Have you ever had one of those projects, that just lingers on and on and on ... and never seems to get done?
Well, that's the story of our decking project this summer.
And by now, we are just decked out.
As soon as summer hit, we knew we wanted the decks done, and got right down to business framing them up.
The big reason decks were priority number one was simply to have access to outdoor space to work on other projects, and to make it easier to go between the two units. That, and if you don't prioritize outdoor work in the summer in Alaska, there's a pretty darn good chance winter will show up too soon.
So putting decking on the decks is a huge priority up at the Momplex.
We opted for a composite deck for Mom. We figured Mom would appreciate never having a splinter while walking barefoot on the deck.
And we'll certainly appreciate never having to maintain the decks either!
We also choose the hidden fasteners decking, which basically means there is a groove cut on the sides of the deck boards and special fasteners are used to hold the deck boards down from the sides. Not only does this keep the faces of the deck boards free of screw holes, but the hidden fasteners hold the decking above the wood joist boards slightly, allowing moisture to escape and dry.
There are downsides though. You have to double up joists where ever there is a butt joint in the decking. And since we are spanning 42 feet - there's no way around it, we'll have to use multiple boards to span the deck.
We did just use 2x4 boards instead of more expensive 2x8s (like the joists) as it's just to support the butt joint, and not for structural support.
Once all the added boards are installed, we can finally start installing the decking!
Like almost everything we seem to do at the Momplex, it starts with a string line. The string line is a deck board out, so we can line the outer edge of the board up with the string line.
We opted to cut the boards on the ground
and then hand them up.
The first row of boards is installed using a starter fastener.
It's lined up with the string line, and covers an entire joist. This is why we had to add the 2x4 joists at joints.
Then the next row of hidden fasteners are used to secure the remaining side of the deck board.
The first board is cut a little long, with the long end overhanging the side of the deck. We'll go back and trim that at the end.
But the middle boards have to be precisely measured and cut to fit.
The last board is cut long as well so we can go back and trim the ends when all the boards are installed (we'll get to that in a second).
Once the first row is done, the next board just slides into the first row's hidden fasteners.
And then the next row of hidden fasteners are placed in the grooves.
And that row is screwed down.
Notice that the drills are at an angle? With the hidden fasteners system, you attach with screws at an angle, so as the screw is tightened, the board is pulled into place.
Pretty slick, eh?
Well, things did get very slick very fast after that.
With just a third of the deck done, we had to call it a day due to rain.
It ended up raining for quite a few days, so we worked on other things inside the Momplex.
And then back to decking ....
Once the decking was far enough out where I felt comfortable standing on it, I helped out with attaching the hidden fasteners. They are really easy to do, and by drilling at an angle, the boards consistently pulled into place just right.
Just in case you were wondering where she is.
After getting another few rows of boards up, guess what happened?
Yep, it rained. Again. For a few days.
And then we waited a few days for the sun to come out, and got another few rows of decking boards put up .. and then guess what happened?
Remember we are Alaskans ... and don't laugh when I tell you the Ram and I got heat stroke from working out on the deck. I know, remind me in a few months of this, will you?
So then we started working on a few boards in the morning before the sun hit the deck, and in the evening when the sun passed.
That took forever, because we would have to set all the tools up, just to get a few boards down, and then put all the tools away.
And then guess what happened????
Yes, we ran out of boards!
And we live 100 miles from the decking board store.
We are officially the worst deckers ever.
So then we had to wait until we made a trip up to the big city with the truck to grab a few more boards.
By now, it's August.
And we finally got the boards.
But then guess what happened?
Why, just a giant wildfire within miles of family property. So the Ram took a week off to fight fire ... and then of course, we couldn't work on the deck because of terrible smoke outdoors.
Try explaining all this to your Mom. By now, she's wondering if the last bit of exposed boards might just make a nice recessed flower pot.
And here we are, finally at the very last board, this last week.
Remember we let the end boards run long? We did this so we could cut them all off at the same time to the same length. We used a string line to mark the boards.
And the Ram cut the ends off with a circular saw.
I can hardly believe this project is done!
Well, we still got to go back and add fascia trim around the deck, then railing and stairs ... but at least for now, we can say, the decking is done.
Have you ever had a project like this? One that should only take a few days, but ends up taking a whole summer?