September 25, 2013

Building a Deck {A Power Tool Project}

I recently posted about visiting my parents, and all the great and crafty things they have around their house.  Well, while I was visiting, I also helped my dad build a deck (or, he helped me build it ;) right dad?)
I thought I'd post a few pictures of the process, mostly because I am so proud of it.  It was fun to work on: both because I like using power tools, and because I cherish the time with my dad.  It's also great to go back and visit, and see it in good use!

My parents have just finished an addition on their house, and these new back doors conveniently lead to nowhere ;)  After they put grass in, and started on a stone path, they wanted to build a small(ish) deck with a few steps leading down onto the path.  So here is a pic of the floating doors...

We started by building a box out of 2"x 6" pressure treated boards.  The board against the house had 8 or so lag screws to anchor it into the wall.  The box was about 6' x 5', so about every 14" we had a cross beam.  These cross beams would support the top of the deck.

U-brackets held all the boards together.  And let me tell you - these boards were so warped, we had to place each U-bracket based on the specific board we were going to use in that position.  Not what I expected when we had 6 boards cut to exactly the same dimensions!

Before we put the box onto the wall, we anchored two 4" x 4" posts in the ground with 36" of cement. The back of the box was bolted into the wall, and the front of the box was then bolted to these posts.  This thing feels pretty darn solid!

Here -- meet my dad :)
You can see below the end of the support beams that run from the front to the back.  We used Trex for the top of the deck - because it is a composite decking that looks great and won't rot.
My parents have a large deck on the back of the house that they love, and so we used some of the leftover Trex boards from that project, and a few new ones to make this deck (alternating, since they don't carry the same color anymore).

Below: A few (dozen -- my arms are sore just thinking about it) deck screws later, and all the boards are screwed into the top!  There is a small gap between each board for the rain to run through.  We used a circle saw to cut off the uneven ends.  Looking pretty good!

We used pre-cut stair treads, secured to the box with U brackets.  As you can see, we had to add another board to the front, so that we could position the stairs in the correct place.  Let me tell you, the math was not my favorite part :)  The bottom of the stairs sit on a board set on bricks.  Again, this was all to get the correct height and angle.  Dad's T-square got good use during this project!!

More Trex for the top and front of the stairs.  (This picture was taken at night -- we worked until it started getting dark a few times...)

Next came the railing.  Again, 1 word: MATH.  We used Redwood 4" x 4"s to support the railing.  We placed a post in each corner, and each post had to have 3 notches.
1 notch where it overlapped the box on the bottom,
1 notch for the BOTTOM part of the rail, where a 2" x 4" board would wrap around horizontally, and 
1 notch for the TOP part of the rail, where a 2" x 4" board would wrap around horizontally.  The distance between those 2" x 4"s was determined by the length of the metal bars that form the vertical part of the railing (see pictures a few below this one for a better idea of what I'm talking about).

Below, you can see the posts all lined up.  Because they are just notches, and not clean cuts all the way through, we used a combination of miter saw, hand saw and circle saw to get these done.  It took a while.  But they ended up looking great!  And remember: MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE ;)

Those railing posts were secured to the box in all of the corners with more gigantic bolts.  Because we had the decking overlap the box by a little bit, we had to notch the deck boards where the posts were going - so that the edges were all flush.

Below, you can see where the 2" x 4"s fit into the notches.  The corners had to be mitered against the house, and where they met up at the corner.  They fit perfectly though!

And here you can see all the vertical metal bars, screwed into the railing.  As I mentioned above, the distance between the 2x4's was determined by the length of these metal rails.  And I love the way they turned out!

It was at about this time that I had to catch a plane back home.  Dad screwed a board flat against the top of the railing, to give it a finished look, and make it easier on the hands.  Eventually there will be a railing down the sides of the steps too - maybe on my next trip! ;)

I always learn a lot and have a great time when working with my dad.  It was nice to see a big project like this get done while I was home!  And now you don't have to wonder anymore where I get my love of power tools!

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