Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Build Weekend 4

This past weekend was deck build weekend 4. My plans to start early on Saturday morning actually came to fruition. I started at 8AM laying things out. I ran a string to a batter board so that I could figure out the height of my post. I leveled the string with a string level and then measured down 22 3/8” which was the actual distance of my 2x12 joist and 6x12 beam added together. The first 2 posts were almost the same at 5 5/8”. The 3rd post was smaller at 4 ½”.

This past Monday we went to Big Jim’s Bargain Outlet anticipating being able to pick up our composite decking. When I rebuilt the back stairs last fall, they had the composite decking for $1.25/linear foot. Great price and $.50/linear foot more than Pressure Treated for something that requires minimal maintenance. Well, our hopes became dashed when we arrived there and the following problems presented themselves
  1. The price was now $1.75/linear foot. I assume their costs increased because now we are in deck building season.
  2. They are 16 feet long which is good and bad. Good because fewer seams, bad because I need 650 linear feet and my truck with only an 8 foot bed is not going to allow me to transport those home legally. The guy recommended getting a “larger truck” because they won’t cut down that much…RIGHT! The price is higher and now I have to spend another $100-200 on renting a flatbed…no thanks!!
  3. They didn’t really have any decent colors that Tanya liked.

Add to the fact that Lowe’s/Home Depot have 16 footers for $1.84/linear foot and $65 for delivery no matter how much you buy, we left Big Jim’s. But at $1.84/linear foot, my 650 linear feet would now be $1197 instead of the $812.50 I assumed at $1.25/linear foot. I decided against composite decking and much to my chagrin, settled that we would go with Pressure Treated decking.

But then I remembered about cedar decking. I looked into pricing for that but they didn’t have it at the Lowe’s closest to my house, but they did have it at the 2nd closest Lowe’s (within delivery distance) for about $1.22/linear foot! Now we are back within range of my original target price. And it is CEDAR!! Nicer than composite, safer than Pressure Treated and naturally insect repellant. Of course, that means maintenance, but sealing the deck every year is not that difficult. I can roll it on relatively easily.

I refuse to use anything but vinyl railings because painting every spindle is ridiculously time consuming…and pressure treated railings are more likely to splinter and I don’t want to worry about that with children…even if they don’t use Arsenic/Formaldehyde anymore.

So we now have our decking situation resolved and so on Thursday evening, I head to the “Cedar” Lowe’s and place my order for the decking and railings. I schedule delivery for Saturday morning between 7 and 11. This order also contains my post base connections (connect the post to the concrete form) which will be the first things I need as the beam is the very next step on our deck build.

Friday I receive a voicemail from Lowe’s saying that “I am good for Saturday morning and I am first delivery. If I have any problems, please call him”. Well, no problems and that will work out perfectly.

7AM Saturday rolls around, no delivery. 8…nothing. 9…nothing. Ok…Tanya calls and they tell her that there is a note on my order to deliver Monday at 3. WTF, I don’t think so. I tell her that there is a mistake and they need to get me that delivery today! They said they haven’t even pulled it yet. Fine, pull the order and deliver it. I head to Lowe’s and pick up my post bases as I NEED those if I want to make any progress on the deck. Finally at 3PM Lowe’s shows up with my stuff.

We cut the 6x6 posts and attach them to the post bases. Then we stack the first half of the beam and cut it to length (about 12 feet long). Then the 2nd to be stacked on top of that one. Then we use ½” x 12" lag bolts to tie the beam together. Then we do the same for the 2nd half of the deck at about 7 feet long. We ice and water shield the posts and attach the beams to the posts. We then cut 2x6 boards to keep the beam from rocking front to back. The beam is SOLID!

We attach the joist hangers at 16” OC along the ledger board. After that, we put the joists in and by that time, it is 8PM and we are out of daylight.

Sunday morning we start around 11AM. We cut the joists down to size and start working on laying out the posts. We attach our Rim Board with ¼” x 3” lag screws. We install 6 railing posts with 2-Deck Post Ties per post. We install ice and water shield on top of most of our joists but by 5PM we are tired so we stop.

Monday evening, we install the 2 top of the stair posts, squared up the stringers and put ice and water shield on the remaining joists. We also block the side of our posts to reinforce the connection. We level the post in one direction.

Tonight we will install the remaining 3 posts as well as our stringers. Then we will go around and verify that all of our posts are plumb and level. We will install our dryer vent and then all framing will be completed.

So…progress has been made and we are happy with the results. Enjoy the pics.
We also were lucky and our new kitchen window came in and Pyramid Roofing’s carpenter came and finished up all of the unfinished projects this weekend as well. Things are looking GREAT at our house.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Build Weekend 3

This past weekend was deck build weekend 3. I helped my dad install 500 sq. ft of laminate flooring on Saturday, so we could only work Sunday. Do you see a trend here J. This weekend we are starting at 8AM and working until we feel tired enough to stop. Hopefully we will be 90% complete and then I can finish on Sunday J. High hopes!

So on Sunday we started around 10AM. We installed the first 2x12 where the ledger is to be installed as a spacer board to bring the wood up to the same level as where the vinyl siding currently attaches. On top of that we installed ice and water shield. We went up about 12-18”, even behind the vinyl siding and down about 12” below the bottom of the sill plate just to keep things tight. Don’t see a need to cut off the bottom, it will be behind the deck anyway.

On top of the ice and water shield we installed vinyl flashing. On top of that we installed composite decking spacers every 16” on-center.

Then we attached the ledger board. We used 5” LedgerLok’s in a staggered pattern. 3 of them are structurally attached while the bottom 1 was installed to eliminate some of the cupping of the ledger board.

Of course when we tried to install the LedgerLoks, we smoked my plug-in drill. And we noticed that the 19.2V drill that I took home from my dad’s install was a 3/8” drive not the ½” drive that I took to the install. They are both the same model (Craftsman) so I can see how I made the mistake being that I was really tired. We had to install some of them by hand! Not fun!

I have never had to pull a permit for a deck before. I hadn't realized that the first inspection was after digging your post holes…OOPS! Lucky for me, the inspector was VERY understanding and just made me dig down the side of one of the posts to verify depth. He approved my posts on Tuesday and so we are officially ready to go! The next inspection will be at the completion and then hopefully we get the Certificate of Completion!

This weekend, it will actually start to look like a deck!! And I have to thank Anthony and Paul for all of their help with the build. Matt and Mark for the help with the digging of the posts. And for Tanya as she has to take care of Keira while being pregnant and nauseous 24x7.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Deck Permit

For those that are interested in soup-to-nuts information. Here is the information needed to submit for a permit to add the deck to the house. I have removed all information distinguishing location and address, but you get the idea.

You need quite a bit of information. Then there are the fees. My city charges .01 times the cost of what you are building. In the case of my deck, the cost of materials is $2500, so it is a $25 permit fee plus a standard $25 application fee.

You can download the application I submitted by click on the following link.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Build Weekend 2

This past weekend was deck build weekend 2. We were able to only work Saturday because of the Easter Holiday, but a lot was accomplished. I didn’t think we would be working because it was supposed to rain and with the holiday, I didn’t think I would be able to find volunteers. So, I told Paul, Anthony and Mark that I would be digging the holes thinking that 1 or 2 would show up and speed the digging along. I could always dig it by myself, but it would have take at least 3-5x as long and I would have been exhausted.

Because the weather report said there was going to be rain until about noon, I figured that is when I would be starting. In the morning, Keira and I made some Blueberry Muffins that turned out great. I made plans with a friend that just bought a house to go take a look and have them bounce ideas off of me. If I had more time, wasn’t in the middle of my deck build, and my wife wasn’t pregnant, I would offer to help.

I don’t even have enough time to finish my own projects so I have subcontracted some of my unfinished projects out to Pyramid Roofing who has done great work for us before. They are the same company that has replaced my back door and my roof. I think I am a major Pain in the Butt to work for because of the ways I like things done but they worked with me every step of the way and completed the projects how I wanted or even better. So they are going to finish the following projects for me:

  1. Finish the siding on the back door since it only has it on the top half and was that way when we bought the house. Looks stupid and out of place when you look at our house.
  2. Replace our kitchen window so we can finish our kitchen project and build a wine cabinet for the opening.
  3. Fix the ghetto siding job that I rushed through when we replaced the bathroom window. The bathroom window was a new construction window, but the molding of the old window was larger than new J-Channel on the new window, so I had to put some extra J-Channels on to make it watertight. He will fix it and wrap it to match the new kitchen window since they are next to each other.
  4. Fix the missing siding under Keira’s Double Window that I haven’t replaced because I need a long ladder to do and since he is doing everything else, would be easier for him to do it.

So after visiting my friend’s new house and giving them a name of a quality handyman, I came home and it was about 11:00. I headed out to the back to remove some of the concrete pad. If I put my support post around the concrete pad, it would have JUST met minimum code requirements (for my 6x12 beam span) and that made me a little nervous, so I removed 18” of the pad. That took about 45 minutes to get through and remove it. My brother Matt showed up at 11:30 to return the truck and actually pitched in to help with the concrete. About 11:45 Mark showed up and we started digging the holes. I had 2 post hole diggers and a shovel so we could all dig at the same time. About 15 minutes later, we were done!! We never really hit any large rocks and mostly just sand even at a 4 foot depth. We didn’t hit any frozen ground either.

That is when Paul and Anthony showed up to “help digging”. Oops, I wasn’t prepared to be done so quickly or have EVERYONE show up. Nobody likes digging post holes!! So, Anthony, Matt and I went to Lowes to pick up the concrete, forms and gravel. Paul went to the rental place to rent the mixer (yes, I am lazy).

That took about 30-45 minutes. We got back, unloaded the trucks and started with the gravel. We laid about 6 inches in the holes. Then we tried our forms, but of course are holes were a little small, so we got out the post hole digger and widened them enough to fit our 12” forms. We then poured the 5000 psi concrete at about 5 bags per post. We finished around 2:30. Not bad for a short days work!!

Anthony had to leave at 2:30, so Paul and I started cleaning up. We had to wait a little while for the concrete to start settling before we could put our ½” x 12” anchor bolt into the form. That is when I did my final measurement for height and noticed that because the posts were about 6” above the ground, it would create a problem for our deck height of 27” considering my beam is a 6x12 and my joists are 2x12…thus leaving enough space for 3” under that. So, we cut down the forms and removed the concrete that was in them so they were level with the ground. This was far easier than waiting for the concrete to dry!! So we put the anchor bolts in, tied a string to them and sited them in line.

There was impending rain so we stopped there, covered up the forms to protect them from the rain. Then we went back to Lowe’s to order the rest of the framing materials. We are going to have it delivered as it is difficult to transfer 16 foot 2x12s with my 6 foot bed. We plan on doing that this weekend as long as the weather cooperates.

Thanks to everyone for their help! It couldn't have been completed as quickly without you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Build Weekend 1

The weekend of reckoning was finally upon us. After all of the talk and posts about research, it seemed that we would never start construction, but we began actual deck construction on Saturday.

Saturday: Laid out the deck visually to help tweak how it will be laid out and final size. We have determined to build an L-Shaped deck that will be 264 sq ft. The previous deck was 80 sq. ft…so slightly larger.

We moved the electrical and water spigot until we have reinstalled the ledger board.
We removed the vinyl siding to expose the cedar siding. After that, we decided to call it a day – it was supposed to rain.

Sunday: I was going to put the Ledger board onto the house, but the guy that was supposed to help me was unable to come, so I was working by myself. I removed the cedar siding and then the sheathing (which was actually planks since the house was built in the 1950s). After that, I saw the inevitable it seems for my projects. Carpenter ants decided to eat out some of my rim joist. I prayed that they didn’t cause too much damage. Luckily they only ate out about a 2 foot section of the rim board. They never touched any floor joist or even the sill plate.

I removed 6 feet of the rim board and replaced it with a PT board. I used (3) 3/8” Lag Screws per floor joist to secure it. It shouldn’t go anywhere J. I then put some Ice & Water Shield over the top of that.

I have found another volunteer that has agreed to help me out with the deck build. I feel bad for them to have to work with me. No, not the person in the above picture; that is my brother who came over to visit and lended a little hand picking up stuff at Home Depot.

Because of the holiday weekend coming up, I will not be working on the deck. Instead, I will be baking a cake. How is that for 2 extremes, Baking and Home Improvement? If I didn’t know better (or if my wife didn’t remind me), I would think I was the perfect man.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Deck Research

So…Spring is officially here, but it hasn’t been warm enough to actually start construction of the deck. So, for the past month or 2, I have been doing some major research on deck building. Anybody that knows me knows that when I research something, watch out because that will be the focus of my thoughts and discussion until I complete the project. This one is no exception.
We really missed our deck last year after tearing it down so we have decided to build a new one this year. We were going to do windows this spring, but since my paycut, we will wait until fall to do the windows because the deck will be less expensive. Plus, the deck will be far more useful over the summer.

The hope is to have it usable (meaning without railings) by our annual Memorial Day BBQ. But who knows. Building a deck is not usually complicated, but of course, I will make it far more complicated.

My philosophy is to build it right so you only have to build it once. This means going above and beyond “minimum code”. I also try to build things so I minimize the amount of maintenance I will need to perform in the future. This is why I am a fan of vinyl windows, vinyl siding, vinyl fences, PVC trim, composite decking and so forth.

I really dislike the idea of attaching the deck to the house through the use of a ledger board, but because of the concrete pad (only 2” thick) attached to my house, it will be more trouble and work to build it freestanding. If I cut up the concrete, then I could create a problem with water in the future which the concrete holds back. If I make a hole large enough in the concrete to put my concrete form (12” diameter), then water may get around the seam where the old concrete meets the new form; thus creating a possibility of frost heaving or other problems in the future.

That leaves only 1 choice of ledger board. After reading this article entitled “Don’t Build Decks that Rot” , it gave me a great idea of using composite decking as blocks for my ledger board. This would create a drainage point as well as keeping the ledger board away from the house by about an inch but still providing the structural strength of a ledger board. It also gave me the idea of using a roofing membrane on every joist and at the post connection to prolong the life of my wood structure.

I am still debating whether to use 5” LedgerLok® or a lag bolt with a nut on the inside of the house. I am leaning towards a nut, bolt and washer because of the extra pull strength that a nut would provide. The LedgerLoks are great and far easier to install though :) Then there are things that you can use to spread the weight of the deck to more than just your rim joist/ledger connection that I am thinking of using (probably every 4 feet). HD2ADHG but of course these small additions quickly add up.

I also have downloaded quite a bit on code for deck building. This includes span charts, joist sizing, beam sizing, etc… Can’t forget about the StrongTie handout for deck building connections that has all of the connections with pictures and uses.

AWC Code - http://www.awc.org/Publications/DCA/DCA6/DCA6.pdf
Multi-Level Decks - http://www.strongtie.com/ftp/fliers/diy-mldeck05.pdf
Strong-Tie Deck Fasteners - http://www.strongtie.com/ftp/fliers/F-DECKCODE07.pdf

The Lowe’s Deck Designer is GREAT for an overview and parts list. It allows you to do some great designs for decks with multi-levels and then shows you what your deck will look like with beams and everything. It was great and saved me a lot of time. Of course I tweaked the design a little bit and played with different joist sizes to see if the Live and Dead Load changes.
Lowe's Deck Designer (Need Account) - http://www.lowes.com/deckdesigner .

I hope to start the deck this weekend with the moving of some things that are currently in the way of the ledger board (Water Spigot, Dryer Vent, Electrical Outlet). We will lay out the deck with string, paint and what not to get our actual measurements and make sure the wife can make adjustments as needed. After that, I will remove the siding, put on Ice & Water Shield, Metal Flashing, blocking and then the ledger board. If there is enough time, we will start digging the post holes (4 feet down for NH’s frost line). After that…beams, joists, decking, etc…should go up pretty quickly.