It’s done. Finally. Whew.

Our deck has been a point of contention between me—the whirling dervish—and Alex — the pondering engineer— since I moved in.

I love being outside, outside, outside. If I could figure out how to relocate my desk, day-job work computer, external monitor out to the deck, I would!

He loves air conditioning.

The original deck was poorly constructed by whom we believe to be a bunch of drunken folks who were unable to contemplate planning, straight lines or long-term results. Time for us to do some deck building.

It’s been falling apart for a long time. Husband replaced a few boards a couple of years ago before a party lest someone put their big foot (his, no doubt) through one of them. I’ve repeatedly re-pounded nails (yes, nails) into the boards lest I walk bare-footed across them and need stitches.

It was time.

I put my foot down. Luckily, not through a deck board.

The planning began in April, with the first de-construction starting on May 14th. Alex began weekly traveling before Memorial Day and hadn’t been home for a full week until last week. We still managed to put the finishing touches on yesterday and call it done!

Here’s how to survive deck building and stay married:

1. Decide what you want.

I spent hours drooling over Pinterest decks, but had to concede that logic should prevail on the design. We decided to tear off the rails and decking and see what kind of shape the frame was in.

glad the joists are ok
glad the joists are ok
Destroying the 1st half
Destroying the 1st half

2. How will you deconstruct? With Leverage!

A couple of different sized pry bars turned out to be the simplest way. Position the small one under a screw or nail head, pound it in tight and leverage against it. Do that along the board and then get the big pry bar and using my body weight or Alex’s forearms, heave the wood up.

4. Getting rid of the old boards?

We opted for the Bagster. Do pay attention to the instructions, folks, and don’t over fill. We cut the boards to fit, stacked them in, made a call and whoosh, they were gone.

5. Do you want the deck to last 10 years?

20? Would 5 be enough? This answer leads to the deck material. We choose premium pressed lumber and metal balustrades.

6. Purchase adequate supplies.

Decide what type of screws — not the assorted nonsense our predecessors used—will work best for your boards and design. In our case 3.5” green deck screws. Although your local hardware store can probably do these calculations for you, the engineer stepped up to compute the number of boards required. He ended up off by two. Not bad!

various nails in one place!
various nails in one place!
only half the assorted nails
only half the assorted nails

7. Green?

To match the deck stain color. Long ago the decks at my Montana house were redwood. For that money, the stain was a clear coat. For pressure treated wood, I indulged in my favorite color: green. Dark, solid green stain for the rails and gates (basically vertical pieces) and a semi-transparent green for the decking (any horizontal piece). Remember to get a tiny test can first so you can try out the color. We skipped our first choice and opted for one darker.

8. Power.

Do you have fully charged cordless drills for the screws (his and hers), extension cords for the electric drill, a square for aligning the screws from board to board, a carpenter’s pencil–or two–a couple of measuring tapes, saw horses, a table saw, a jigsaw for cutting around posts, and a circular saw for cutting off the ends of the board—once they are screwed in. We figured out that was entirely easier and gave a neater edge than pre-cutting them.

identify the tools!
identify the tools!

We chose to lay our boards straight rather than duplicate the bad angled design we inherited. We laid them tight against each other.

nearly there
nearly there

My job was drilling the holes, Alex’s putting the screws in. Ladies, if I ever win the lottery, I am creating power tools with as much power as the big ones, but to fit our smaller hands.

don't forget your safety glasses
don’t forget your safety glasses
gaining ground--or covering it
gaining ground–or covering it

Between thunderstorms, it took approximately 80 hours for the two of us to complete this project. Not bad for non-professionals.

decking done
decking done

Finishing Our Deck Building!

Finding the right deck furniture and a gazebo was an adventure all its own. My quick blurb is: the furniture from Target was simple to put together—I did it alone in about 2.5 hours. The gazebo, also from Target, was a nightmare. But it’s in place now and I’m a happy woman!

Friday nights if you’re trying to find us, it’s wine time on the deck!


This Old House deck building instructions.

Read: Power in a pair of gloves

And, Can you imagine building a castle?