Not for the faint of heart

So, news flash: deck building is HARD!! Well, deck planning is hard. That probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but we’ve done quite a few projects and of everything we’ve DIYed, this back yard and deck (or lack therof) has been the absolute WORST! As a reminder, here’s what it looked like when we moved in.

 Back Yard from Right Side

Cuh-razy, am I right?

Now don’t go getting all worried on me. I’m sharing this “in hindsight”, as in the hardest part is behind us (I hope!) But for a while I wasn’t sure we’d ever be at this point! With this back yard, I didn’t have a shred of hope.

Back Yard from Left Side

This has been more stressful and overwhelming than when we gutted our bathroom and remodeled it, when we repainted the exterior of our house in the heat of the summer, all of our popcorn scraping experiences (here, here, and here), and all of our other interior projects combined!

I can’t pinpoint why this project made us both so crazy, but I’ve cried over our disastrous back yard more times than I can count, and every time we discussed a plan for the yard or deck, it quickly deteriorated into an argument. (Maybe because neither of us actually has any idea what we’re doing?) Plus, having no deck where there’s supposed to be one for over 2 years is just insane. Who does that?! Us, apparently.


So to be at this point is such a huge relief, and we’re still making good progress! We didn’t get as far this week as we had been hoping since we spent the first half of the week volunteering for preschool VBS at our church, but after a good ol’ time with some 3 year olds, we’re back to it!

First things first, we made a big list of all the stuff we needed and headed out to Lowe’s to drain our wallets once again. We wanted to have everything on hand so we weren’t held up waiting to get more materials. I’ll do a detailed budget in the future, but this one trip was about $250 (after $90 in gift cards AND our 5% discount). Whew.


So here’s what the deck looked like just a short week ago.


And after a day of hard work with my awesome husband, brother, and sister-in-law, it looked like this!


My sis-in-law is clearly more handy than my brother or myself, so he and I carried and marked 2 x 6s while she manned the power tools and notched the joist pieces.

Since we’re switching to deck planking, we wanted to use more than 5 joists like our deck had before.

Deck planking is thinner than a 2×6 and needs the extra support to feel sturdy. The previous joists just happened to be 2 x 6s, though, so we were able to use the old deck planks as joists instead of having to buy new. Awesome sauce! We should have enough to build the extension part of the deck, as well!

We positioned them exactly a foot apart and Andrew came along behind and secured them with 3″ screws.


They also helped us dig out spaces for our concrete footings, and then Andrew cut 4×4 pieces for them and secured them using bolts.


Later that day, he added concrete around where each 4×4 meets the footing just to be sure it wouldn’t go anywhere. And he installed our new ledger board and joist hanger piece (with more bolts and 3″ screws) for the extended portion of our deck.


There’s the man of the hour, looking exhausted! Boy, am I lucky that he knows how to do all of this!!


On Sunday, we took care of a few other miscellaneous things, like adding this girder piece beneath the deck joists…yet another 2 x 6.


We want to make sure this deck ins’t going anywhere, and we had the extra wood anyway!


We also added the additional 4 x 4s for the railing, making sure each section was exactly the same width, and we’ll wait until the deck planks are on to measure the height.


And last, but not least, we had to add a few little support pieces around our railing posts for our deck planks to sit on.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the fluffy Mr. Chaucer was taking a long nap in the cold air conditioning. Ah, the life of a cat.


We’re working on the frame and joists for the extended portion of the deck now! Once that’s done, we would be ready to install planks, except for one little problem. The red paint shows through anywhere that the planks aren’t perfectly flush against each other! Here’s hoping we can find a grey or brown exterior mess up paint at Lowe’s!

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