Saturday, September 10

The Next Step

A few months back I posted the first in the series on building a deck. Last May I had no idea this project would take over a year, but here's the next step...

After the foundation is complete you have to lay the decking (basically the floor of the deck). Laying the decking is a fairly quick process that requires a lot of power tools and screws. Dad bought tan screws since they would match the decking and not be as visible once we were finished. We started by laying the lumber in place. Once we made sure everything was in place we began securing the decking using the screws. 

At this point the boards were still significantly longer than the frame of the deck. Rather than risk cutting the boards unevenly before we screwed them in, Dad waited until they were all in place then used his power saw to trim the edges.

The railing was a tricky step. According to our book on deck building, my deck is just high enough off the ground that it needs a railing. But there's a big step between deciding we needed a railing to actually building one. We had to decide how tall the railing should be, whether to buy pre-made railing or to build our own and how to put it into the deck.

After looking at costs I decided we should build our own railing rather than buying a pre-made one. Going with a pre-made railing might be a quicker option and they have several decorative railings that I really liked. However, for me the lower cost of building my own was the deciding factor.

Then Dad and I discussed whether to attach the railing posts to the outside of the deck or fit them into the frame. We decided on the second option. Since the decking was already in place that meant cutting out holes for the posts--which turned out to be a big headache.

As we began cutting out the decking we ran into issues like the wood splitting, the frame hardware getting in the way and tools breaking. Dad came up with creative solutions to circumvent each problem and eventually we got all the posts in. From there we began adding a top and bottom rail to each section of railing. We had decided to use lattice for the railing so the top and bottom rails acted as part of a frame for the lattice panels.
Moment of truth here. I really was not much help during this process. After we finished the decking we took a break because of the extreme heat that swamps Oklahoma in July and August. Once it was finally cool enough to work again I was so busy on the weekends that most of the time when Dad came by to work I was gone. In many cases, 'we' actually means 'he.'
The few plants that survived the 100+ degree temperatures
are shown here. Ignore the empty pots...
The railing is finally finished (except for some finishing touches like molding around the lattice and post caps) and we've moved onto the stairs (which you can read about here).

As soon as we finish the handrails on the stairs I need to start staining and weather-proofing the deck (watch for a how to post on this). I probably should have done that before last winter, but since we weren't finished with the deck I didn't get to it.

As a finishing touch I plan to buy the post caps that have sun powered lights. I think those will add a nice touch. Has anyone else taken on a project as big as building a deck? Do you have a deck and have any advice or tips for long-term maintenance?

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