Day 98 – Completion Anxiety
Hours of Daylight – 15:19
As the evidence of the world going to hell continues to mount along with the body count from London, i can report my deck is finally “complete.” This marks the first major home-related project completion so far. Ok, some statistics for anybody so inclined: The deck is 28 feet long, 16 feet wide, and married to an existing concrete slab. It is one standard step height (about 7 inches) up from the slab and scrupulously level, thus putting it a couple of feet above the ground at the far corner from the house.
Unlike some decks this one does not touch the house, floating 36 inches from the outer wall. We intend to put gravel down on the “path” between the deck and the house. Why did we float the deck and not “anchor” it to the house? Well, couple of reasons: first, i simply didn’t like the idea of putting bolts into the side of our newly-constructed home. Second, there are two crawlspace vents, a gutter downspout, and a hose faucet along that wall that would have had to be accomodated. Third, for whatever reason, i sort of like that the deck is separate from the house… floating freely like a piece of separate living space not unlike the upstairs part of the house. Going forward if we ever decide to “cover” the path alongside the deck it should be a simple matter to attach a joist to the house, a joist to the existing facia of the deck, and then simply lay boards across the span. We’d probably use real wood for the span, maybe in a contrasting color between the house and the gray decking.
Oh, how did we solve the clip issues i spoke of earlier? Well, it was a bit of a kludge. First, my contractor, Mark Fenton, (the guy who looks most like the boss in the photo) hunted down a bit that would fit between the boards and not rip them up when a screw gun was used on the single screw of the clip. Second he found nifty zinc coated torx headed screws that would get good purchase on the joists, but not shine like little LEDS between the boards. The actual process was then set the clips in position on board “a” and screw them down loosly, bring board “b” into position and, using a rubber mallet or similar, tap it up against the clips making certain it is square, quickly screw the clips down snugly, repeat.
The concern was that if one board was not exactly snug, it would introduce an error that might increase as each subsequent board is snugged into place. By the time the last board was ready to be attached the error could be enough that one of the board might not line up evenly with the rim joist. But by working slowly and smoothly and making sure everything was tight and precise the final board seemed to go into place right where it should and the final fascia was attached easily.
So, what do i think of the synth material so far? Well, I like the color just fine, i’m not wild about the faux wood grain, but does add an element of visual interest. Couple of things i expected, but am still a bit frustrated by, first, the boards get very hot in direct sunlight. Ok, ok, everything gets hot in direct sunlight here, but synth material gets hotter than wood. Synth boards have greater density and can absorb more heat than wood. I knew this would happen from my experience at Fire Island National Seashore where a big section of rotten boardwalk in the campground had been replaced with synth material. Walking in bare feet on the wooden section was hot, but not bad… but when you reached the synthetic stuff… YEOW! The opposite was also true, in the evening the synth material gives up its heat rapidly and becomes colder than natural wood.
The other thing to watch out for is scratches and dings. I’ve already scratched up one section a little when i dragged my umbrella base. The scratches are just mild surface marks, but i can see where deep gouges might be possible if i really abuse the surface when it’s super hot and soft. I think some reading up on “repairs and maintenance” would be in order.