After I finished my son Jacob's big deck, my daughter decided she wanted me to build her a new deck in Congerville. She wanted me to build the new wood deck on top of an old concrete patio.
This job site is very challenging in that there is no way to get a pick-up truck into the back yard where the deck was to be built. All lumber has to be carried from the driveway in front of the house, around the side, to the back of the house.
Another requirement was to try to build the new deck as close to the ground as possible. She provided two concept sketches for me to start the design work with:
The concept drawings surprised me, because of the size of deck she wanted. It is roughly 45 feet long and 14 to 18 feet wide!!
I considered 2 alternative designs for supporting the structure. The first option was to dig and pour 22 concrete holes with a 1/2" bolt, then attach a galvanized hangar on top of the concrete, then a 6x6 support post. This is the concept we used on my son Jacob's deck......
The other idea would be to set 4x4 pressure-treated posts in concrete, then saw them off to the correct height, then bolt 4x6's to the sides of them. I went with the 6x6 post concept because it worked fine on Jacob's previous project. In retrospect, the 4x6 idea might have gone faster and cheaper than the 6x6 method.
I designed the deck in Google Sketchup.....
Post Hole Digger
I rented a tow-behind post hole digger from Ace Hardware in Fairbury and towed it to Congerville. I then drilled 22 holes for the support posts.
I made a rough cost estimate for my daughter for this project..........
It will be interesting to see how close the actual comes to the estimate :)
I used my son's Harbor Freight cement mixer on this project. I used a string and bubble level hanging on the string to make the top of the concrete 16 inches below the old concrete step.
Starting Wood Construction
The 6x6 and 2x6 timbers all came from Menards in Bloomington. The deck boards are the more expensive grade from Lowes in Bloomington.
A swiveling laser lever is in the $400 neighborhood by the time you buy the laser level and the tripod to go with it. I decided to try the $29 Harbor Freight laser level with tripod.......
I could only get this to work from 0 to 90 degree rotation. Once it got past 90 degrees, the bubble on the top level would not stay level. I gave up on it. I leveled everything with a string and a small bubble level attached to the string.
If I ever do another job this big, I will investigate renting a high quality laser level for a day.
More wood construction
To keep the 45 foot runs of deck boards straight with no "waves", I checked each run with the orange string shown above. I marked every foot distance from the house, then used those marks with the orange string. I also measured from the house to the outside edge of the facing 2x6 on the right hand side of the photo, to make sure it was straight and parallel to the house. This method worked fine, and I had very little taper in the final spacer board on the RH side.
Row #1 was 12 foot, 8 ft, 12 ft, 8ft, and 8ft. Row #2 was 8 ft, 8 ft, 8ft, 12 ft, 8 ft. Then I alternated as I went. This left the joints 3 - 16" joist spaces apart.
My daughter wanted a border piece on the left hand side of the egress window, as shown here.........
She also wanted a border on each side of the step from the kitchen to the deck...
Standard stair design has a 7 to 11 rise to run ratio. She wanted the step wider, so I had to add a 3rd deck board giving a ratio of 7 to 16.5 on her three stairs. Two stairs at 48 inches wide, and one stair 8 feet wide...........
She also wanted a border board on both short ends, and to continue the border on the 45 degree angled corners!
As shown in the picture above, I installed a border piece on the near end. I started each 45 foot deck board run from this border piece. Once I had all the deck boards installed, I crawled underneath the deck boards, and measured out 1.5 inches from the 2x6 frame, and put in a finishing nail up through the deck board (shown in red on the sketchup drawing)...........
I then laid the 45 degree piece of deck board on top, sliding it against the 2 nails. This let me mark the 2 angles that needed to be cut on the angled border piece. I also scribed where the main deck boards had to be cut. I cut the main deck boards with a circular saw. This method worked pretty good on both angled corners...
On the last day of the project, Grandson Caleb Charles Maley came by, to help me finish up the project
Finished Deck Project
Closing Thoughts on This Project
This project took 3 calendar weeks from start to finish. Using the string and line level got the deck pretty level, but renting a laser level could have improved the flatness of the deck slightly. Using a string to keep the 45 foot long runs straight with no waves worked great.
In super hot weather like we had, drink plenty of water, and pace yourself!