June 27, 2012

A Little Screen Door Maintenance

Hiya!  What with our lovely new deck and all, another project quickly made its way onto my list:  our sliding screen door.  After all, what’s a nice deck worth if you can’t get out to it?

The.door.was.awful!  It literally required two hands and one foot to get it open.  It was off-balance and perpetually stuck, the screen was ripping, and the lock didn’t work.  (The lock still doesn’t work, but thought I’d throw that in there anyway.)

But I know fixing screens is supposed to be pretty easy, so I made a trip to the store for some supplies.

I got some new screen fabric, some spline, a splining tool, and new rollers.  It cost about $10 total. 

Screen door repair supplies

First things first, so I jumped right in and pulled the old screen and spline out.  Quick, easy, and satisfying in a dusty kind of way.

Rip out the old screen!

Next, I used a screwdriver (and a husband?) to pop the old, broken wheels out of the bottom of the door.  What flimsy little pieces those were.  You’d think wheels that get used and exposed to the weather on a daily basis would be made of a stronger material.

The new wheels were easy to pop right in. 

Roll screen into spline groove

To replace the screen, I laid it out over the frame and pushed it into the spline groove with one end of the tool, then followed up with using the other end of the tool to push the new spline in over it.

Roll spline into spline groove

And done.

It was a SUPER easy way to save myself from any more embarrassing door-wrestling sessions while the neighbors are all out on their decks (getting entertained, no doubt).  Call me high maintenance, but I like being able to open the screen door with one hand while carrying plates of food out to the deck. 

Then, we spent the rest of the afternoon “at” the pool (despite the massive wildfires raging in the distance):

And enjoy the newly accessible deck!

Have I mentioned my state has TWELVE wildfires going right now?  At least 248 homes have been destroyed in the fire nearest us, and huge portions of a major city are being evacuated due to another fire.  Our home isn’t in the path of any of the fires, but please pray for the families who have lost (or will lose) their homes.  I just can’t even imagine how horrible that would be. 

Sig2

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

June 13, 2012

Just a Wednesday– the Deck and more

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Hi everyone!  Here’s hoping you are all having a great week. 

Truth be told, I’m having a hard time keeping up with blogging, so forgive my sporadic posts lately.  I work a full time job and take care of our baby girl at the same time, so *lately*, that doesn’t leave much (any???) time for basically anything else. 

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It wasn’t too hard until about a month ago (blogging aside).  But now…well, it’s getting pretty tough!  We’ve been pondering our family’s future and what role I want to or should have in it, so hopefully we’ll come to a solution in the next several weeks.  At that point, I should have a little more time for keeping up with everything else in life, including blogging.

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Meanwhile, our deck is progressing beautifully!  I can hear drills and saws going now as the pergola goes up.  I recently discovered that ALL my “before” pictures of our deck….are totally blown out.  I screwed up with some setting, and now I need to spend some time trying to edit the photos back to something recognizable.  Such.a.bummer.

But here’s a great shot of the rotted joists previously holding up our deck:

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And the huge pile of dirty-rotten-no-good-untreated-pine that cost us a small fortune to get rid of:

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Once I can fix those before pictures, I’ll go into more detail on all the treasures we found ripping out the old deck.  Oh.ma.gawsh.  I’d really like to tar and feather the doofbag who built that deck.  We had NO IDEA how bad it really was.

But anyway, onwards to happier topics!

In baby news:

Avery finally learned how to roll over from her tummy to her back….and as I write this, she rolled on her own from  her back to her tummy for the FIRST time!

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She loves to stand and can hold herself upright with something to hang onto.

She’s making some of the cutest little squeaks and squeals now.

She went swimming for the first time and loved it!

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She still is a champion non-sleeper.  She averages 10 hours at night and between 1-2 hours during the day.  She also wakes an average of 5 times a night and needs our help to go back to sleep.  We’ve tried a bunch of different approaches to sleep training, and I think we’re finally onto one that is working, but it’s a slow trek.

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We’re smitten.  As you can tell from all the photos Smile

Funny story: she had a diaper blowout today while we were running a quick errand.  Being a quick errand, I didn’t bring the diaper bag, and I was just carrying her in my arms while we were in the store.  It took me a while to realize we had a problem….then a little while longer to realize we had a big problem, and this problem was not only coming out the leg holes and top of her diaper, but her onesie was quickly soaking it up, and I had a nice big smeary chunk down the inside of my arm where I was carrying her.  Oh my stars, it was a mess.

Needless to say, toilet paper and paper towels don’t help much in a situation like that, but we did the best we could and rushed back out to the car to get home as quickly as possible.  A change of clothes for her (and for me), and a bath (for her and for me) later, we finally had it under control.  It was a doozy!

And with that, I’ll exit stage left. 

Sig

June 1, 2012

Surprise!!! (I’m still here!)

Well HELLO out there! 

Since the last time I posted, a lot has probably happened in your life.  Let’s see, like…

School is out? 

You’re celebrating the end of Crazy-May like I am? 

You got your planters planted with some lovely petunias and you feel sorry for your neighbor’s (um, “my”) nekkid planters every time you drive by?

You’re planning your summer vacation or staycation?

It’s been pretty nutty around here as well.  For one thing, I had to keep my blog quiet for a while, because the only thing I had to talk about was, well, a surprise.  I planned a surprise birthday party for Nick, and the next day, Avery was baptized and we had another full-blown party.

The theme of the birthday party was “techie”, since my hubby is definitely a techie.

I used old CDs and a pool noodle for labeling the various dishes:

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The menu included summer staples like BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, fruit salad, “frog eye” salad (LOVE that stuff), and I made German Chocolate Cupcakes with binary code written across the top of the cupcakes like the old Hostess style white curlicues.  (I piped the coconut frosting into the middle of the cupcakes so I could use plain chocolate frosting on top.)

For drinks, we had “Techie-la” Sunrises and one of Nick’s favorite summer drinks that I labeled a “Beer-nary Cooler”, which is half beer and half lemonade.

I used a glass cylinder from the dollar store and stuffed a bunch of old cords in it, then hot glued a plastic platter on top for a cupcake stand.

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Decorations were photos of Nick from each year, with captions explaining the photo and his age in it.

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For his birthday, Nick even got some new outfits!!!  They don’t fit him all that well….but they do look pretty cute on Avery Smile

He also got some cool new lanterns to hang from our new pergola when it’s done.  I’ll save pics of those for when they’re not sitting on our dining room floor Winking smile

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The next day, Miss Avery started the baptism festivities by waking up at about 5 am.  Luckily, her Gigi and Papa were staying with us and offered to get up and keep her occupied for a couple of hours so Nick and I could actually sleep in (we’d almost forgotten what that’s like…)

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Then, on Sunday Avery got some nice time with her godparents before the ceremony:

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Avery wore my christening gown, which was sewn by my grandma.  My aunt made the tatting on the sleeves and the wide Hardanger lace on the bottom hem.

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The bonnet is my great-great-grandmother’s handkerchief, and I also had it pinned under my wedding gown as my “something old” when we got married.  It was really cute, but Avery pulled it off pretty quickly Smile

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And in OTHER news….one of Nick’s sisters graduated from dental school a few days ago and we stayed in a hotel with Avery for the first time (not the greatest night, but it could’ve been worse), Avery finally rolled over front to back,  and our new deck will be started on Monday!!! Whoop!

I’ll keep you posted!  We also got some mulch down in the back garden, so a tour of the yard (before and after the new deck for sure) is in order soon.

Sig

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