...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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A pile of Trex decking has been lying in our backyard for a few weeks. Until the weather cleared for HH to prep the yard for our platform deck, we mowed around it in true redneck style. Then HH rented a dingo to dig out the space in between the two concrete patios off the back of the house.

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HH buried the original overhead electric line shortly after we purchased the house. In preparation for the deck, he also buried conduit for the cable line {seen in orange above – we’ll run it through the conduit and have the cable company come bury the rest past the deck once the deck is complete} and for electric to a future *dream* man shed. Every HH needs a man shed, am I right?

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Next up, HH set to work installing the Trex Elevations steel deck framing. The great thing about this framing system is that it can come into contact with the ground without the risk of rotting or warping – unlike conventional pretreated lumber. It’s ideal for our platform deck which will sit low to the ground.

HH cut the steel ledger board to length with a ferrous metal blade on a compound miter saw. Since the brick exterior is a veneer {there’s a gap between the red brick and exterior block walls} it isn’t structural. Meaning, it can’t support a hefty addition like, say, oh a deck. HH had dug out deep enough with the dingo to tie the ledger board into the concrete foundation. Using concrete screws, HH attached the ledger board to the house. As you can see, the majority of the screws tie into the concrete foundation but not all of them. The top screw in each screw column hits the brick. Had HH moved the ledger board lower to get all screws into the foundation, it would have made our deck lower than desired. We want it to be a small step up from the adjacent concrete patios. He used a narrow piece of expansion joint behind the top of the ledger board to compensate for a difference in projection between the slab and brick.

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With the ledger board in place, next up was the beam at the opposite end of the deck. This beam will support the part of the deck that sits out in the yard. HH borrowed a post hole digger from a neighbor {yay for handy neighbors!} and dug two holes 4′ deep for concrete piers. He busted out his engineering skills and brought home laser surveying equipment from work to precisely position two Quik-tubes within the holes. Cough, nerd, cough. He used some water and a tamping iron down in the holes to get the Quik-tubes exactly level. I held the tubes {my only deck labor to date unless you consider keeping three kids occupied as labor – which I DO!} in place while HH surrounded them with dirt then filled them with concrete. While the concrete was still wet, HH pushed “J” bolts into the top of each pier.

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The next day he was able to attach the support beam.

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He shimmed the beam then secured it to the piers’ “J” bolts with Simpson ties.

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And we have lift off. This part of the deck build isn’t all that gratifying but it is the literal and necessary foundation for what will be a pretty awesome platform deck. Next up? Joists. Are we having fun yet?

Just so you know, I had no idea what the majority of these decking materials and hardware was called until it came time to write this post. I had to ask HH. Ledger, ferrous metal what?, “J” bolt, joist, huh? If you have any questions about this part of the deck install, feel free to post them in the comments section. I’ll be happy to bug HH for more info ;) Stay tuned for more deck progress…

We have partnered with Trex to build our deck. They have provided us with some of the materials for the build but all other materials, designs, labor, injuries, flubs, four-letter exclamations, opinions and reaping of the benefits {i.e. chillaxing with beverages on our new deck} are our responsibility.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

16 Comments

29.May.2013

After all that work, I dare say he does deserve a shed.

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replied on May 29th, 2013

He’s already created a man shed design! But we won’t be ready for it financially for a while.

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29.May.2013

Looking good! Cannot wait to see the finished deck. I’m really interested in the product your using, I’m in the middle of deck planning and low sanding or oiling sounds awesome!

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Our parents have used trex on their current home and former home (step dad is a contractor). They are wonderful and stand up longer than pretreated lumber and as far as I can remember require no maintenance. Our deck is the pretreated stuff, it’s old, we have to replace parts and we’re going to use a deck restore product to stain/seal it which will take forever to do. If we had to rebuild the deck I’d spend the money on a trex in a heartbeat!

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29.May.2013

I’m just wondering what made you decide to have the deck sit higher than the cement pads, as opposed to them all being at the same level? Can’t wait to see the finished product!

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replied on May 29th, 2013

Just to break things up a little but we didn’t want anything too high because our house sits so low to the ground. We think it will be nice to have three areas {dining, lounging, grilling} open to each other but at slightly different levels and constructed of different materials {concrete + Trex}.

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Can’t wait to see it finished!

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29.May.2013

Looks like things are shaping up pretty well! We plan to do a deck in the yard, but haven’t come far enough inside to turn out attention to it. I’ll have to check out Trex next summer.

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29.May.2013

As a fellow professional engineer I got a kick out of the fact that HH broke out the surveying equipment for the deck – I have to admit that I’d probably do the same thing. I think I drive my husband nuts sometimes with our home project because I’m so persnickety about the details!

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I can’t wait to see the finished product. My inlaws have Trex and it’s amazing. Your backyard is going to rock! :)

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Yay for Trex! We have it and love it. And I couldn’t agree more – wrangling kids while the other parent does a project most certainly is WORK!

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29.May.2013

Hi Dana.
I think a grass cloth wall in your master bedroom would be a great idea.

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making great progress! can’t wait to see the finished product!

xo,
Katie
hellolittlebean.com

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1. I’m totally resisting dingo related jokes right now.

2. I cannot wait to see the rest of this project! You guys handle such large project and make it look like a breeze. Not to mention the three kids in tow

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31.May.2013

Can anyone please give me a list of Trex advantages because I am planning on renovating my deck after it got attacked by termites. I have no idea what to do it seems like all the reviews I read are either meant to promote Trex and other are to put Trex on a bad light. I need opinions from actual Trex users. Thanks for the help.

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03.June.2013

Hey HH – instead of “cough, nerd, cough”, I was thinking “cough, done accurately and correctly, cough”. Looks great, man. We are trying to figure out if we want to replace our POS deck with composite decking or put in a patio. Looking forward to hearing how the rest of the project goes. Hope all is well.

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