Today at dusk the last screw went in along the last chalk line – save the edge and railing, the first deck is done!
It looks gorgeous, actually, with the boards laid diagonally so they take your eye out over the creekbed and into the trees, but it did take longer than we expected. Our process turned out to be:
- Measure the length
- Choose the plank (8′ to 16′) that fits best with the least wastage
- Measure and mark the plank
- Cut and place the plank, using a construction pencil at each end to make sure we are gapping evenly
- Drill 4-6 holes, depending on the length of the plank – two at each end, and two somewhere in the middle
- Change out the bit, and drill the countersink
- Screw down
And that assumes we measured correctly, which we don’t always do. Also the longer boards have an extra step – many are a little warped, so we tack them down at each end and then use a crowbar to make sure the gap in the middle is symmetrical with the ends, with one person holding (and straining at the crowbar – Cumaru is STRONG) while the other drills and screws.
Once we got them all down, we snapped a chalk line along each joist and double drilled and countersunk screws along each length – two per plank on each joist.
My sisters keep asking me why we are working so hard – why we don’t just have The Guys build the decks. The Guys keep asking too – we think they like outdoor work more than indoor work, and the comparatively quick work of deck construction more than the slower, more painstaking work of repairing dry rot. The short answer is that we just can’t afford to have The Guys do everything. The longer answer is that we wanted a project. We wanted to learn. We want to have some skin in the game. And the reality is that building a deck – unlike plumbing, electricity, or taking out a bearing wall – is something we can do, albeit slowly.