Wednesday, December 13, 2017

decking the porch

No, I don't mean in Christmas decorations, rather, we're going back in time to early October.  Blogging, it's magic....

First though, a stop in August, just after my last post, to pay homage to the most perfectly Cromulent of cats.  Crom passed here at home.  He was around 17.  We were devastated.  I lost all interest in working in the yard without him by my side.  Months later I'm still checking the price on his food at Costco and getting up to let him in when it starts to rain.  He and Jack are both buried under the porch - Jack can guard the doors while Crom can watch the world pass by and greet each and every passerby. 

Fast forward to October, and once again Toren's birthday (two!) is spurring a flurry of work.  Unlike last year, the weather was looking to be glorious, and we decided we'd be celebrating on the porch.  The porch that had no floors.  We knew from the get go that we wouldn't be able to afford proper tongue and groove decking. 5/4 deck boards were really the only option, and even these would be quite expensive given how expansive our porch is.  We made sure that we installed the boards in such a way that they could be removed and replaced with better materials when they started to fail. A variety of lengths of premium lumber were ordered based on a scaled drawing we made to minimize joints and waste.  We even paid to have them delivered.  The wood that was delivered was garbage.  While some of the boards were standard boards that got mixed in (a serious issue in it's own right considering they charged us for premium grade), only half of the pieces were usable.  The store manager agreed to pay for a trailer and a hefty discount, so we brought back the junk boards, picked out new ones and came home.  Thus our first day was completely shot. 

Day two started with a yard full of decking, still soaked from the lumberyard (KDAT is a total joke).  We picked through to find the driest boards, back priming them with some high quality deck stain that I found on the oops shelf for a song.  We marked the edge lines of the border to make sure the deck boards hit or overlapped it (to be trimmed later) and squared the first row to the house.  Initially we started using the Marksman Edge tool to install the boards, which advertised no gaps and hidden fasteners.  It was garbage, which necessitated another trip out to the store to pick up the Marksman Pro, which gives 3/16 spacing and hidden fasteners.  This tool worked beautifully and I recommend it, although our decking looks much more deckish with the gaps, which I was trying to avoid.  

The first several rows went in, and we noticed something strange...  Gaps and curves started appearing.  We were distraught.  Careful measuring revealed the boards not only varied in thickness and width by a 1/4 inch from one another, they also could vary end to end by a similar amount. 

To say we were pissed is the understatement of the century.  Our anger must have carried through over the phone.  They refunded our entire $1200 purchase price, and told us to keep the boards.  On the one hand, yes, this was a bit of a windfall.  On the other hand, a project that should have taken a couple of days took weeks with a disappointing final result (although we're the only ones who'll notice the flaws).  We ended up measuring each board to insure the same width boards were used throughout the row.  Boards that tapered were used to fix the arcs that had formed.

Some other notes about the installation... 
-  The bottoms and all cut edges are back primed.
-  The boards meet in a herringbone pattern that extends from the corner of the house through the gazebo.

-  The edges were left long to be cut back when the border was installed.  The curve on the porch was done using a narrow board loosely nailed in the center of the gazebo to mark the circumference. 
-  We routed all cut edges to match the factory rounded edges. 


  1. A lot of work, but it is looking really good!

    1. Thanks! Hopefully I can keep carving out time to write some updates on everything.

  2. I lost my 17-year-old sweetie last year. So, BIG hugs. BIG hugs.

    The first picture is FABULOUS! Just made me smmmmmmile!

    1. It was overwhelming just how many people I know lost pets right around the same time. I need to get that picture printed asap, Crom must always be close at hand ;-)

  3. Kudos to your lumberyard manager for finally making it right, even though it was stressful and took way longer than it should have. At least the material was free, which should take a bit of the sting out of the experience.

    Our critters burrow into our lives and hearts, and the space they leave behind seems like a chasm. Memories help fill the void, but it takes time. (The photo of Toren and Crom hanging out is priceless!!)

    1. Realistically, that money offset a big chunk of the unexpected expense of the columns, but it's hard putting a price on time and sanity!

  4. Hugs to you for the loss of your adorable kitty, Crom was clearly a lovely friend.


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