This will close out the posts on the deck unless in the very near future I have to replace the deck for some reason. I'm certainly hoping that is not the case, though there are a few individual boards that I may look into replacing. That seems like a task for professionals, though I suspect they would say it is more cost effective to replace the whole upper deck. (In contrast, the lower deck seems in very good shape.)
I should actually start off with a report on the work crew. There was definitely more than a little miscommunication, and I didn't care much for the project manager, though the workers were very satisfactory when they were actually here working. I had booked some time off work and asked to work from home another day. It basically took a day for the materials to arrive, and then all the indoor tasks were done in another day. It was a huge relief to find out that they could put in a legal hand railing right on top of the existing wall. It would have been a huge mess to tear out the wall, and then rebuild it and paint it etc. It would definitely have meant they would have been working in the house while I was travelling, which was far from ideal, so I'm really glad it worked out.
There was some mix-up over the stain and who was doing what, and I ultimately decided to do it myself rather than wait around for another half-day. I think it came out pretty well (the extra paper is there just to avoid drips, but I managed to keep things tidy).
It basically looks as if it has always been part of the stairs, which is incredible. I think we'll finally be able to invite some of the neighbours over soon, and they can see how the house has been updated, generally in modest ways.
The outdoor task was to staple some chicken wire around the bottom of the lower deck to try to convince raccoons to move along. We have been very careful not to leave food scraps out, but the lower deck was still super inviting for their siestas. There's no question this wouldn't keep them out if they were totally determined to get in (or rather under), but it might be just enough to get them to move on into another yard, ideally the next street over...
I've been keeping an eye on the wire, and so far it hasn't been disturbed, so fingers crossed. I did see a big pile of racoon poop on the deck this morning, but it might just have been their calling card, letting me know how they didn't appreciate me messing with their den. They stopped just short of the area where the new stain had been laid down, so maybe staining the deck will also change the smell of the deck enough to dissuade them from coming back, which would be an extra bonus.
This weekend looked like an ideal one to go ahead and stain the lower deck, since there is no rain in the forecast until next Wed. or so (and it was much less hot than the previous weekends have been). I did get a somewhat late start, and only my son wanted to take part this time around. So I didn't finished getting the first coat on until 4:30 or so.*
Here are a few photos of the work in progress. I actually had to get a ladder out to reach a few sections, and we stained the sides of the stairs, which clearly hadn't been done the last time around.
I came back around and took care of the steps and the railing that goes
around the deck. Those are some of the trickier bits. I thought about
pushing on, but my arms were tired, it was getting kind of dark, and the first coat was still quite tacky. I think I should be able to wrap this up in 90 minutes to 2 hours tomorrow, and then I'll be entirely done. Yea!
I'm debating whether to get a small charcoal grill and perhaps a hammock, though since the season is almost over, I might just wait until next year. On the other hand, if there are some really good sales, that might be enough to convince me to go ahead and get something now. Again, I am not entirely sure I've gotten them out of my yard, but I am definitely planning to use the lower deck more now that we have put in all this effort and hopefully reclaimed it from the raccoons.
Update (9/4) - Well, perhaps it should not be a surprise that there was a small snag. I ran out of stain at the end. This deck has used up 4 full cans of stain! They don't sell a smaller version, and I decided for the time being to leave the corner with just one coat of stain and touched up just a few places that looked particularly thin. Had I not stained the backs of the stair risers a second time, I probably would have had enough. But sometimes it is just time to say: this is good enough. That's where I am right now with this project.
* It turns out that there is no matinee of Glass Menagerie this weekend, though there will be some next weekend. I guess that actually worked out for me, since otherwise I would have had to leave the job half done or lost out on the ticket. It's looking like I will go tomorrow for the evening performance.