Monday, August 6, 2018

Deck Follies (redux)

This summer marks the third time I've had to deal with the deck.  I spent a lot of time two summers ago trying to sand it down and restain.  The upper part of the deck, the stain took reasonably well, though there are a couple of individual boards that would need to be touched up.  The lower part never took at all, and I probably should have just used a different stain.  I debated tackling that again last summer, but didn't.  The only thing I did outdoors last summer was to install a porch light, and then in the early spring this year I spent some time fixing the various gates.

Anyhow, I have a bunch of people coming by soon and decided that I really ought to replace some of the rotten boards in the upper deck.  I would not want to be liable if they broke through one of them.  I'd say there are 6 that are in really rough shape, and then another 2 or 3 that probably could be replaced but I'll probably hold off.  I suppose it is fortune that the main part of the deck is based on 12 foot lumber, so no cutting was involved.  However, I had to rent a van to pick up the lumber.

Then I set about trying to replace individual boards without destroying the ones next to them.  It's a fairly delicate operation, not at all helped by the fact that they used 3.5 inch nails while constructing the deck!  One board came out pretty easily, but the rest have been a real struggle.  It's also been incredibly hot this weekend.  I got tired and started making mistakes, including hitting myself in the face with the crowbar when it slipped.  That could have been really bad, and I took a break after that to calm down and get a bit of rest.*

On top of everything else, there are several areas where it is all but impossible to nail the boards back in straight (because the railing was added later for instance and you can't get the right angle to nail).  Then one of the boards that had to be replaced actually had a big notch in it to fit around one of the posts.  I don't have a jig saw, and it is a real challenge doing this with a mitre saw and a hacksaw.  Still, I was doing pretty well, trying to clean it up with a chisel, when I hit a knot in the wood, and the whole top part broke off.  I was so pissed, but decided rather than throw the board away and start over, I would just nail it back together and then nail the board to the post for a more solid bond.  The next time around, we'll probably have to rebuild the whole porch anyway.  I don't think I'll do this individual board replacement a second time.

Anyway, the very worst is over, though I still need to nail in two more boards, then try to tear out two last boards and nail in the replacements.  But these are in areas that I have a lot more room to maneuver with the hammer and crowbar.

I should probably be done with the deck today (though this is somewhat contingent on it not raining in the late afternoon).  I also need to replace part of the railing, but this can wait a bit later in the week.  Then the challenge will be finding 3 or 4 days with no rain in order to put down some new stain.  I might do just a bit of sanding on the boards, but nothing like the last time, which took days and days and days.  I'm hoping that perhaps next Sat. I can stain the upper deck and the railing.  Then see how closely it matches the other sections.  It's all been a huge pain, but it had to be done as the deck was starting to feel a bit unsafe.

* I have been skipping the gym this weekend, but this has been a fairly effective workout, especially for the upper arms.  I'm still pretty sore, and still I have another day to go...

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