Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Simply Decked

We - at least partially - finished our little decking project over a very long 4 day weekend.  Okay, actually it was more like 4.5 days, but we were moving quite slowly on the half day, I'm sure it could have been closer to 4.25 days if we were just a little better rested. Who's counting?

My parents were here to help, and without their help, as I mentioned before, NOTHING would have happened around here - because as Pregnantly Plump commented, house projects and little ones don't mix.

The deck looks like this now.

And before, it basically looked like this. A big pile of dirt, in case you didn't know what you were looking at in that link.

The deck is about 300 square feet, with a treated pine understructure and 2x6 redwood boards on top.  Using the redwood was a bit of a leap for me, mostly because 1) I wanted larch and 2) Colorado deck sales people push really hard in the direction of composites. And by "really hard," I mean that I'm almost expecting all the wood to crack, warp, bend, twist and break into an unrecognizable pile of "reclaimed wood" by next week due to the harsh weather here. So I'm taking photos TODAY. Also, you wouldn't believe the frown I got when I told a sales clerk I wanted a wood deck, "I wouldn't, with kids," she said. I guess she was implying that any resulting splinters might be a form of child abuse.

When we started putting down the redwood, I was feeling rather disturbed by the color combination of redwood and green/grey siding. But after a few days I'm feeling less offended by it. Or maybe the red color is fading...

Most of our neighbors have composite decks. Interestingly, several of them commented on how nice the redwood smelled as we were working on it. I thought that was pretty funny.

Do you hear that, composite deck industry?  Maybe you should add some nice smell to your product.

Ooooh, I could write a dissertation about why I dislike composites, but I think it's not so interesting to most of you, so just email me if you want more. ;-)

The design issue of stairs/steps was important to me. Most decks in the neighborhood step down at the door.  The result of this is a lower deck with more privacy. But stairs and doors are two bottlenecks that I wanted to minimize. I was really interested in preserving the flow between indoor and outdoor space.

So the deck is overall higher than the rest of the neighborhood decks, and each step (to the yard) is only 6 inches high, although they are 9 feet long and 20 inches deep.  This makes for a really nice, gradual transition to the lawn and a GREAT place for people to sit/lounge. Or some nice, comfortable stairs for crawling around on.
Um. The deck is flat and level.  The camera lens distorts it. Really.
We used the very smart Maine Brackets in lieu of a ledger board.  (Ledger boards attach into the house and run the length of the deck.)

Can you believe I'm posting a photo of a bracket on a Mommyblog? Geez. Who do I think is reading this thing?
The brackets are truly a brilliant design alternative to a ledger board, because ledger boards can have real water leakage problems if not done appropriately. Also, I thought the Maine brackets were so beautiful.  I hated to cover them up with the deck boards.

We also predrilled holes and put in over 1400 screws. That part alone took 2 days. There are fancy ways to fasten down deck boards, but I like the honesty of the visual connection. Also, look at how we lined up those screws. Nice, huh? There's soap flakes around the holes, because we "soaped" the screws.  Apparently, what I'm lacking in strength can be compensated by the finesse of Lever2000. I am such a dork. Or perhaps these are details only an architect can love. And I really don't want to see what kind of searches this post will now pick up.

Because the deck is less than 30 inches from the ground, we were not required to add a railing (per building code). I really, really like the resulting platform-look. The platform look - and the minimalism - that was intentional. But at 28 inches above the ground (at it's "highest point"), it is slightly high, especially for a house with piccolini. I'm working through a couple of different plans that would put benches and planters around the edges. We knew we couldn't finish planters, benches AND a deck in one long weekend, so it will have to wait. And we may need to come up with a short term solution, depending on the complexity and cost. I'm also researching fast growing and tall plants (hops? bamboo? pampas grass? corkscrew willow?) for privacy, as well as drip irrigations systems to keep all the vegetation alive. (Have I mentioned my black thumb?)

More photos of the deck/yard after sod, planters, etc. in Summer 2011
Planter around the deck
Bamboo, growth season 1 
Bamboo, growth season 2


Anonymous said...

Cool steps - and rocks, too! If I were a little boy, I would have a lot of fun with this new "play area." Wow, the stuff that can be built upon and played with on those steps could keep me busy for hours. It's almost enough to make one forego mud - and wet concrete! Hope there is still enough room for some adult entertainment! (Love your neatly aligned screws, too.)

Pregnantly Plump said...

I think it looks great! And I really like the long steps. My father has built lots of decks, and always uses wood. It does warp eventually, but it takes at least 10 years, if not longer. When it starts getting a little discolored, he pulls the boards up and flips them over.

Erin said...

WOW! It looks AMAZING! You got some mad skilz, girl. I love it. Can we hire you?