A Bigger Deck (Good thing I can spell ;)

Another month went by without us blogging.  Amazing how life does that.  I’m glad that we thought of this blogging idea, because without this blog I would have forgetten quite a bit of this whole process.  I would’ve remembered the big stuff; a new kitchen, torn down buildings, and a backyard.  Yet, I would’ve missed all the pictures of people helping us out, the thoughts, and time that went into each project, and, of course, the “before” pictures are just amazing to look at now that we have lived here for almost a year.

Anyway, on to the update.  We have a bigger and better (more satisfying?) deck! This was one of our more ambitious “do it yourself” projects.  A deck is something you really don’t want to do wrong.  Luckily, our contractor had built a solid small deck.  The plan was basically to replicate what he had done, adding square footage in two directions. And, that is generally what we did.

This all began in late July/early August.  Laurel went to a work conference in Kansas City.  So, naturally, Todd stayed home and worked himself to the bone for the betterment of his family, while watching the new puppy… not so much. Actually, Patch stayed with us for the week while he was moving into his new place (and because I’m not sure how to function on my own anymore and Laurel gets worried). Honestly, Laurel was missed, but I got to use all kinds of awesome tools!

Image 10

Here is a good “before” picture for reference.

Now, my plan was to build the deck.  I calculated the materials with Gerry (of course) and then I set off to Home Depot and Economy Lumber to purchase the lumber and trex (composite decking). The trex was actually special ordered two weeks before.  So, my first step was to… CALL FOR HELP!  I’m a teacher, not a contractor!

I called Gerry and my Uncle Tom.  Gerry knows how to do everything I’ve ever had a question about, and Tom is amazing with construction.  He is a retired Police Captain who has built many houses with Habitat for Humanity.  I have done quite a few things, and I am beginning to feel comfortable with small projects, but this project was ambitious, and I was so thankful to have expertise present.


Every-other board! This made for fun walks into the kitchen…

We began by dismantling what was there.  The reason was twofold:

1. We wanted to see how our contractor built the deck.  How far apart were his joists? Where is the weight carried?  How did he build the stairs?

2. I wanted to make sure that there was not an obvious “line of extension.”  I wanted the deck to look like it has always been this size. So we took up every-other board and put them aside for later.


This is the extension of the main beam. I swear, it is bigger in real life!

Then we  got to work, the next day, planning and making cuts.  We planned in a bench and a trellis, to give it a finished look.  These had to be accounted for early on.  We then set posts in the ground for 2 days, and built out the structure (extended the joists) for 1 more.  Building out the structure meant extending the main beam (left) and adding joists to be able to add the decking material to.  Plus, we had to extend the joists out towards the driveway.  IMG_6965


Uncle Tom planning the next moves


Two extended joists on the left can be seen here. Plus, the bench posts are set.

So, after about 4 days, we had something to show for our work.  I had very naively hoped that we could finish the deck in 5 days.  I’m ridiculous with my time estimates. However,  with the help of Gerry and Tom and Patch, we had half of a new deck! Patch was instrumental in replacing boards and drilling them down- he became a well-oiled power-drilling machine.  I was busy telling myself I wasn’t afraid of table and miter saws while make lots of cuts.  I still have 10 fingers! So, that night I got ambitious and started, drilling down boards.  I got pretty far.  I was trying to impress Laurel, and the picture below was when I called it quits so that I didn’t bother the neighbors with loud drilling sounds!IMG_6975  I got all but that last corner!  So, that is what it looked like when Laurel got home.  We then went on a trip to Seattle and Portland for a week.  When we came home (early August) it was school set up time.  Except, for me, it wasn’t.  I had moved districts but due to some strange contract issues I couldn’t start working at all until 2 weeks later.  So, it was deck building time again!  Gerry and I set to work on the stairs for days, and they were technical but we got them done. The trellis got finished in one day, thanks to Gerry and Tom.  The bench got done in September.  All in all, we are SO happy with how everything turned out.  We also are incredibly thankful to Tom, Gerry, and Patch for all of their hard-work over multiple days. Below are the finished pictures.  Thanks for reading!  -ToddIMG_7117 IMG_7128 IMG_7130IMG_7374IMG_7347 IMG_7132


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