I picked up the truck and 16 ft. trailer and headed to Home Depot to buy enough lumber to start on the deck.
Home Depot now sells lumber pressure treated with Thompson's. The lumber is more of a natural color and does not have the "green tint" of the old pressure treated lumber.
I also picked up a new cordless drill as the one I have is old and only has one battery. When I opened the new drill, I received a surprise. It came with two batteries and I hadn't even noticed it when I purchased it.
It was about 10:30 am when I pulled into our driveway. I had been planning the deck for several months and I had a plan as to how it would be built.
Plan the job
Plan the work
Work the plan
Seems simple enough, doesn't it.
Since I only have Sunday and Tuesday off, I knew I would need to complete enough of the deck that we could use it. I hoped to complete the frame work, put up the posts, throw enough decking boards on top to walk (even if they were not nailed down)and I could use my pallets for the steps. A lot for one man to do in a day!
The basic frame work would be built on milk crates (just borrowed some from work as we all know it is illegal to possess them). I stacked them two high and had enough to do the job.
I first cut the 2x8x16 down to 15ft. 6in., this would let the 16ft. decking hang over the ends. The 7 2x8x12 were cut into 14 2x8x6's. By using those as floor joists on the inside of the stringers it would give a with of 6ft. 4in. Add to that the fact the decking would hang over front and back and I could achieve my 16x7 deck.
After the stringers and joists were cut, I clamped the stringers together and laid out for the posts and floor joists. I made a mark for the floor joists and put 2 x's where the posts would go. A joist would go on each end and then one on each side of the 4x4 posts. There would be five posts on the front and five posts on the back. As I only need handrails on three sides, some of the posts would not need to be above the floor.
I put a floor joist at each end, then a 4x4 post, another post would be in the middle, I would then "half" that distance and add another post for each "half". You can't just say they will be 4ft apart because they are not. In between each post and joist would be another joist. The line below shows how it was layed out. The "I" depicts each side of the floor joist and the "XX" depicts the 4x4 posts.
IIXXII II IIXXII II IIXXII II IIXXII II IIXXII
As you can see each 4x4 has a joist on each side to help keep it "plum". I layed out the lines and used a square to mark both tops of the stringers and then laid them flat and used the square to transfer the marks on the inside of each stringer.
Now I want to pass on a little tip I use for finding the center when I need to. Just divide by 2. Sure 58 divided by 2 equals 29, but what if the number is 127 and 11/16, not so easy to do in your head. Just use a number you are comfortable dividing by 2. How about 128. While your tape measure is still down just put a mark at 64 (128 divided by 2), now measure from the other end and put another mark at 64 from that end. The two marks are very close together. Now put a mark in the center of those two. You now have the center of 127 and 11/16. Measure from each end again to the mark you made in the middle of your two 64 marks. Makes no difference if the number you use is longer or shorter. If you use a number longer than the measurement as we just did, then the 64 inch marks will pass the center both ways. If you use a shorter number than the total length, then each mark will be shy of the middle by a little bit but the center of those two marks will still be the dead center. Sounds complicated but it is very simple and you can find the center faster than someone can do the division. I never bother to read the fractions on the first measurement, just round the inches up or down for quick division.
With the stringers and floor joists cut, I nailed the end joists, one joist for each side of the posts, and the joists that were between the posts. Just a simple rectangle with the joists inside. I just put 2 16 penny nails on each end for now. I measured diagonally across the two long sides and adjusted until the measurements were the same and I knew it was then square. Now I nailed two 2x4's diagonally across each end to keep it square. I then put screws in every joint ( I was thru using nails, everything would be screwed together).
Where I had my two X's for the posts, I drilled 5/16" holes for the lag screws I would use for the posts.
I then raised the frame to its final height. As the concrete pad is not level, I knew each post would be a different length. Two of the post that would hold the deck and come up to form the railings would be a little over 6 feet but some of the others would be a little under 6 feet, so I knew I needed to cut the over 6 ft. posts from the 12ft 4x4's and use the shorter than 6ft that was remaining for another post.
The wife helped with a pen and paper. I measured from the ground to the top of the stringer and had her add 39 1/2 inches ( the height of the railing). While she was adding I would grab a 12ft post to cut to the right size. I then put the post beside the floor joist and screwed in the lad screw. I put in the four corner posts first, then the middle posts, and finally the four other posts. I then put in the floor joists on the other side of the posts. I then checked it for "square" again and it was still fine. The frame was now suspended by the posts.
After "plumbing" the posts, screwed thru the stringers and thru the joists on either side of the post. They would now stay plumb.
Next I turned to the "decking". I notched out for the posts for the first board and screwed it in place. Time was running short and I knew I could not screw all the boarded down, but I wanted to "set" the gap on all of them before I quit. I used a 16 penny nail to set the gap between the decking boards. I drove the nail thru a block of scrap wood and placed it between the decking boards. I then placed a board beside the that first one and "set the gap" and put one screw at each floor joist (that would hold it until I had a chance to put in the rest of the screws). I managed to get all the decking down in that fashion.
I then built the steps so we could at least use them. They would be properly built another day.
9:00pm and I called it a day. It looks pretty nice for one days work for one "old" fellow.