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We've had a few deck threads recently. I built a deck this summer/fall and I thought I'd share a few things I learned. I live in the PNW, so durability and ease of maintenance are important. My plan was to have an upper 8X23 deck which is accessible from a sliding glass door in the living room, and a lower 14X14 deck, that connects with the upper deck via stairs. The new deck replaced an existing 12x12 cedar deck that was at the end of its life.

I selected Tigerwood for the deck material (actually the wife did). Tigerwood is a South American hardwood known for its resistance to rot. It is also quite spectacular looking. It is not cheap, so I used PT lumber for the frame, and cedar for the posts, lattice, and fascias.

On the recommendation of the lumber guy (Issaquah Cedar), I used 1x4 decking, as opposed to 1x6, with the notion that 1x4 gives more open area for drainage. Although it didn't need much, I sanded all the decking and treated it twice with Penofin prior to installation. I then did third treatment after everything was put together. The lumber guy offered to spray on the Penofin at the yard for $200. Might have been worth it in hindsight.

I used hidden fasteners which require grooved decking, which is available at no extra charge. The fasteners themselves however were about 60 cents each, which translated to about $800 just for fasteners. The result though is quite good and worth it in my opinion. It gives the deck a very clean look.

I went with cable railings for rails, with cedar posts and a 5/4x6 Tigerwood toprail. The cable railings gave it a very clean look and the top rail is big enough to comfortably set a drink on, which what everyone does with the toprail anyway. The cable railings were surprisingly time consuming to install (although there was a steep learning curve), and wound up being pretty expensive. But it does give a clean look and they are low maintenance so it fit the design criteria. The cable railing guy loved how it turned out and asked for some pictures for his website. The next door neighbor is going to update his deck with cable railings too.

In a prior thread somebody recommended a board straightener. Boy howdy, that's a good idea. I did about three boards using a 2x4 to bend things my way. Get the board straightener.

When the smoke cleared, I exceeded my budget by about 45% and it took about twice as long as I anticipated. But it turned out better than I hoped for. Here are a few pics:

https://plus.google.com/photos/114730765701594126482/albums/...
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What a beautiful deck x 2. The wood is perfection. I really hope you enjoy this for a long time.

Now, as to the former cedar deck. Here in SC, many of the old plantation homes (including my former husband's family) were built using cedar posts. Those posts have been there more than 100 years, showing no signs of rot, only the changing of the cedar color. In fact, they look like the tree was cut with no finishing. (Unlike Tara of Gone With The Wind.) It's astounding how those old cut cedar trees have lasted. Why did you former cedar deck deteriorate?

Donna (who knows that cedar also repels termites and that's a real plus here in the humid South)
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What a beautiful deck x 2. The wood is perfection. I really hope you enjoy this for a long time.

Now, as to the former cedar deck. Here in SC, many of the old plantation homes (including my former husband's family) were built using cedar posts. Those posts have been there more than 100 years, showing no signs of rot, only the changing of the cedar color. In fact, they look like the tree was cut with no finishing. (Unlike Tara of Gone With The Wind.) It's astounding how those old cut cedar trees have lasted. Why did you former cedar deck deteriorate?

Donna (who knows that cedar also repels termites and that's a real plus here in the humid South)


Thanks for the kind words. The problem with the old deck was the deck boards themselves, which were pretty much done. Some of them were starting to split and even rot in a few ares. The cedar posts and 2x12 frame was still in pretty good shape. I thought about resuing them, but ultimately decided just to go with new. I salvaged all that stuff and I'm going to use it to build raised beds. It was interesting how much denser the old cedar posts were compared to the new ones.

I'm not quite sure how old the deck was. I bought the house in 1995 and the deck was already there. By bizarre coincidence, I sold a paint sprayer on craigstlist to a guy who owned my house back in the late 1980s. He thought the deck was there when he owned it, so the deck lasted a good 25+ years, which is a pretty good life span in this climate.

I tried to clean and treat the old deck every year, but I missed a few years here and there and I might have been able to squeeze another year or two. But I'm satisfied I got a pretty good life out of it.
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Hey sykesix ,,,

" It was interesting how much denser the old cedar posts were compared to the new ones. "

Well, that is the case with pretty much all old wood, it shrinks/dries and hardens as it ages. Have you ever tried to drive a nail into a 25-30 year old 2x4 wall stud???

Also, yes the deck is very beautiful now. I would like to see pictures of it say 3-4 years down the road, after its gone through some winter/summer-sun weathering.

Are you expecting, that the wood will retain its current/new-wood coloring???

TK...
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VERY impressive!!! Looks like a magazine job!

Kathleen
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I went with cable railings for rails, ...

Love this look. I'm always having to juggle my position on my deck to get to see the view. So this is a job to hire out, not do yourself?

IP
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The first things I noticed, besides the beautiful wood, were the deck railings, which I love.

Donna
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That's really an excellent job -- you have every right to be proud!

(If anyone haven't seen the pics, go to the OP and do so.)
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Love this look. I'm always having to juggle my position on my deck to get to see the view. So this is a job to hire out, not do yourself?

You can definitely do it yourself. It isn't "hard" but it requires planning and there are a few tricks and such.

I got the railings from this guy:

http://www.cablerailings.com/

He was pretty helpful and talked me through the whole thing.
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Thanks! Bookmarked for future renovations.

IP
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Great looking deck. I personally like openness the cable railings provide, but be aware they may not meet code for resale. In my location, rails need to be vertical. Horizontal ones are a climbing hazard for little ones. Says one who occasionally uses his horizontal rails as a ladder.
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Great looking deck. I personally like openness the cable railings provide, but be aware they may not meet code for resale. In my location, rails need to be vertical. Horizontal ones are a climbing hazard for little ones. Says one who occasionally uses his horizontal rails as a ladder.

I had heard that, but I checked and horizontal is okay. At least for residential around here. Code says that a 4" sphere cannot pass through the railings, so the rails are 3" apart and tensioned to that requirement. The only trick is that on the stairs the bottom rail leaves a larger gap than that. That's why the stair fascias extend up above the top of the treads, so the proper gap is maintained. Obviously, with vertical you don't have that issue.
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I had heard that, but I checked and horizontal is okay. At least for residential around here. Code says that a 4" sphere cannot pass through the railings, so the rails are 3" apart and tensioned to that requirement. The only trick is that on the stairs the bottom rail leaves a larger gap than that. That's why the stair fascias extend up above the top of the treads, so the proper gap is maintained. Obviously, with vertical you don't have that issue.

On stairs you are allowed a large enough gap for a 6" sphere to pass through. Though that can still be tough to hit with a standard 7"-ish stair rise, unless the bottom rail (or cable) is right above the corner of the tread.
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