Thursday, June 26, 2014

Deck Updates

Our backyard's bottom terrace has slowly undergone quite the transformation over the past couple of years.  The grass has been a constant problem since we moved in. Our natural soil isn't great, and the previous owners put the sod in right before they listed the house. So, the sod LOOKED great, but it was temporary-- there wasn't good dirt placed underneath, so the grass quickly became patchy and had poor drainage.
We knew a deck was what we wanted, so in 2012, we built deck 1: off the kitchen and it'd cover the grungy old concrete pad, dirt area by the lilacs, and a little bit of the mottled dirt/grass area.

We were pretty finished with the final product:

But, I made one mistake/bought one stupid product: I stained the deck. Now, it SHOULDN'T have been that big a problem... but the deck stain I bought was crappy (unbeknownst to me, sigh). It flaked off after about 6 months in patches. I also learned later that I likely should have waited a year to stain/seal the deck. Good to know.

The plan all along was to build another deck a step down from this one, and have it run the length of the house.

Last year, that was too much of a project to handle (we were painting the front of the house and then I got pregnant mid-July). So, we just added some mulch to the future deck space. The grass was miserable anyway, and the dogs were getting mucky in the dirt.

See what I mean about patchy grass? UGH.

 (Ignore the beams-- it was a cheap metal trellis that was so cheap I returned it grumpily)

However, after 12 months of the dogs tracking in mulch (though that was better than mud), we decided to bite the bullet and build the deck. Part 1 is now finished-- the first 10' section. There is likely another 20' or so to go! And yes, we're painting this side of the house as we go along

Even though we have a baby this time around, I feel like EVERYTHING is so much easier. The deck is SUPER low --6" high!-- so it's easier to make it VERY stable. I know exactly what to buy. I bought easier joist hangers and I knew what screws to get too. The deck is also a simple rectangle. No cut-outs or anythign complicated like we faced last time. SO much easier this way!
We are still debating whether to go all the way to the fenceline (I'd have to build cut-outs for the bushes) or stop at the house's edge and make the final 1' or so a coarse sand filling. We're doing the deck in 10' increments, so we'll have plenty of time to decide.
However, unlike the last deck which took a solid four weeks of building in the evenings and weekends, this deck took less than ten hours. Add into that the fact that Home Depot delivered the lumber (for free-- they honored Parr Lumber's free delivery on lumber over $300), and my life was infinitely more easy than the first deck.
The next two segments will be built soon. We've decided to first finish painting this side of the house (at least) and pressure-wash the first deck.
As far as staining, we're planning on cleaning the first deck and using a stain-stripper (or many) on it to get it back to it's natural state. Hopefully, it will look similar to the just-built deck's wood. We'll then let it sit for a year and then we'll clean both and stain them both. That's what seems to be the good trick. Believe me, I don't want stain flaking off again, so this time I'm being diligent!
And in case you were wondering: The baby's nearby while I'm building. He's either in his chair or on Bob. But in return, I watch the baby while Bob's off gardening or mountain biking. Co-parenting for the win! 

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