Monday, May 11, 2015

New Deck for the Ship at Anchor

For a while now I've been wanting a new deck on the side of the house. A few years ago I dug down into the earth and made a gravel patio that was too small and too uneven to be of much use. Amy says she liked laying on the hot rocks in the sun, but otherwise, it just became a place to pile the various things that didn't get put away. It was too crowded to sit. You could cook on the grill, but you didn't want to spend any time out there with it.

Last year, when we first talked about the barn, we started talking about a deck as well. It was -- as we struggled to balance our money and time -- a pipe dream. Maybe in the future we'd have the time and money to build a decent deck. Maybe we'd get it done in the next five years -- before Lindsay graduates from high school.

Something got into me a few weeks ago and I was determined. We've had unusually warm dry weather this spring and winter and had occasion to spend time outside. We've gotten a lot done. Of course, whenever you do one project, that just gives you confidence -- and desire to do another.

Pinterest is evil. It makes the world seem possible. Unlimited time and money captured with peak creativity. Great for ideas, but not-so-great if you have other things to be doing.

My basement is a mess, my tools need organizing, the garage is a mess. I have things to write and things to do.

So I checked books out from the library and made some calculations and dug in.

I decided to build a floating deck on concrete "handi-blocks" that hold pressure treated 2x6 wood in four 8x8 squares. The outer squares are cantilevered out over the slope using posts sunk into the ground. If the waters rise really high, it will work as a dock.

It is not perfectly square -- nothing I have ever constructed in my life has been perfectly square, but you don't notice anything now that it is all done. Years of building things slightly out of square despite my best efforts have left me with a knowledge of how to best hide what you just bodged up.

We're still deciding if we want a railing, or perhaps a privacy screen to block the wind that comes around the side of the house. We'll live with a little while and decide.

It is a fine and glorious thing to build something useful, to watch your whole family use it and to know that it will get used for years to come.

This is what I started with. Luckily the gravel made a good base for the handiblocks.
 Under the pea-gravel is packed leveled sand. 
It went fast. After the first weekend, I got enough down where I could take a break. 
If I'd wanted an 8x8 deck, this would have been a one day job.

The back 8x16 section went very quickly.
The front section was a little trickier. I wanted to hide a few little errors while making the deck look more finished. That required framing the first and last boards and then running the other boards perpendicular to the first section. 

You can see the pattern. 

I also had a little help. Grace has her own tool belt and like being my helper. She came in handy while lining up the boards putting the spacer on one end while I lined up the other. It made things go a lot faster. She also got to screw down some boards, but said she'd rather hammer. 

I also wanted to make a path and stair up to the deck so we aren't clambering on and off it. 

I did a little gravel work for a path out of the basement to the deck. 

A nice place to relax after a hard day's work. 
I'm not sure what I'll do about railings. It looks nice open as it is, but I might want a little wind-break on the house side and some built in benches for seating and/or storage. Right now we'll use it as is. The biggest drawback -- it makes us want to upgrade our patio furniture. Oh well.