Deck Repair / Rebuild

When do you know your deck is in trouble?  When your insurance agent calls you and tells you your policy will not be renewed without some “repairs.”  Clearly the decking was deteriorated, the railing beyond repair, and the supporting posts questionable.  The question remains:  Is this a “repair?”  or a “rebuild?”  Answer?  Both, actually.

The deck structure, while old, was solid, except for the joist ends that were cracked and broken.  While one lag bolt to the house structure had pulled away, the junction of deck to house was solid.  The underlying posts, while not rotten, were only attached to another piece of treated lumber underground.  (Known as a “stiff knee,” this does not conform to building code and will eventually rot allowing the entire structure to sag and eventually fail.)

The “fix” was to re-support the existing structure with concrete footings, cut six inches off the width to clean the joists up, re-deck the structure and build a new railing.  (Sounds simple, right?)

It actually is fairly straightforward; just pretty involved.  The joists were originally set to 24 inch centers, which only allows for full 2″ X 6″ size decking material.  Changing those joists to 16 inch centers allows for 5/4″ decking – a substantial cost savings but costing more labor in the tear-down phase.  The “fix” here was to add an additional 7 joists, bringing the structure to a beefy 12″ on center layout.  (It’s bomb-proof now.)  New outer plates, new, standard stair stringers, 8′ staggered joint decking (another cost versus look decision), new railings and balusters and the “same” deck is good for another 25 years or so.

A big job – in hours required as well as materials and labor.  (Total cost, materials and labor: approximately $1,700.  Actually, not a bad price for a 11 and 1/2 foot by 14 foot deck.)

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