Deck Rebuild Project


This project took so much longer than I anticipated – I won’t do another deck rebuild again – at least not like this.

The main issue was that I tried to reclaim most of the wood from the old deck, and use it on the new one.  However, that process added so much time to the project that I now feel like it wasn’t really worth it.

A little background on the whole thing.

I started by deciding I needed to fix my deck stairs.  They were in pretty rough shape.  That part of the project went pretty well, and didn’t take too long.  I reclaimed most of the old boards, sanded and refinished them, and installed a few new pieces.

Next, I wanted to reclaim and refinish a few weathered deck boards.

Finally, after that I wanted to tackle issues in the corners of the railings on the main deck.  Water had gotten in between the seams where the top rail joined, and rotted the wood.  It had really become a safety hazard.

I expected to just pull the top rails off, replace them, and be done with it.

However, when I pulled the first rail off I saw something very concerning.  The water had leaked down INTO the posts, effectively rotting them out for several inches and in some case a foot or more.  These posts were 12-14′ tall in some cases, buried in the ground, and I had no intention of replacing them.

So my wife Elizabeth and I put our heads together and came up with the idea of wrapping the existing 4×4″ posts with 2×6″ cedar – using four pieces per post.  The effect would look like and 8″ post, although there would be vertical seams where the 2×6″ planks met.  It seemed the only logical solution that didn’t require replacing the posts.

Eventually, I completed the project (phase one), which included a horizontal and vertical solar screen.  I had to remove the solar screen on top at one point because it just wouldn’t hold up to the wind, and the vertical one was eventually replaced by a framed version.

Below you can see the stair part of the project – this part was pretty uneventful.

Here you’ll see the main deck before I started rebuilding it.

Below I am in the process of taking off a few boards and minor stuff.

And then, BAM! I uncover the rot.

So I start the project to rebuild the entire deck. Yup. The second photo below shows the difference in a reclaimed, sanded board and what they looked like when they came off the deck.

Here you can see the 2×6″ post wrapping technique that my wife helped me come up with – it really saved the day. You can see that I extended the height of the posts a few inches for aesthetics.

And now the process of fixing all the posts begins. Although I used a lot of reclaimed wood, the new extended posts required a ton of cedar. So I needed a wood delivery in the middle of all of this.

I decided to extend the majority of the posts to build a rather unique elevation on the deck. I originally intended to do a pergola but later changed my mind. This shows how I built the post extensions using a similar approach to the post wrapping technique employed with the shorter posts. My buddy Chip helped me this day, which is one of only two days I had any help!

If you look closely you’ll see me and Chip in some of these pics. We’re working on the posts.

The extended posts are mostly finished here.

More shots of the overall build.

The weather didn’t stop me.

Work continues.

Pretty good view of the almost finished deck surface and the posts.

Seems like I’d been at this forever.

Working on these joists would have been impossible without all my clamps.

A little reward for a job well down.

Finished (except for the vertical bars)! I later removed the tethered solar screens and put a couple of framed screens I built up.

A few more random pics of the job.


Below you’ll see one of the funnier (if you think almost taking your eye out is funny) results of the project. Word to the wise – NEVER use rubber bungee cords when tying down lumber on top of your car. EVER.


photos © Joe Devine

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