I will be blogging the updates on my deck this week, but since I spent about 50 hours over the last 4 days working on it, there’s a lot of updates. Therefore I thought I would do a quick update to record the key lessons I have learned in the last couple of days that would have made things a lot easier, or that did make things easier.
Lesson #1 – Use a string line
I didn’t really think of this at the time, and I made sure everything was perfectly level, however, I forgot that the front of the deck would need to be straight. I mean, it looked straight, but when it came to putting the boards on, not so much.
A string line is a great way to make sure that everything lines up. In fact, if I was to do it again, I would be a lot more particular with concreting in the stirrups and bracing them to ensure that they were perfectly level horizontally and vertically, but also in line with each other. That would have saved a lot of grief.
Lesson #2 – You can fix it
Even when you do everything perfect, there will always be something that doesn’t quite work out right. However, instead of hoping for the best and just soldiering on, it’s best to take the time to fix it.
I thought that the supports would be strong enough with the gap they had. They may be, but to make sure, I put in some extra support posts just in case. Turns out that the deck is so much more solid for it, and if I hadn’t have spend half a day messing around with them, the deck may not be as solid.
Lesson #3 – Overkill is good
There are times when you can take small short cuts because is going to be hidden when the job is finished. There are times when it will probably do, but the best rule of thumb is over kill.
I wish I had been a lot more gungho in the beginning and just put a lot more posts in. There would have been more support, I wouldn’t have had to go back and put some extra ones in later, and where I thought there would have been enough, it wouldn’t have hurt to go for the overkill.
Lesson #4 – Don’t have a deadline
Setting a deadline or working towards one is great, but it can lead to shortcuts that will make things more difficult in the end. It also puts a lot of pressure on you to kill yourself trying to finish things.
Set a tentative deadline and work towards it as much as you can, but be aware that things happen (eg rain) that will slow things down. It’s better to have a quality finished product that will be ready once it’s done than having something delivered on time that is sub-par.
Lesson #5 – “Ekodeck” is awesome
The product I have used for the decking boards is called Ekodeck( http://www.ekodeck.com.au/ ). It’s pretty much made from plantation bamboo and recycled bottles. Sounds weird, I know, but it’s awesome.
It is a little heavier than wood, and a lot more flexible (which can be good for working with, not so great for carrying). It looks like wood, but doesn’t have much of a grain – however, nor does it have imperfections like knot holes. You work with it just like wood (screw, drill, cut, etc) with one massive difference – no sawdust! Yes there are shavings, but they’re pretty soft and don’t tend to clog things up. The material itself is very easy to shape (chisel, sand, cut, etc) and is really solid.
I’m yet to find out first hand how it weathers, but it didn’t need to be oiled, treated or anything like that. You just screw it down and it’s ready. And it looks awesome!!
Anyway… more updates through the week with lots and lots of progress. In fact, the end is in sight! 🙂