A Deck Disaster

I’ve said before that when remodeling or DIYing, things usually aren’t as simple as you think they’ll be. We’ve found this to be true with every project we’ve taken on to date, yet still I’m surprised every time something like this happens. This was definitely true in our laundry room remodel when we realized they had installed the shelves (crookedly) using drywall anchors, leaving big holes in the wall when we removed them. This led to us cutting out the drywall and installing a new piece. It was true of almost every step in the bathroom: shower plumbing, toilet plumbing, granite, you name it. And it was most definitely true today.

Andrew was working under the deck today after work and asked me to come see something. This is what  he wanted to show me.

Though I may have been surprised, I didn’t burst into tears like I did the other times, nor did I shut down and go mope on the couch until I regained my senses. Instead we said “dang” and moved on. It was a good feeling.

These supports looked sturdy to us before we’d dug around them. Everything that was showing above the dirt looked intact. But once we dug down, we saw the true state of our deck. I’m glad it didn’t collapse, and I’m also glad we found at the point in our project where it’s most easy to fix it. It’s already halfway deconstructed anyway!

In retrospect, it makes perfect sense. Last weekend we were working outside and started to move some of the railroad ties that were being used as retainers in our back yard, like this one.

We thought maybe we could reuse some of them under the deck (since the level of dirt under the deck will be lower we need something to retain dirt just at the edge of the deck). But when we pulled them up we realized they were completely rotted and falling apart.

We saw a termite (luckily just one) crawl out, and we also saw a few roaches. Gross! That’s when we decided it was probably best just to get rid of them. We do NOT want anything that attracts termites or roaches near our house. We went to Lowe’s and picked up some cinder blocks instead. See how close some of the ties were to the structure of our deck and our house?

In short, if you were considering using railroad ties in your yard, we recommend not using them. They’re not a durable material, and obviously they’re the perfect environment for termites and other pests, especially in a damp spot like where ours were located. We’ve already swapped most of the railroad ties for cinder blocks, and we’re definitely convinced now that our decision to use more durable materials was the right one!

Now instead of just regrading the dirt underneath our deck and replacing the planks after sanding them, we have to take the whole deck apart to replace the supports. Yay for more work and delayed projects! This is what our life has become. And yet for some crazy reason, we love it. 🙂


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