Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘deck repair

Project Complete

with 6 comments

We did it. It just didn’t make sense to wait for some future opportunity to replace the top boards of the railings. We were too close to the end to let the project hang unfinished for any length of time.

I pulled screws out of the old boards yesterday morning and installed the new boards in the afternoon. When I lifted the first board off the railing, we made a startling discovery.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

I’m glad we waited this late in the season because, unknown to us, there were a lot of wasp nests hanging underneath the boards. Our recent freeze rendered the nests vacant.

Here is just a portion of the screws pulled to remove the railing boards:

 

Even though it’s just a small step in the overall deck refurbishment project, the large number of screws take a significant amount of time to extract.

The grand finale that put an exclamation point on the whole job for us was getting the leftover lumber off the driveway and into storage in the hay shed.

Done and done.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

October 28, 2019 at 6:00 am

Beyond Sunset

leave a comment »

Once again, we put in a very full day hoping to reach the end of the deck renovation project. Having saved the worst for last, we were up against the most-used steps that had drooped out of level due to rotting and erosion below. That meant spending an uncomfortable amount of time under the deck.

I did have some regret that we didn’t choose to address this problem before finishing the floor above. I didn’t realize how extensive the problem was until we had pulled up the boards of the steps and observed the impact water runoff was having there.

With no real experience in this level of carpentry, I did my best to add some boards for support underneath and reuse as much as possible of the existing frame to create a sound platform for the new step boards above. That also required some added fill to build up the ground that had washed away over the years.

We needed to create new footings for the bottom of the steps so they weren’t exclusively hanging by the screws holding the frame against the main deck at the top.

After lunch, we took the ATV down to an old drainage spot that previous owners had filled with broken concrete. Ironically, evidence points to that debris having been dumped there after removing it from the very spot we were returning it to. It looks like there was once a concrete patio that got removed for the landscape pond and deck expansion at some point in the history of this property.

When those steps were completed, we were officially done with the portion we originally planned to redo. All that remained was the mission creep portion of replacing the top boards of the railing. We’d gone this far already, why stop now?

Since Mike had allowed us to hang on to his saws, we decided to cut the angles on boards for the railing, to have them ready for installation whenever we decide to get around to pulling off the old boards. That task of removal involves digging out the Phillips head screw slots so we can pull off the boards without damaging the wood below. One of the time-consuming aspects of this project that seems never-ending.

Marking and cutting railing boards pushed us past sunset last night. Cyndie took a photo in the waning light to mark the completion of the main steps.

I’m thinking about the money we saved.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

October 27, 2019 at 9:46 am

Next Steps

leave a comment »

Blessed with another glorious day of blue sky and sunshine on a Friday, Cyndie and I returned to the deck refurbishing project yesterday. The temperature was a little harsh at the start but soon warmed to perfection. Even after I had removed all the screws from the set of steps we started on, I couldn’t get the boards loose until I figured out they were frozen in place. A little persuasion from a hammer was all it took to break the ice.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

I was grateful to have Mike’s power tools to create cut-outs on boards and lucky to have an old length of 4 x 4 in the shop to replace a rotted post on the railing of the second set of steps.

My perfectionistic desires are being seriously taxed by the difficulties of coping with inconsistencies in both the new wood and the old. I repeatedly measured twice before cutting and usually double-checked positioning before drilling in screws, but the results far too often failed to match my intentions.

Fortunately, my standards are loosening as the duration of this project drags on. I’m starting to view the imperfections as features. The misalignments are becoming quaint reminders of how much money we saved by doing this ourselves.

One example: I cut a new face board to go along with the replaced railing post and centered it on the middle frame board. After starting at the top and screwing in boards on each step, I discovered at the bottom that the middle frame board wasn’t actually centered between the ends.

I centered on something that wasn’t centered. Wonderful.

When one of my last boards with cut-outs was found to be off by a quarter-inch, I decided to simply cut an equal amount off the other end and have a symmetrical difference. Somehow, it still ended up lopsided once it was screwed down.

I swear, things move even after there are screws in place.

In the end, none of the small details I fret over will be noticeable to the casual observer. I’m practicing the art of being okay with the imperfections.

Maybe, just maybe, the end is within reach today. We are going to aim for that goal, especially since the weather is once again, perfectly accommodating.

.

.

Say Hi

with 4 comments

Good morning. Say hello to our chickens and Pequenita.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

One of the Golden Laced Wyandottes appears to be molting. Poor thing looks a mess.

Pequenita was doing her best queen bee daytime recline on Cyndie’s pillows. Of course, Cyndie is the one who is more allergic to cats between the two of us. Figures.

Delilah hasn’t been feeling her best and missed out on the photo sessions. She seems to be suffering a skin disturbance that has left her belly raw. The vet reports a large number of dogs have been experiencing similar afflictions. We are hoping the hard freeze will eliminate some possible allergens that could be causing the trouble.

This week, Cyndie paid a visit to a horse rescue place near Hastings to donate some left-over tack and supplies that didn’t sell in her boutique last spring. We are investigating the possibility of making our pastures available to them for summer grazing.

Could be a way for us to have horses around again, but without much of the expense.

It would be nice to be able to say “Hi” to horses again. Would only be a summertime visit, so we won’t know until next year if the possibility will work out or not.

I don’t mind waiting. Winter horse care can be stressful.

I would like to say “Hi” to days with reduced stress. Maybe I’ll be able to do that from our deck soon. Today we are going to take a crack at replacing the steps and railing tops.

I’m looking forward to saying “Goodbye” to the power tools Mike loaned us. That will be the exclamation mark on our completion of the DIY project. Then I will say “Hello” to all the money we saved.

Say goodbye, John.

Goodbye.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

October 25, 2019 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

Floor’s Finished

with 2 comments

There was little in the way of fanfare, but yesterday Cyndie and I finally completed the replacement of our deck floorboards. Woo hoo!

Finishing the section in front of our bedroom door came with a reward. The spacing worked out so that we were able to use full-width boards all the way to the end. It looks great.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Boy, that’s a lot of wood.

All that remains of the project are the stairs and the top of the railings. We hadn’t originally intended to do the top board of the railings, but once the floorboard work got underway, the look of the new wood became a great persuader.

Between my work-week and the weather, plans for further carpentry are on hold until next Friday.

I’m happy to take a break, despite the fact the project continues to linger unfinished. I’m choosing to focus on the money we are saving.

If we had hired one of the professional firms to do this, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have taken as many days off as I do, but DIY savings can come with other costs.

Taking extra time is a cost we can afford right now. (Don’t tell Cyndie I said that.)

.

.

Written by johnwhays

October 21, 2019 at 6:00 am

More Boards

leave a comment »

Are you sick of reading about our deck yet? I’m afraid this do-it-yourself project isn’t one we can conquer quickly, so the subject drags on. Yesterday’s weather allowed us to get back out there and drive a few more screws, but working in short stints like this will result in the end achievement coming in weeks instead of days.

Today I’m back commuting to the day-job, so decking is on hold for a while.

Yesterday, Cyndie and I ran into a few hiccups that kept our progress from soaring ahead into brag-worthy results, but we are both perfectly satisfied with what we accomplished in the time we were able to be out there.

On the plus side, the battery charger that seemed like it wasn’t working on Friday lit up yesterday with a perfect flashing green LED. I don’t know what made the difference, but my drill driver was very happy to have two chargers feeding its batteries again.

The biggest hassle was losing one of the three spacer boards we had been using. It suddenly disappeared and despite searching for too long, there was no sign of it anywhere. I finally gave in and we walked to the shop garage to hunt for another spacer.

Fifteen minutes later, after dropping yet another spacer under the deck, Cyndie found the first one we had lost was hung up down there behind a joist.

At least that made sense for where it had disappeared to because I was starting to worry I had absentmindedly set it down somewhere when I stepped inside the house or thrown it down on the pile of old rotten boards without realizing it.

I have forgotten enough things lately that this seemed like it could too easily have been another lapse by my feeble mind.

Since that wasn’t the case, I’m giving myself a clean slate and ready to assume my memory is sound.

My body, on the other hand, will be happy to have a break from the weekend of hard labor. Now it’s back to trying to stay alert on the long commutes to and from work for a few days.

Instead of focusing on more boards, I will be managing becoming more bored with the hours of driving.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

October 7, 2019 at 6:00 am

Good Start

with 2 comments

Blessed with a day between drenching rains, yesterday we made great headway on the deck resurfacing project. Mike arrived about the same time daylight did and Cyndie primed our energies with a grand breakfast feast in preparation for the long day of labor ahead. Setting the first board required immediate customization, which is a part of the project I would have struggled to accomplish without Mike’s wisdom and experience.

After solving that challenge, the work settled into a board-placing routine that wasn’t particularly complicated but tended to eat up bigger chunks of time just doing than it seems it should.

Along the way, there were pauses to re-measure spacing and then tweaking the board gaps. Even simple board selection adds minutes, pondering how to minimize waste while selecting around imperfections in the lumber.

Eventually, we would reach a railing post and be faced with doing some customized cuts to enclose the obstruction. For the post below, Mike engineered two pieces that required multiple cuts which resulted in a pretty slick looking continued flow.

The thinking involved to plot where seams fall gets a little mind-boggling for me, but Mike helped to achieve a repeating pattern that I really like.

By lunch we had covered the bottom level, which was honestly my main goal, knowing in advance that progress most likely would be hampered by something. Nothing I have ever worked on goes so smoothly that I get more done than expected.

Most important for me was proving the process. I thought I would be able to do this in place of hiring professionals, but I was a little wary about the unknowns like detailing around the railing, mastering the seams and spacing, and even where to start, and how to finish the last board.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

We’ve got boards cut to length and positioned, but not all of them screwed down yet. By the end of the day, we probably were just under halfway finished with the resurfacing. There is a lot of lumber yet to replace, but the number of complicated decisions left to be addressed should be less.

If we ever get another dry weather day, maybe I can work more on the project.

Actually, today’s rain has me wondering if we shouldn’t have skipped the deck project and focused on building a boat that could hold us and our pets instead. I’m worried our house might just float away if it keeps up like this, and we live on top of a hill!

Apparently, the atmosphere holds more moisture when the planet warms and is able to dump more precipitation as a result.

I wonder if we have any circumstantial evidence to back that up.

I wish I could remember where we put our PFDs.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

October 5, 2019 at 9:56 am