Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘deck resurfacing

Nine Left

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With the sun and relative warmth of a gorgeous fall day, we were able to make satisfying progress on the deck project yesterday. Wouldn’t you know it, there are some rain showers passing by early this morning. I have nine rows left to complete if it dries up later. That is compared to the 43 rows of boards already trimmed and screwed into place.


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We are getting close.

I’m noticing my perception of the deck has changed dramatically. I wasn’t aware of it before, but I felt very little draw to spend any time out on those old rotting boards unless the weather outside was simply irresistible.

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Now I find myself pulled to be out there for any reason I can dream up. Luckily, I have a very obvious reason to be out on those new boards while I’m still in construction mode.

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I have a notorious ability to not finish things I start, so pressure is mounting as time drags on and I slowly creep closer to completion.

On the surface, a project like this seems simple. We aren’t drastically changing anything. We are keeping the frame of joists and simply pulling off old boards to replace them with new. The concept is not complicated.

However, there are complications. Several are related to trying to fit things into pre-existing nooks and crannies without completely tearing out the framing around doors or the railing posts. We also spent a fair amount of time tailoring the fit of board thickness around the stone chimney.

Every step we take to improve the look and quality of the end result adds time. I have no problem spending more time to make it better.

The number one reason we have achieved the quality and progress accomplished thus far is due to the generous contributions of time, tools, and muscle by our treasured friends Mike and Barb Wilkus. Mike has offered two of his Fridays and most of his tools to support us in spending less money overall.

His contributions are worth so much more than money. It is hard to put a value on true friends.

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Written by johnwhays

October 19, 2019 at 9:26 am

All Hands

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It’s that season when the fields come alive with humans and machines. A call must go out for all hands and able bodies for harvesting before the weather messes things up significantly. On my way home on Tuesday I came upon a batch of pickup trucks and workers busy in the fields around the corner from our driveway.

They were gobbling up soybeans and filling the big truck and trailer. It always seems odd to see such a big rig driven into the dirt fields. I don’t understand how they avoid getting stuck.

These fields are so devoid of attention all summer long, it’s startling to suddenly see them become such a hub of activity.

Our house experiences a burst of activity of its own when the soybeans fields are cut down. Suddenly our back doors become the new gathering place for Asian beetles.

The bugs were enjoying the warm sunshine around the backside of our house around the doors to the deck. I know that because I was back there, too.

Cyndie and I did a little more work replacing boards on the deck while the weather was still accommodating.

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We were all hands on deck. Hah!

Now we hunker down for a few days of expected rain and even the first falling snow of the season. The deck project goes on hold until the next dry day shows up. Our bodies will be happy to have a break. I have done so much kneeling lately, I feel like a little kid on the floor playing with my Matchbox car collection.

Thank goodness I’m noticing my knees because that means my back hasn’t been grabbing attention. Knock on deck boards (wood) that my lower back has not flared up from all the leaning over for long periods of time.

What? Me superstitious?

Sending love to my lower back…

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Written by johnwhays

October 10, 2019 at 6:00 am

Good Start

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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.

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

October 5, 2019 at 9:56 am

Delicate Balance

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In the end, we have turned down all the quotes for resurfacing our deck because the costs all exceeded our available funds. The only affordable option was to buy the lumber and do the work ourselves with the generous support of willing friends.

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We have already begun experimenting with several techniques for removing the old boards, with varying success. Yesterday, I resorted to buying a hole-saw bit that would allow drilling around a stripped-out screw to free up a board and leave the screw behind to be extracted with a vice-grip plier.

I don’t mind working slow, but at the pace I am achieving, the 815-square-foot deck surface will not be completed in a weekend.

Initially, I envisioned getting all the old wood removed before focusing on installing the new boards, but then I heard a suggestion of just removing one board at a time and replacing it. That way the project could start and stop at any time without the deck being in total disarray.

One big challenge for me if this project ends up lasting for a long time is the delicate balance I am trying to manage in dealing with a bulging disc in my lower back. When it flares up, my mobility is greatly hampered.

I had high hopes of making big progress yesterday removing screws from boards, but a sharp twang of breathtaking pain suddenly limited my success to a single board.

The reason I describe the challenge of my bulging disc as a balancing act is because of the way the problem manifests. For most of my days I experience no pain and no limitations of movement. Then, without warning, the slightest movement will unleash the hint of a stab that takes my breath away and sends an adrenaline spike that contracts my muscles in an attempt to prevent a deeper stab.

Moments later, I am able to move like normal, yet with an understandable precautionary stiffness in fear the worst outcome is just as possible, likely even, if I make one wrong move.

I just have no idea which movement will end up being a wrong one.

A natural response to this scenario is to walk in the stiffest posture possible, but that isn’t a realistic solution. Instead, I returned to my core-strengthening exercises and flexibility stretches. This routine is the opposite of maintaining the stiffest posture possible and allows me to move very close to normal.

But it still leaves me in a delicate balance, because the bulge in my disc doesn’t instantaneously recede. That takes time. Weeks.

In the meantime, I proceed walking and leaning forward within an immeasurably small fraction of that startling reminder the bulge is in close proximity to spinal nerves.

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Written by johnwhays

September 28, 2019 at 10:03 am

All Quiet

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All quiet in our little corner of Wobegon world this week. I was right about my suspicions that the burrowing woodchuck would show up again somewhere. Since we secured the window well, the pest spent time messing around the outside edges in search of a new way in. Just lovely.

Cyndie leaves for the lake today with friends of hers for the weekend and I will be partying at home alone with the pets. Maybe I’ll see if I can get Delilah to help me pull up the old deck boards. The new lumber has been purchased and already delivered in two stacks on the driveway.

So much for paying someone else to do the job. Think of the money we will save!

Mike has volunteered to help with installing the new boards, and we have a plan to hit that task next week. I would like to make some progress before then by pulling the old boards, if my bulging discs will allow.

That’s about all the news I have today. I’ll leave you with a scene of our skinny trees that Cyndie captured to show how the property is beginning to make the transformation toward leaflessness.

Peace!

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Written by johnwhays

September 27, 2019 at 6:00 am