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Sue Lowry’s New Deck

September 29, 2009

Sue’s deck began, looking like a small repair job of a loose couple of boards. Once the loose boards came up, however a larger problem was revealed.

In ordering her deck she made an excellent effort at researching materials for her decking and chose redwood decking with a solid body stain.  A bid was given and the deck was built.  Fifteen years later the problems arose.

Even though Sue purchased redwood decking, her deck and the joist under it were both rotten.  The rot on her deck had two main factors.  First, and foremost was the fact that the boards were placed without a space between, so whenever the deck got wet, the water was not allowed to evaporate away from the wood.  Second, was the fact that the joisting was not pressure treated or redwood.  As a result, wherever wood was in contact with wood there was rot.

For the rebuild, I suggested, and Sue chose to use pressure treated wood for the joist, and Douglas fir for the decking. As a precaution we painted all sides of all boards, as well as spacing between the decking boards to allow air to flow around and between the wood.

The hill that Sue`s deck is built on is fairly steep sandstone. She had an Allen block retainig wall built on the uphill side of the deck and filled with pea gravel and planters. Over the years as water and rodents have passed under the retaining wall blocks they had become unstable and were starting to settle. The solution, was to dig a cavity between the blocks and the retainig board of the deck and pour mortar into the cavity, filling rodent tunnels as well as the space between wood and block. There were four other areas where mortar was used to prevent erosion around footings in the same manor.

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The existing block walls were extended and added to in conjunction with jute being placed on the slope to control erosion.

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Another problem that showed up was on her lower deck.  This deck had been here even longer than the upper deck.  The cause of this decks rot problem came through the build up of soil under the deck until the wood was in the dirt.

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The solution was to shovel the dirt into a bucket and haul it up the hill to replace soil that had eroded.

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The new deck had a staggered joint instead of all the cuts landing on the same beam.

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Sue likes to wash her deck, so I left a space between the bottom of the skirt from the deck above and the lower deck. This allows her to sweep or spray debris from her deck into the cement ditch below.

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