All Hands On Deck {Part Three}

Hold onto your britches, this is a doozy of a post. Why? The deck has been removed and almost completely rebuilt in one weekend. I’m going to be straight honest and say the music I put with this video makes me laugh every time I watch it. It starts slow and then just gets fantastic. Andy is so used to me laughing at my own antics he just rolls with it. That, and he knows how awesome I am. He is a lucky lucky man.

Without further ado: how to remove a deck, in one step.

I feel like the video should be this entire post. I won’t do that to you though. So let’s delve into building the new structure and laying the decking itself. The balusters, rails & final stair treads will be the next and last post on the deck (if you’re just joining in on this super-fun-times project you can catch up first here and here). As a side note, this deck might look narrow in the photos below, but it’s actually a fairly good size. I’ll get dimensions from my awesome man-friend and get back to you.


To start this shindig Andy did all of his measuring and marking and then dug holes for the posts to hold up the deck.

Once he set both posts and made them level, he then removed the vinyl siding on the house, insulation and barrier, so he could put on the ledger. Since we’re re-doing all of the siding on the house it was important to remove it before we put the ledger on. Not only does it create a flat surface, but we don’t want old siding and insulation caught underneath of it.

Andy then did some math, and some more leveling. You’ve been forewarned, there is a lot of leveling when building a deck. A proper deck at least. Our old deck was proof you don’t need to level a deck.

See, I help. My man-sized, or at-least-large-for-a-lady-my-height, hands come in useful.

The dogs kept running out the basement door, which had an extension cord coming out of it so we couldn’t close it. Rosie decided the tractor was a good spot to perch and watch what was going on around her. I had to agree, that black seat keeps your warm when it’s cold out.

Before I go any further, all of the structural base pieces for our deck are from pressure treated wood. Regular wood will rot out over time and it’s bad news. PT is the way to go, but you need to be careful disposing of it as you cannot burn it and do not let dogs chew on it. PT = good deck, bad chew toy and bad wood stove or bonfire material.

After Andy had everything marked out for the ledger, he put it up with some lag bolts. Once it was in and secure he then used this piece of metal and the level to figure out how tall he needed to cut each post to have a level deck surface. I don’t have a photo of this though as I was holding the metal piece and level while he eyed it and did the math out. This was essentially how it worked though. He placed the metal piece against the ledger, I held the level on top of the metal piece and then he measured the correct height and repeated this on the other footing.

Once the measurements were complete, the posts were cut and put in.

Then the first of the structural support beam pieces went in. He made the beam by notching the posts and sandwiching two pieces together with pieces in between and on each end which added rigidity. If any of those terms are wrong, do not blame Andy. He is outside, and Rosie is just a dog who does not know construction terms no matter how many times I ask her. Before he added the final rigidity pieces in, he cut the two beams to the exact size so they would be the same length as the ledger.  Then Lee came over to help Andy with the deck. You might remember Lee briefly from a post on our addition foundation a long time ago. He and Andy work together, and Lee is a cabinet maker by trade and a good guy and his family is awesome. They also live close by which is a double bonus.

Lee helped Andy out for a while, while telling me he would turn the back hayfield into a couple golf holes, which makes every ounce of my DNA cringe, and makes him laugh. I’ve threatened withholding home cooked food if he keeps it up. I’ve informed him good healthy agricultural land should not be anything other than good hearty land. It should be farmed and used for agricultural purposes. The boys then laughs because clearly even Lee knows what buttons to push.

Andy once told me I have an “easy” button in the middle of my forehead. Like the big red “that was easy” staples button. He is no longer allowed to tap my forehead and say, “that was easy” when he gets me going. That happened about three times before he got “the look” I inherited from my father and a stern “knock it off”.

The boys called it quits around five so we could get ready to go to a friends local fundraiser, and Lee could have dinner with his family. I even did my hair (sort of) and makeup. I actually looked like this after. I normally look like your friendly bridge monster on the weekends, which Lee can attest to. The poor guy had to see it…two days in a row. I am yet to decide if my poor husband is immune to it yet, or if he’s secretly suffering. Or if he just thinks I’m a babe no matter what. Let’s go with that one.  I should tell you that after eight years together I still think my husband is still handsome as the dickens if not more so, but particularly first thing in the morning. I’m not sure he even knows that. He will now.

Clearly I do not use Photoshop and I’m not a damn bit ashamed about it. Wrinkles, scars and marks? You bet.

I am so off base here right now. I really need to get back on track. Deck post.


After Lee and Andy had finished the basics of the structure of the deck, Andy got back to work putting the structural support for the actual decking in. Then.

Then my friends – decking!

About this time, Lee came over again to help Andy put the rest of the decking on. So let’s just fast forward to that part. Oh wait, but first I have to tell you that Andy apparently saved every screw from when we first got the decking so he could re-use them and so they would match perfectly.

Yep, he saved all of the screws. Even the one I’ve lost. It’s the screw he holds nearest and dearest to his heart.

I wouldn’t say I was concerned by any means, but I was just curious what it would be like to have synthetic decking. It. Is. Fantastic. I’m serious. The upside is that it is so smooth, and comfortable on your feet. I truly love it. I love not having to worry about splinters anymore, and I just love how it feels on bare feet. The downside is that the dogs left marks in it in no time, and it’s expensive if you have to buy it. The expensive part is the reason we won’t be putting it on our full length porch on the other side of the house, unless we somehow score a ton of it for free again but I doubt that.

Once the decking was on it was time to build stairs. Because of the way the stairs are in relation to our walk way it was a wonky calculation from what I gathered between Lee doing math on a scrap piece of wood and Andy running scenarios on his computer. They ended up with a comfortable set of stairs to work with and got to cutting it out. First was the test fit to see how well their calculations worked out, before fulling cutting the treads out.

They nailed it on the first time, and Andy cut the treads out. While he was doing this he gave me a tip for you guys. It’s real easy to use a skilsaw or sawzall to cut these, but your bound to over cut or go off course. He recommends cutting treads almost all the way with a skilsaw but leaving just enough to hold it, and then using a handsaw to cut the rest of it out. It’s more work but you will get a cleaner and nicer tread with very little risk to over cuts, which you will see in your staircase.

Another simple common sense tip is once you have one side of your stairs cut out perfectly don’t bother trying to re-draw everything on perfect for the other side, just use the correct side as a template.

After the boys were done with this, they got one side up using a hanging metal brace specifically meant for this purpose, Andy said it’s called a Simpson Strap, and then put the other side up and leveled it.

The boys had me take this photo because they got it level the very first try, or as I believe they called it “nuts on” (sorry Gram). Boys. Also, the walk way is not square to the stairs and that’s something we’re saying “who cares” about right now, and will likely not care about for years to come. Once we get the house finished and work a little more on the landscaping and hardscaping we’ll probably take the stairs off in one piece and fix the path to be square, but for now…meh.

After a while the attention spans were going. So out came the tractors. Specifically, our 1969 Holder from Eddie Nash in New Hampshire which has a story all of it’s own for another day. Lee does not own a tractor. Lee should own a tractor. This photo proves why.

This is about where this post ends. The boys used the old treads from the previous stairs as temporary treads for these stairs. On a side note, does anyone remember how delicious Columbo yogurt was? Especially the vanilla?For now here’s a reminder of what we started with and where we are now. I love it already and it’s not even done.

Oh, and Rosie likes to run full tilt from the house, over the deck and launch into the yard. Launching is sort of her thing, and I’m pretty sure she thinks we made her a giant launching pad. I’ll let her have it, for now. She’ll be pretty upset when those rails go on.

I, on the other hand, will be thrilled. Counting down the days to a nice dinner and a cool drink on the new deck. I have the best husband in the history of husbands. Lee’s pretty cool too.



4 thoughts on “All Hands On Deck {Part Three}

  1. It already looks a million times better! That old deck = yikes!!! I was quite amazed with those tractor skills and how it stayed intact.

    I can imagine Rosie will be upset when those rails get in the way of her launching pad. Bella likes to launch off our patio steps, I bet she would be in heaven with a rail-less deck. Funny thing is, she doesn’t always look where she is launching off to (especially out at the ranch)…launch fail. Launching with labs is very entertaining.

    1. Doesn’t it?! That old deck was total yikes. I told Andy I can’t even believe we lived with that for so long. I think I might feel the same way about our house, hah. The boys got tractor skills, no doubt about that!


  2. Love the deck! We’re putting one in Memorial Day weekend. Excited and a little scared. I hope it comes out like I envisioned. Is your turning out how you wanted? Side note – Columbo yogurt was very yummy… 🙂

    1. Hi Meghan! I wasn’t quite sure what to envision to be honest, but so far so good. Andy put up the rails last night, so I have another post on the way! I was honestly expecting to only have one more post about the deck, but it might turn into two more! We put chairs out last night and ate on the deck and I really love it. The synthetic decking is (surprisingly) my favorite part. For no good reason I had always been weird about it, but my mind has been changed. I’m a big fan of being barefoot, so the fact I can’t get a splinter is awesome (and it’s super comfortable, which is weird to say but true).

      Good luck on your upcoming deck-venture! 🙂


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