worked it into the gap under the wooden pad, so that it will have a surface to rest on. We don’t need it to resist horizontal pressure, just carry a vertical load.


Evening today, and phase 1 is complete. The view toward the back door, above, and from the door, below.


We will start working on the area to the right, and the outdoor worktable (formerly known as a picnic table) is to the left. So that big pile of plastic tarp in the background gets spread across the new surface to minimize damage that would otherwise be caused by gravel-encrusted shoes and who knows what!

But it’s real progress. Thanks, Roger, for doing a good job on it.

Hitting the deck

July 31, 2013

In my Killer day post, I showed the beginning of the deck rebuild.


As a reminder, the shot above shows the view from the back door, more or less, after taking up the high part of the deck. The brick pillar to the left houses a drinking fountain that has been inoperable since the first winter, when the pipe froze. Moomph!

Running diagonally through the picture, a line for the sprinkler system. It leaks, and we’ll replace it. We’ll replace it, in fact, in a way that provides future access without having to tear apart the deck, just in case it needs to be replaced again someday.


Here’s a second view from the back door, the lower level, but with the boards removed only where I wanted the drywell.


And the drywell, after a day of hard work. The concrete protruding into the hole is the apron around two of the piers that support the joists. Its presence complicated the excavation.


How the drywell looks today, dug another foot deeper (thanks to the gardener) and filled with light gravel salvaged from the roof, with a perforated tube running down its center and connected to the rain downspout.


Today’s view from the back door, drywell at the far right. The high part of the deck has been reinforced with new joists because the deck surface will be 1-inch manufactured lumber, rather than 2-inch redwood. In the background, holes for the concrete piers that will support joist interleaving for the lower deck. We’re doing the deck in two phases because it’s good to have access to the part just outside the door as soon as possible.


We cut off the pipe to the drinking fountain.


Where it froze, lo those many winters ago. The temperature was probably into the upper 40s, F. In the rebuild, we will insulate the pipe.


I invited the gardener to dig out the holes for the piers, and he did a great job. This is hard adobe soil, filled in some places with rock and scrap concrete from when the house was built, and is a lot more work than it might appear at first glance.

I’ll undoubtedly update the blog with at least one progress report.