One of the reasons Tom and I took the summer off was so we would have time for fixing and improving the house. If we volunteer in the winter and the summer, we are gone for eight months. I told Tom to think of our house as a mission project this year. We would spend the summer and fall doing some projects for improvement.
While I was volunteering at Vacation Bible School, Tom was fixing and improving our back deck. We have a wonderful, two-level deck in the back, but it had a few problems. The back rail was leaning and the only thing holding it up was the tree next to it. The steps were also very steep, which made it difficult to get up and down.
Tom started his fixing and improving project by taking off the old railing. He took it off in two pieces. The pieces were too big and heavy for me to move with him, so my brother, Steve, helped Tom move them into the yard. Once the railing was off, Tom could look at the support beams and joists. A couple of them were rotten, so he removed the decking boards and cut out the rotten parts. Then he replaced them. He replaced the entire side beam and a section of another beam. Then he put the decking boards back on.
The next project was putting two steps where the level of the deck changes. There had been one tall step before, and Tom added a second step so the height is more reasonable. Then he tackled the steps going from the deck to the yard. Each of those steps had a rise of close to 12″. The standard for decks stairs is 7.75″ and OSHA standards say a maximum stair rise is 9.5″. Instead of taking out the current stairs, Tom built them up and added one step at the bottom so each rise is about 7″. This makes them much easier to get up and down. Tom was able to reuse a lot of the wood from the railing, which helped keep the cost down.
Tom did almost all this work by himself. I offered to help him, but he was thinking about it as he went, so he enjoyed the time to work it out by himself. We decided to leave the rail off the back of the porch. There isn’t that much clearance between the landscaped bed and the deck and a rail isn’t necessary. With the tree and barberry bushes in that bed, I don’t think people are going to step off it. Also, my porch swing hangs along that side of the deck.
The deck looks much better after Tom’s fixing and improving. Tom still has a few decking boards to replace, but that is easy compared to the structural fixes. Once the treated lumber dries out we will power wash the deck and then I will apply a new coat of paint. The deck is in pretty good shape considering that it is 40 years old and, once I paint it, it will look as good as new.
It is a joy to have time to work on the house and do it at our leisure. There is always something to do when you own a home.