It’s been a while since I made enough progress on the steps/decks to spend a post describing it. In fairness to me, I have accomplished a lot, but things like painting and measuring and planning, don’t make for interesting stories. This week. Visible progress was made. I’ve got some pictures; I’ll share some details here and in the captions, but some of that planning and measuring needs to be explained.
Let’s start with the Trex. For every good thing about this product, there is one big drawback. It – is – expensive. That’s not a complaint, it’s worth the price, and our local lumber yard cuts a nice deal compared to the big-box stores, but the price makes measuring critical. For a project like this, where there are a lot of short surfaces, it’s important to determine how many pieces can be cut from the same board, and how long that board should be. I won’t go into the math. I’ll just say that the best mix for this project is an equal number of 12′(3.6m) and 16′(4.8m) boards.
The project consists of six elements. A large three level set of deck platforms to serve as stairs from the porch into the back yard. A shorter but trapezoidal two-level set of stairs from the side door of the porch to the driveway. A single deck/step down from the side door of the garage. A large step/deck from the
extension of my workshop Maddie’s deck to the yard. A tiny step from the end of Maddie’s deck to the yard, and of course, Maddie’s deck.
The Editor suggested starting with the easy stuff – the single level step into the side door of the garage. That wasn’t my first choice, but it was a good one. That step and the step up to Maddie’s deck both require six boards, and since the combined length of these two steps is just under 12’, those boards can be cut from six 12’ pieces of Trex with a minimal amount of waste.
The steps sit on the ground but are anchored in place to keep them level, and from moving side-to-side. We also need to keep them from shifting when the ground freezes. The step by the side door is anchored by four pressure-treated 4x4s. The step to Maddie’s deck is anchored to the supports of her deck and with a 4×4 in each of the outside corners. Of course, they have to be level (side to side) and they slope about ¼” from back to front so water will drain off the deck surface. Once level and anchored, the structures were ready for decking.
The side step to the garage was a straight forward process. I finished that in one day, including the demolition of the old step. The step to Maddie’s deck was more complicated. One reason was that I made the step big enough to cover the concrete landing block from the old ramp. That required cutting grooves in that old hunk of concrete for the deck’s joists. The other reason was that that step required a railing. Given the wide and short nature of these steps, a traditional railing would be a difficult fit. We’re using components from firewood racks – another idea contributed by the Editor. The details are in the photos. The structure was set, leveled and anchored in one day and the deck boards and railing were installed the following day.
That meant that – for one day – Maddie’s deck was closed during construction. She wasn’t happy about that, but she seems to approve of the new step. Next up, deck boards for Maddie’s deck. Then we get started on the multi-level steps.