email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Thursday, July 3, 2014

New Deck, Part 3

The deck is complete!  This is actually from yesterday, because there are too many pictures for a single post and I was just TOO DAMN TIRED to post yesterday.  So today's work will be in tomorrow's post.

The construction team was just 2 guys - JR and JT.   First order of work was to remove the old ledger board (holds the deck to the house foundation), cut away vinyl siding, and attach "flashing" to the house (keeps rain out).
Then a new bigger ledger board was attached.  I was surprised.  They used bolts closer than I did on the original deck and all my friends accuse me of "over-engineering"  everything I build.  Seriously, I always figure "if 2 screws are good, 3 are better".
What they did next, though, REALLY astonished me.  I build from the ground up.  Who doesn't?  Well, these guys don't, that's who!  They built the basic shape of the deck floor up in the air, supported at the corners of the ledger board and just 2 temporary boards.

I asked why (that's why I stayed outside for 2 whole days - to learn things).  They do it because it is easy to slightly adjust the deck floor box square when it is still flexible.  After the support posts are in cemtny, there's no changing things!

Forehead slap!  Of course.  And because we had talked a little carpentry, they asked if I knew how to make sure the box was square.  I said "sure, measure the diagonals".  I got a "high-five" (and a little casual respect) for that one!
But not even the professionals are perfect!  When they started to put the joists between the ledger board and the end cap, they were too tight.  I pointed out that the end cap was bowing out so their measurements were wrong.  They scratched their heads for a moment and had an "OOPS" moment.

See, the outside measurements of the deck box have to be 16' exactly.  So the senior guy (JR) had of course deducted the thickness of the end cap when he cut the joists to fit inside the box.  But forgot to deduct the thickness of the ledger board!  LOL!  Oh did he catch flak for THAT from JT.  And I got in a couple of friendly-kidding remarks later about that, which he took in good humour.

So after recutting all the joists anther 1.5" shorter, they were back in business.  Then I saaw a new surprise!  There are metal hangers to hold the joists to the ledger board and endcap.  Naturally, I would think you would attach the hangers to those and then set the joists down onto the hangers.  OF COURSE NOT!   They used a nail gun to hold the joists in place and then put the hangers under those tightly.  This is all contrary to my basic understanding of construction (and gravity, for that matter), but that's why THEY are building the deck and not me.  Me - 2 decks, Them - 200+, they weren't sure.

So here are most of the joists in place (I had to keep reminding myself; take pictures, take pictures).
THEN they put in the support posts.   I was getting the logic of it by then.  You only know where the posts and beams go when you REALLY know where the interior corners of the deck box are so you can push the posts up from below, put carriage bolts into the posts and beams, and THEN pour the cement into the holes to support!

The corner of my brain where my "Learned From Dad" experiences reside are all screaming "this is all bass-ackwards", but what I'm observing says "outside your box, watch and learn"!  So I shushed the Dad Corner and learned...
So here is a "support" post hung from the deck box, with cement poured into the hole.  Then when the cement hardens, it all flips around and the posts supprt the beams, which support the deck box, etc.  I'm still stunned.
This is the COOLEST gadget I don't own!  It clamps across a deck board, spaces the boards apart evenly 1/4".  Then you set a screw in the front and back holes (which are at angles), and drive them in!  The spacing is perfect every time and the screws are invisible.  Oh MAN, I love well-designed tools.

I also loved the screws.  In the old days, there were just straight-slot screw-heads.  Then there were   Phillip-Heads (an X).  Then there were square heads (which I use myself), then star-shaped and even "tork" which has 7 or 8 sides.  All the harder to slip the driver of the screw.  The guys use star heads.  But it this gaget that makes things so much easier.
Finally (yesterday), they attached the stair tread supports.  I am vaguely bothered by the deep cutouts on these pre-made stair hangers.  They just seem like they could break where the board is narrow.  When I built my steps on the old deck, I used solid 2"x12" boards and supported the treads on cleats attached with 1'2" bolts.  But I have to admit that 4 of those pre-made forms adds a lot of strength.

Still, I may add "sisters" (additional boards screwed to the sides of the preforms) the later. But 4 of those only a foot apart does look pretty sturdy.
Tomorrow, the completion!


Megan said...

I didn't follow all the ins and outs, but building a deck from mid-air down to the ground does seem rather, ahem, 'innovative'! Still, these are the experts. Looks like a good job, too.

Sydney, Australia

Megan said...

PS. Mark - I'm afraid you've been scooped. You're making us wait until tomorrow for the final instalment, but Iza has already posted pics. Ha!

Sydney, Australia