Bought this house about 2 years ago, and while I've done various "home improvement projects", I've never really done anything considerable - up until this point, the most I've done is to build bombproof shelving in the basement or tile the bathroom floor.
I wanted a deck - a big relaxing place to go out and sit during the summer, grill, relax, whatever. Unfortunately, what I had was this:
I researched for about a month to figure out all of the codes/requirements/best practices, created 2 sets of plans for the construction, went to the City of Columbus and got a building permit, and started diggin up holes!
Well, actually, before I started digging, I called Ohio's free "call before you dig" hotline to get some utility marks - found out that a phone line ran right through the middle of one of my prospective holes - after a conversation with AT&T (who's phone service I don't currently use) they said "yeah, just cut it, we can install a new line if you ever need service".
Sweet - Let the digging begin!
My plan called for seven holes, 12" diameter, 36" deep. I actually dug two full holes before I decided "hand digging is over-*******-rated". Went to home depot, rented a tow-behind power auger, worth every damn cent. Only problem left was the softball to volleyball sized rocks I hit every few inches. even the power auger couldn't get those out. It also pays to have friends - here's my best friend cleaning out a hole dug by said power auger.
I had originally planned to install a grade beam because this is going to be a low level deck, after some careful measuring and analysis, including building a DIY water level for checking, I found that the ground was only about 2" too high for a wood beam. We had another problem also - our yard generally looked like ****, except for where the deck was going to go. If we installed the deck, we would be covering up every scrap of good high quality grass that I own. We went back to home depot for a solution to both problems. Came back with a rented sod cutter, set it deep to pull some soil off the top, and went to town. Here's the result:
Used the cut sod and laid it over top of some dying turf – end result after a few months is a pretty good looking lawn.
Materials arrived sometime during the hole digging, I thought “I should be able to move this stuff in an hour or so”…Well, I made a few key mistakes in that thought – first, I didn’t take into consideration that each individual deck board weighed on the order of 40-50 lbs.
Also, having a decent amount of experience with house framing, my concept of the weight of wood was based on kiln-dried lumber – not the treated stuff. The 12’ 2x6s were damn near dripping with the lumber treatment. The weight of everything meant that a 1-at-a-time approach seemed a slight bit too light, but a 2-at-a-time approach seemed to be about 35% more than I wanted to carry repetitively to the back yard. It was about a 2 ½ hour ordeal when all was said and done, and I decided that was all for the day.
There are a lot of steps involved in the above photo – First and foremost, you can see that I’ve placed the concrete forms (using my DIY water level) and placed the concrete. For those of you “not in the know”, the “maximum amount of allowable water” for quickrete ready mix isn’t nearly enough for this there just isn’t enough cement involved which means you have to add less water to get the “perfect 5000psi mix” – the solution of course is to add more water, unfortunately, you end up with a weaker cement. That’s okay for me though, the 12” diameter isn’t for the strength of the cement, it’s for the relative weakness of the soil 36” below. A weaker concrete mix will do.
For those that have built decks in the past and are wondering “why didn’t you just pour a 12 inch thick base and run a treated post up through the ground?” – the answer is “because that’s not the way that it made sense to build this deck.”
Against the house you’ll see the ledger board bolted to the CMU (That’s “concrete block”) basement wall. The top of that ledger board will basically be the finished height of the deck. For the anchors, I drilled into the block with a rotary drill (non-hammer) and used the strong-tie epoxy anchoring system. Affixed some 5/8” thick stainless steel studs, attached a double-thick 2x6” ledger board, and bolted the ledger board in place with stainless steel hardware. On most deck installations, if you’re attaching the deck ledger board to the existing house ledger board, you end up with the proper double-thick ledger. In this case, a single ledger board wouldn’t have provided the thickness for 10d joist hanging nails – so it’s gotta be doubled up.
Once the concrete had dried, it was time to get to work. The first step was laminating a 40’ beam of triple 2x6. Fortunately I had intentionally spaced my concrete piers so that I could meet two 20’ lengths on top of the center pier.
Used a total of six 20’ 2x6s for the beam which was laid directly across the tops of the concrete piers and bolted into place. With that, I was able to begin work on the joists. Daytime pic:
And a pic of what the girl does when she ventures outside of the kitchen:
With the joists secured to the ledger board by joist hangers, to the beam by toe nails, and to each other by blocking, I was able to frame the stairs. The plans I had submitted to the City included stairs that only walked down in a single direction, but upon starting the build, I decided that I wanted to be able to walk down the stairs from the sides too. When finished, I designed it wayyy more complicated than it needed to be…but hey, it’s ******* bulletproof now.
Ta Da!!! And there we have it!! A finished deck!!
I wish – this turned out to be a much needed “space to step out of the house” while finishing the deck though.
With some time, and a protractor, and a “string compass”, and a miter saw, and some more time, I was able to get the finish shape of the deck completed.
It includes a radiused corner by the (soon to be replaced) “gate” for easy path/access, and a central “curve” area, intended to be filled by a round concrete patio around a central fire pit.
Another days work, some more work with a protractor and miter saw, and deck edge blocking in place
And finally, I get to use “the pretty wood” as she calls it. Deck is “two tone” with a primary color and an accent board around the perimeter.
The fascia board is thin enough to “convince” into place without worry.
Some of the “field” boards in place:
For the dimension of this deck, 2x6” joists must be 12” on center. Putting two screws into these field boards every 12” is a LOT of work. Between the picture above and the picture below, there is about 6-10 hours worth of work – which equates to about 3 days of useable after-work time.
And finally below, the “almost finished” product – I had to wait two days to get the last of the fascia boards to finish the stair riser because I miscalculated by one board. You’ll also see that I replaced the deckboard of the top tier of stairs with the correct darker toned board as compared to my folley on the first pic of that tier completed.
The paperwork box is sitting on top of the stairs waiting for final inspection from Columbus (it passed inspection, of course)
Within about a week of this photo, I power washed the back of the house – HUGE Difference!! We then put some patio furniture on – I was able to relocate the grill from the garage to the deck (thank GOD), and we've been able to enjoy the entire summer outside.
For those who want to know:
Decking: Timbertech Earthwood Evolutions Tropical
Earthwood Evolutions Tropical Capped Composite Decking - Product - TimberTech
(Includes 25-year physcial warranty AND 25-year fade and stain warranty)
Fasteners: Camo hidden edge fasteners with “marksman” jig tool
CAMO | Hidden Deck Fastening System | Marksman Tools