Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘replacing boards

Project Complete

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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.

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

October 28, 2019 at 6:00 am

Next Steps

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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.

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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.

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More Boards

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

October 7, 2019 at 6:00 am

Saving Thousands

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If money was no object for us, I would have spent last night reclining in my easy chair with my feet up doing something pleasant, like napping. Instead, we are saving thousands of dollars by doing the work of replacing the rotting surface boards of our deck ourselves, along with the priceless assistance of our precious friend, Mike Wilkus.

That meant Cyndie and I were both out on the deck after I got home from work yesterday, manically striving to prepare as much as possible for today’s plan of installing the new boards.

We are going to keep the railing, so Cyndie has been sanding and wire brushing that wood to remove the lichen that has grown on much of it.

I worked to remove more of the old surface boards, prying up the original ones that were nailed and pulling screws from previous replacement planks.

It is one of those projects that shouldn’t be difficult but always includes unexpected challenges that suddenly bog down progress and increase frustration. Often, it has been a hidden screw that I missed, or simply one where the head is stripped and won’t spin out.

My hole-saw bit has been working wonderfully as a solution to free the old boards and leave problem screws behind to be spun out with a vice grip plier.

Most of the boards are coming up with ease, so I am growing more confident that the whole project is in reach of being as straightforward as we hoped. I’m thinking the bulk of work today will involve hauling new boards to be cut to length and then screwing them down to the joists.

All the while, I’ll be thinking about how much money we are saving by not contracting this out to any of those high bidders who recently quoted the job.

Our labor will be worth thousands.

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Written by johnwhays

October 4, 2019 at 6:00 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

Decked Out

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We’ve limped our deck along thus far using patches for the boards that rotted out, but it is getting to the point where the bad spots almost outnumber the good ones.

It’s time to replace them all. For us, the process starts with a search for a crew in the area who are willing to quote the job. Cyndie’s first call landed a person who lives remarkably close and seems hungry for the work. Maybe too hungry. He’s made three visits already, two of the times with a different potential “assistant” in tow to analyze the scope of our project.

He wanted to get to work right away with a verbal “rough estimate” and a willingness to start removing boards yesterday. We’ve got another quote scheduled for Friday, so we are making him wait.

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Cyndie and I took the steps of removing all the furniture and I pulled up a couple boards to reveal the condition of the joists below, hoping to make the quoting process as easy as possible for our estimators. It’s enough to almost entice me into trying to do the whole thing myself, if it weren’t for the nitty-gritty details for which I have no experience, such as what to do about the railings.

Ain’t home maintenance grand?

I’m leaning toward the extra expense of choosing composite boards for the job, specifically to reduce the amount of ongoing maintenance required. The boards that receive some shade from pine trees tend to get mossy and the boards out in the open face extreme UV abuse.

It would please me immensely if we never needed to deal with rotting boards ever again.

Of course, there’s always the other option of just selling this property and moving away to a place that doesn’t involve doing our own maintenance.

Is it too soon for us to move into a senior living retirement apartment?

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Written by johnwhays

August 19, 2019 at 6:00 am