Stacking the Deck

As we mentioned before, our backyard project has an expiration date: March 16, 2013. That Saturday we’re running our very first 5K (The St. Pat’s Dash Down Greenville) and hosting a huge crawfish boil… in our backyard. We have a lot to do to get the backyard party ready and only 53 days to do it in.

With nine contractors coming in this week, three of which are coming in to quote restaining the deck and fence, we need to have a whole deck for them to quote.  When Structure #2 (aka the Structure with the Black Lagoon) still existed, it was connected to our deck via a small walkway. Now that the structures (and Black Lagoon) are gone, we’re left with chopped up railings and hole in the deck, not to mention that several of the stair treads were cracked and coming apart. It was time for some deck intervention.

deck hole

First, we made a count of how many boards needed replacing. Since they were doomed anyway, we used a red sharpie to X out any that were damaged, rotting, or beyond repair. We came up with eleven deck boards, four stair treads, the railing that isn’t there, and the seat of our built-in bench.

Deck repair replacement

A quick trip to Home Depot to pick up the pressure treated boards we needed left Dora the (Ford) Explorer fuller than she had ever been.

Dora the Explorer

Because the deck had originally been built with nails instead of screws, we had to use a small crowbar to carefully pry up each of the damaged boards, being careful not to mar the rest of the deck in the process. You can see pretty easily in the photo below where the previous owner had cut a hole in the deck to hide his hot tub Black Lagoon pump. Because he had cut away some of the support structure of the deck, we were careful to replace it before adding back any new deckboards.

How to remove nailed on deck boards

We found quite an assortment of puppy toys when we pried up the deck boards. It was a bit of a relief to find them because we had a sneaking suspicion that Indy had actually eaten the tennis balls. Turns out she just lost them under the deck. [EDIT: After I took this photo we found two more tennis balls, a racquetball and a tug rope. Our dogs are hoarders.]

They didnt eat them

Once we’d rescued all the puppy toys from their under-deck dungeon, we started replacing the boards. Rather than use nails as the previous owner had done, we decided to go with a coated decking screw when we installed the new boards. They’re a little stronger than nails and they can be easily removed, should we need to pull up any more boards (to rescue missing tennis balls).

replacing rotten deck boards

coated deck screws

The Little House’s deck has a wonderful crepe myrtle tree growing out of the center of it. In order to accommodate its hole we had to cut a couple of boards at a 45 degree angle. Luckily we were able to salvage one of the old boards and use it as a template for the cut.

how to cut boards on an angle

Because the deck was an odd length (12’9″), we had to go with a 16′ board instead of a 12′. This meant that we had to cut the boards to size. Rather than cut them all individually before installing them (and risking having them be all slightly different), we decided to cut them all at once using a chalk line and our circular saw. It was easy as pie.

how to trim deck boards

In the end, the new section of deck looks great. Too great, really. We’re worried it won’t stain the same color as the old deck, but we’ll have to wait and see what the professionals say.

Deck repair DIY

While we were at it, we went ahead and repaired the stairs on either side of the deck. We still have to extend the butchered railing to the edge of the stairs and replace a few more deck boards, but even with one day’s work the deck looks so much better – I can’t wait to see how she shines once she’s been professionally cleaned, stained, and sealed!

DIY deck repair

Have you ever repaired your deck? Have you ever found long lost puppy toys that you though had long ago been eaten? Don’t you just love powertools?

17 comments

  1. Christine @ Casa-de-Christine says:

    It looks so great!! We just did the deck sanding and restaining this past summer/fall and it was a lot of work. Be glad that your insurance is covering it being done professionally!! The back yard is really shaping up great! What I’m really jealous of is your weather right now. It’s -22C here today before the wind chill…. not cool.

  2. Janelle @ Two Cups of Happy says:

    Oh my gosh! I am drooling over your deck with a tree in it. It looks great so far. My grandfather built a multi-level deck with a tree through it for my aunt in the 90’s and I adored it. I hope, hope, hope I can have one once we finally buy a home. Thanks for reminding me.

    (PS – I clicked over from your YHL comment)

    • littlehousebigheart says:

      So glad you stopped by, Janelle!

      We fell in love with the deck when we first saw it. You should see it when the crepe myrtle is in full bloom and there are bright fuchsia flowers covering it. It’s breathtaking!

  3. anne says:

    Wow! Nice work! Our deck needs some help too. Maybe this post will be the one to inspire us to get out there and start replacing boards:)

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