Okay, last we saw the deck was shaping up nicely with most of the top boards on and a couple of boards down for the facia side of the deck. The final part was to take the boards all the way to the ground and to finish the wall behind the deck to frame up the backyard.
Firstly, we had to put on the boards beneath the lights and that was pretty straight forward. We did that on both front facings. Then the real problem came with going to the ground.
I wanted to have a pretty solid looking front face, but also wanted to keep a small gap between the bottom of the board and the ground so that a) air is let in for ventilation and b) if there is an water run off, it flows into the drain. However, the ground isn’t even and the top of the deck is level, so this means cutting a board length ways that will fit.
The funny this was trying to work out how to cut it. As you’ll see a bit further down, it’s fairly easy in that you measure the gap and then mark it on the board. The problem was the tool to cut it with.
We decided on the jig saw since it was the easiest to control, but after snapping the blade we decided to just go with the circular saw. It made a nice long clean cut, and it turned out that any imperfections were hidden since it was so close to the ground.
Here’s the first board we did with the 20mm gap the whole way along.
Because the ground dropped off significantly, we had to use two boards to slope it, so the second one needed to also be measured and cut. We measured it at the support beams since that would be where we would attach them. Then we marked out the points on the board and basically joined the dots.
In this photo below you can see how we used the circular saw to cut along the board. The pencil mark was the guide and it turned out surprisingly well. My brother in-law is pretty handy with the saw, though. Also notice that he’s wearing safety goggles… that’s even more important in home DIY because you aren’t a builder working for some big company with lots of insurance. If you take an eye out, you’re paying for it! Besides, hard to finish the deck with one eye….
Once it was cut, we then chocked it into place and attached it to the bottom of the deck. It ended up looking great. You can also see at the top of the picture that the boards running along from the left hand side of the photo don’t have anything to attach to. You can also see my brother in-law wasn’t that excited about having his photo taken.
To make sure the boards joined in the corner, we ran the boards for the right side first and then attached an off cut of timber over the boards, up under the deck vertically. We then ran the other boards from the left and attached them to the off cut. This creates a seamless join that is out of the way, tidy and still very strong.
Once the boards underneath had been finished, we decided to start on the back wall. This wasn’t too difficult as the uprights have been there from the start. The first thing I did, though was to trim back the ficus trees to make it a little easier to get around.
We continued to use the three drill style – one for drilling, one for countersinking and one for screwing. We also used the two man approach – one holding the board and passing the drills, the other using the drills. We tangled the cords a lot and swore heaps, but it got done. You can see here, the photo is taken about half way up. Also, it’s worthwhile noting the three off cuts of board that we used to space the boards we were putting up.
I wanted to have a larger gap between the boards on the wall than on the deck. This gives an impression that the wall is different to the deck and stops the whole back yard looking boxed in. I was very happy with the spacing and how it turned out.
At about this point we realised that we didn’t have enough boards and that getting new ones would be a major issue. Each board is 5.4m long and you need a special vehicle to carry them. We decided to cross that bridge when we could and just use up what we had.
It’s also important to know that the four main parts of the wall – far left, corner left, corner right and far right – happened to fit together nicely if each board was cut in half. This meant that the far right and corner left could be cut out of one board, the far left and corner right out of another.
The only problem with this logic was that the boards needed to be put in with a specific order. That order was Far right, far left, corner right, corner left. This is because the boards need to overlap to be able to put in the hidden support beam for the other boards to rest on (in the same way we did the front boards in the corner.
However, this also meant that we needed to have cut the correct boards in the first place to be able to do that and with the lack of boards, we realised we didn’t have enough. So we did what we could and then found other things to do…
The first other thing was putting the bottom board on the left hand side. It was a little easier, because the final full board was the right height at one end and that meant we only need to cut one board. We did this and it also fit in really well.
Another other thing that needed to be done concerned the massive tree on the left hand side of the deck. I wanted to keep it there as a feature and shade provider, but it also meant having to build the deck around it. The floor of the deck was fine, I just needed a bigger hole, but the wall presented some challenges.
We decided – after much deliberation of my brother in-law and I both arguing how the best way to do it was, and realising that the meant the same thing, but communicated it differently – that we would need to build a frame that would support the boards that would have to fit around the tree. The frame itself is made from the same size timbers as the rest of the deck frame and are bolted in place the same way.
I wanted to have a “window” of sorts around the tree branches to allow for branch growth and to look nice, but the trunk of the tree to look like it was almost behind the boards. I still needed to leave room for the growth of the tree as well. We built this frame to have the height that the tree would allow, but to a point where the board would cover the top support when it was up. The other thing we did there was to put upright supports so that the boards had somewhere to be attached to.
We had worked out that we had enough of the boards to put up 3 boards in place to ensure that everything fit together okay size wise, so we put those in place first. We were happy with how the frame seemed to support the back wall a lot more than without the frame.
We also put up the first 3 boards on the corner right side to ensure that we had the right lengths there as well.
Below you can see where the boards go behind. From here, once those boards are all done, we’ll put a off cut over the top of them and then attach the corner left boards to the off cut. All going well it should also have a seamless join, but there is a little less pressure since the tree in the corner hides any problems.
With all of the boards used up, we had to them call it a day and work out how to get the rest of the boards to finish off the project.
The only thing left to do, was to give the deck a safety test to see how much weight it could take and for that we enlisted the help of my niece, Scarlett, Jake’s daughter. She seemed happy with the deck, but a little dubious of having her photo taken.