Urban farming has its own set of issues, and a big one is space. Town lots are not big to start with, and many “improvements” eat up more space.
One of the biggest issues that faced us with our land was the deck out back. At 30 by 30 feet, not counting the wrap around stairs, on all 4 sides, this deck was wasteful. And frankly, was rotting and dangerous to use.The original decking was put on much too close, and painted poorly. It trapped water and debris.
This past year we were going to demolish the entire deck, but after removing the first half (farthest from the house), we realized the half near the house had solid bones, and we’d redeck that section. In the photo, the grill sits on a tiny piece of old deck. This let us rebuild the deck without having to haul it off.
We farmed all summer in the half we had demolished, but the second half sat for many months, with much of the decking missing. Summer is too busy to get it done, but also, frankly, just too hot to work in the sun. Once fall showed up, we set out to get it done. Kirk ordered the new cedar wood, and we set out to clean, tighten up and fix any problem areas on the frame. We finished with a much better built deck due to it all.
The house originally had concrete steps, much of it being under the deck, broken up.
The black and yellow board bender by Stanley is a must have tool. It gave me the strength to persuade boards to move into place, and get curved boards to straighten. Without it, the deck would have been nowhere as straight.
Another tool that was invaluable was a set of Jig-A-Deck screw/spacer templates. To put how effective these are, you cannot tell a difference between sections that I installed and Kirk did. The is the same gap between every board. All the screw line up across. It cuts your time, and more so, knowing your gap helps you comply a board into place with the board bender. For screws we used GRK R4 screws in 2½ and 3 1/8 lengths. These screws do pre-drilling, saving more time. They also sink below the board, leaving the deck ready to walk on.
We started closest to the house and worked till we covered the first 1/3 or so of the deck, going across. Once we had that done, we carefully moved the grill to this area. I won’t lie, it’s not easy work, and is tedious at best. I found for me sitting and scooting back and forth worked best. My knees hated kneeling and bending over, no thanks. For the wood we used 10 and 16 foot sections, and laid it similar to how one does hardwood flooring, for a lovely pattern.
As the work progressed, and I took over the decking, Kirk took over doing the one step of stairs we kept. He had an idea, inspired by the staircase we had done in our previous house. A great way to use up all the extra pieces of wood.
Going into place.
Nearly done, we only had a few more pieces of the tread to cut.
Sealing the wood before the fall storms started. We trimmed the ends, and sanded it down beforehand. We plan on adding the railings in coming weeks. It might be past the time of year to enjoy the deck, but come spring it will be great. Big enough for a grill, a table and chairs – but letting us reclaim a lot more land to farm. But best of all, I know the deck is safe to walk on finally!
I won’t say it was easy work, but it was satisfying. I learned new skills, and it felt positive knowing we did it ourselves. Hopefully it will be a long time till I have to redo a deck though. Now, with it mostly done, I am getting the other projects I need to finish. Saving them for when it is sunny out, but where it isn’t blazing hot.