Group 6 2 minutes Read

deck progress

Lauren Zerbey

Last weekend, with the pesky concrete gone, Kyle started work on the deck footings.

First step – dig holes. 14 of them. I should stop and say that this deck is probably bigger than you think. It’s grown since our initial sketchup design, but is now large enough to accommodate a grill and table and chairs without the worry that someone will scoot their chair back and find themselves in the grass.

So after a morning of back-breaking labor, Kyle covered the bottom of the footing holes with a layer of 1/4- gravel to help set the footings.

Oh hey, remember all that concrete that we jacked up? Well, Kyle had the genius idea to reuse some of it for the footings. Normally, we would have poured new concrete footings but it seemed crazy ridiculous to not take advantage of our cementitious bounty. So we DIY’d our own using concrete pier blocks over “reclaimed” concrete slab pieces. Adaptive reuse people, adaptive reuse.

Of course, the slab pieces don’t have rebar and this isn’t something we would do to support a more complicated structure, but for a deck, it should work just fine.

After the footings were in place, we started the painfully boring (for me anyway) process of making sure everything was precisely level in the x, y and z coordinates. Mathletes, keep reading.

To do this, we used our handy laser level. The laser is high-tech, but our process was not. To adjust the heights of each footing (the footings were set “close enough” and then we used the adjustable beam saddle to get each one perfect), Kyle would stand centered on each footing and I would then rotate the laser till it aligned with his sternum (yeah, he was shirtless at this point). He would then use a tape measure from the laser dot down to the saddle to check the vertical dimension.

For accuracy in the x and y directions, we busted out some old school triangulation. The corners of the house were our “known values” and by correctly placing the two outer footings we were able to set the remaining footings and then use the hypotenuse of a triangle to double-check measurements.

A simple string line confirmed that the saddles were all aligned and ready to drop in our first beams.

Wood, steel, concrete – the architectural trifecta!

This should come as no surprise, but Bailey was absolutely no help during the whole process (the dog wouldn’t even help dig!). In fact, he preferred to sit or stand in your way before sauntering back into the house where he’d promptly deposit 10 lbs. of dirt.

By Sunday evening we had set the two main beam lines. On Monday night, Kyle manned-up and got the ledger board installed after work.

First, he installed large plastic washers to provide a gap between the shingles and the pressure-treated board.  This allows air to circulate and any water to escape, preventing rot.

He then used his right-angle drill to attach the ledger to the house. (The stud locations were determined from the crawl space on the other side of the wall).

At one point, Bailey awoke from a backyard slumber, only to find himself is some crazy MC Escher print where stairs lead to nowhere. His facial expression kills me.

Can you visualize the deck now? It’s going to be big, but it’s going to be awesome.

Initially I was worried that it would make the remaining yard feel too small, but now I think we’ll still have plenty of space. The truth is – we don’t really use our yard that much but I think the deck will change that. Oh, and a fire pit. Definitely need one of those.