June 14, 2012

Well, I Deck-lare!

You know the saying Southern folks have when they don’t approve of something? 

I believe it’s something like “Well, bless your/her/his heart.” 

A poorly built deck

I’m not a Southern woman, but I can appreciate the sentiment behind such a comment.  If I could meet the prior homeowner of our house who installed our deck, I think it would be wise to exercise the utmost Southern courtesy and “bless his heart”. 

But since he’s not standing in front of me, I don’t have to be courteous at the moment.  So let’s face it – he screwed us over big time.  I’m sure homeowners everywhere have rested easy upon the premise that once a project becomes a problem, it won’t be their problem – it’ll be the next guy’s.  And that’s exactly what happened in this case.

I don’t know if the immediate preceding homeowners realized what was lurking under their deck, but if they did, they didn’t tell us.  The home inspector didn’t notice that the supporting beams under the deck weren’t treated or cedar or redwood.  He did notice the rotting skirting and told us it would be an easy fix.

Fast forward one summer into owning our first home: we notice all the skirting is showing signs of serious rot.  It’s so rotted, the paint is peeling off the swollen sections of wood and the screw threads are becoming exposed. 

Rotting deck skirting

Shortly after noticing this, we then noticed a distinct “sponginess” under the deck planking.  As in, you could feel yourself sink a little as you walked over certain sections of the deck.

Super rotten deck skirting

Not anticipating having to repair (let alone replace) this huge deck we just bought with our house, we waited a couple summers and then hired a handyman to shore up the worst joists and replace the worst skirting.  We figured it would give us another couple years.

Partially repaired skirting

This year…the rotting joists became visible between the deck planking, and the soft spots in the deck got much worse.  Many planks were no longer screwed into anything, because the wood had rotted away from the screws. 

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a rotten joist

Decks-ray vision

It had to be fixed. 

We got an estimate from a well-reputed “deck guy” and choked on what it would cost to essentially "buy” our deck for the SECOND time.  (We paid for this stupid thing when we bought our house! Had we known it was about to literally fall down, I’m sure the price of the house would’ve been adjusted.)  In a nutshell, the thing had to be rebuilt from scratch.

How not to build a deck frame

What?  Pine on plywood on concrete isn’t the way to build a deck!?

Deck support FAIL

Well, since we were dumping a chunk of money on this stupid deck, we figured we may as well add the pergola we’ve been talking about since we moved in.  The back of our house gets western sun, and in the afternoon, it’s pretty much an unusable oven.  It doesn’t help that our house is a dark color, which intensifies the heat.  A pergola would make it much more usable and would help keep our living room cooler too.

Decking? Firewood?  Both?

So the deck was finally torn out. 

As I mentioned yesterday, I totally blew it with the “before” pictures.  It was a bright, sunny day, and my ISO setting was as high as it could go, so the pictures are pretty much unrecognizable.  But here’s a shot from earlier this spring (notice the second post to the right of the door and how the deck is actually on a slant right there):

"Before" deck - with nice slant to it

Here we go with the tear-out:

Step 1: Tear out old deck

Once the planks were off, the zebra striping of rot on the (pine! pine! I just can’t get over it! PINE!) joists was shocking.  The chunks of missing, splintered, and deteriorated wood on the joists were even worse.  As the planking got pulled off the end of the deck, huge areas of joist crumbled underneath it.

Rotten deck joists.  About as supportive as a training bra.

Rotten joists.   Pretty!

We discovered the ledger board (against the house) didn’t have flashing behind it.  Luckily, the siding wasn’t rotten, but the deck guy said we got really lucky.

We also discovered the cement piers weren’t buried.  They were set in about 6 inches of dirt, and one actually lifted up when the main supporting board was removed (a screw was still attached somehow.)

Cement deck piers....not buried.

The joists were attached to a front board that was probably a 2x10 (?), and this board was resting on the case-ons nearly at ground level.

Kindling, anyone?

Still a little blown out, but the huge pile of rotten joists was quite a sight!  And then we were left with a measly little concrete patio:

Wow, that patio is tiny....

It must get worse before it gets better.

But then….

Proper deck framing and flashing

Proper deck framing

New deck stairs! And contrast composite deck edge

Angels singing! New deck!

New composite deck and cedar pergola!

Dinners on the deck - HERE WE COME!

Composite deck and cedar pergola - AFTER

Not bad, right?  We used TimberTech composite planks, cedar for the pergola, (obviously) treated wood for the frame, and we saved a little bit by reusing our old railing.  This railing isn’t the sturdiest, and the deck guy said he’d never seen anything like it.  He described it as “hokey” several times, in fact.  But we saved $1000+ by reusing it, so it’ll have to do.

We also chose to do a contrasting redwood color around the perimeter of the deck surface. 

We are THRILLED with our new deck and pergola, and so very impressed with the work that was done.  All the cuts are tight fitting and there’s not a sharp edge or corner to be found.  This deck should last 30-40 years, and we can’t wait to be able to spend more time in our backyard.

Meanwhile, please excuse the junky screen door laying on its side.  It was to the point of needing two hands and one foot to get it open, so it’s in the midst of some repairs.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing in our deck-citement!

Sig2

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