Spongy Softness

The view from our living room and deck was one of the major perks of our house when we bought it. We are not right on the river, but we are just above the houses that are, so we have a beautiful view of the river and the trees that line the far-side of the riverbank. Add to that our beautiful garden, the chirping of birds and the quiet mornings, our deck has become a morning sanctuary.

A panorama of our view..our deck is not shaped weird, just the way the panorama warped the photo.

We knew the deck would need to be re-covered as it was worn looking and the old fibreglass material covering was starting to get holes, but for the most part it was in good condition. A couple years ago, we noticed it starting to deteriorate…and probably should have redone it at that point, but with all the landscaping and work in the yard, we put it off for a few years. After this last winter we knew it would have to be redone this year. There were nail or screw heads poking up, the edge was spongy, the metal around the edge was separating, there was moss growing and around the railing posts it was clearly rotting. There were also a few small holes forming in the fibreglass material.

I knew I wanted to go with Duradek (I am not getting any money for noting this company, it is strictly an opinion). My parents had it on their deck and it comes with a long warranty and is very easy to maintain. I sourced a few quotes and lined up a company to lay the material for me. I had decided to do all the prep work myself.

Here’s one of the biggest things I have learned from this project. I am very capable of doing a lot of things. I learn quickly and have a significant amount of experience in building. That is not meant to come off as egotistical, more confidence in myself to learn new skills. What I needed to learn, and did learn from this is that although I am capable of doing something, the question I REALLY need to start asking myself is if I actually WANT to do something or just pay someone else to do it. This was a project where I wish I had just paid someone else to do it. I know, not really the spirit of a DIYer, but here is the thing; I’m realizing that I’m not really a DIYer and more of a hobbyist. The landscaping is hard, laborious work but at no point have I thought we should hire someone else to create our yard. It is a hobby for K and I and we truly enjoy doing it. The deck is somewhere I just want to chill.

Anyways, back to the deck project. My dad had done his deck, which is about 5x the size of ours, so I didn’t think this would be too bad to do. The company was coming on Monday, so I started the demo on Saturday. My dad was camping and wasn’t going to be home until late afternoon and K worked, but it’s such a small deck (8’ x 20’) that I figured it wouldn’t be too bad. I got started early because the two days I had to do my part was going to be the hottest we have had all summer, of course. By noon it was expected to be 37C, so I was out at 7 am. K and I had torn off most of the fibreglass covering the night before. It came up really easily, just reiterating how good it was that we were finally getting it redone.

The railings had to come off next. Our railings are in 2 large “L” sections. I really should have taken them off the night before when K was there to help me, but unfortunately I didn’t think of that, so I had to determine a way to do it myself. Now, I don’t have a picture of taking the railings down…mostly because I really shouldn’t have done it myself and just barely managed without breaking something. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Basically, through dumb luck, some ropes and grit, I was able to slowly lower the long side down to the ground while the short side flipped over to hook onto the deck and hold it in place until I could get down into the yard to lower it the rest of the way from there. Once in the yard, I lowered it like a ladder, using the rungs to walk it down.

Once the railings were down I could start getting the plywood off and take it down to the beams. Our deck does not have pillars, it is built on the beams that run through our entire house and stick out 8’ for the deck. It is a unique design, but popular in the 70’s and 80’s when our house was built. I knew that I didn’t want to take the soffit out from under the deck if I didn’t have to. I setup a few ladders, grabbed a crowbar and hammer and got to it. By this point it was around 8:30 am and 30C already. We get the morning sun on our deck, which is nice when drinking your morning tea or coffee, not so nice when doing laborious work.

First thing I noticed was that there seemed to be two layers of plywood. The top plywood was in decent condition, so I was, at first, a little confused as to why the deck had been so spongy. It took me about an hour to get the first board up. The first board is always the worst. That is when I realized that the previous owners had taken a shortcut when they had last redone the deck. Instead of removing the old plywood like they should have, they just threw new plywood overtop. I was steaming, partly from my discovery and partly because I was being slowly baked by the sun.

Although K and I are figuring things out with a lot of our landscaping, we are doing our absolute best to do the right things so that we hopefully don’t leave a disaster to be dealt with by whoever buys our house one day a very long time from now. This discovery made me so angry. The even worse part, is that there was tar on the bottom boards which made tearing it down to studs that much more complicated. They had also used tongue and groove plywood (a good thing), which also made the process more complicated. I got all of the top layer off and then worked on the bottom layer. I’m going to stop whinging here. I did it. It took 4 hours and I managed to get most of it up. By that point I was overheating, so I decided to finish off the last few boards that evening when it would hopefully be cooler and when K was home and could help. We managed to get all but the last two up and they were the ones right by the door, so I figured I’d leave it for dad and I to use to walk on the next day when we were laying down the new plywood. We would pull it up once we had a few of the new plywood sheets in place.

Due to being inexperienced, I lost all sleep that night. The beams coming from the house looked good to me, no rot or deterioration, but I kept having dreams that when my dad got here, that we wouldn’t be able to use them and that we would either need to remove the deck completely or have to pay a huge sum of money to get pillars put in and a metal plate along the house. It was exhausting. My dad eased my mind the next morning when he arrived and told me that they were in great shape and we could start getting the deck back together. The only beam that needed to be replaced, was going to be one along the front which did have some rot, but it would be an easy replacement.


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