DIY Deck Enhancement

Many of you remember my post on redoing our deck last summer.  It was in pretty bad shape and needed some TLC.  If you don’t remember, you can read about it here.  We are still enjoying!  Since we moved in, however, my husband wanted to expand our “lower deck” into a much larger deck.  It was originally built by the the previous owners to enjoy their hot tub.  At least that’s what our neighbors told us.  😉  It wasn’t large enough for much else, so we really just had our grill and a small table on it.

Over Memorial Day weekend, Neil headed out for a long planned “guys weekend” with his high school buddies to Pittsburgh.  The got to see a baseball game and have some fun.  The girls and I were just going to hang out…or so we thought.  We got up and moving and I went outside and decided that that was the weekend I was going to expand it.  He’d wanted it done and I agreed that we needed more space out there.  It was the perfect long weekend to jump into a project like that.

Here’s what you need to complete a DIY project like this:

  • Crow bar
  • Hammer (I wish I would’ve had a sledge hammer, but I don’t think I am strong enough for it to be effective in this situation)
  • Measuring tape
  • Post hole digger
  • Level
  • Drill
  • Screws (I had 2 in and 3 in both for different purposes)
  • Circular saw (not absolutely necessary as you CAN use the reciprocal saw for all cuts, but I was more comfortable with the circular)
  • Reciprocal saw
  • Elbow grease
  • Patience (a must)
  • A good friend (not necessary, but strongly recommend)
  • Helpful children (if they aren’t, you can just give them away) 😉


Day 1 – Demo Day

The girls devoured breakfast and went outside to play.  I grabbed my hammer, a crow bar, and my drill.  Friday was demo day.  I have to say, demo day in 90 degree weather is not a grand as Chip Gaines makes it look on Fixer Upper.  It was hot, humid, and my patience with stripped and rusted nails thinned by the hour.  On a side note, if you’re looking to burn some calories without “working out”, pulling up old deck boards will do it.  I demoed through 3 pop up storms and finally gave it up when it didn’t stop raining around 6:30.  Demo day was hard.  This was the only picture I got that day.


Day 2 – Posts and framing; laying deck boards

Saturday morning the girls and I jumped in the van and headed down to Barnes Lumber with some measurements (sort of) and the idea.  How it usually works is, I bring the idea and they tell me the best way to complete it.  It’s really the prefect fit between a girl and a lumber yard or as my girls call it, “the paint store”.

Our buddy Jeff, took one look at this drawing and knew exactly what to send our way.  We headed home to play for a little while until the lumber was delivered.

I went ahead and grabbed the post hole digger that Neil so responsibly registered for when we got married.  I’d never used it and was quite happy with its performance.  I knew how long we wanted to deck to be and it just so happened that the deck boards were that exact length.  I used that to my advantage and got to digging.  With post hole numero uno dug, I got the post set with some Quikrete.  This stuff is super easy to use.

Make sure that you have a level to keep your post straight and even on all sides.  You don’t want it twisted when you have to go to attaching the 2×4 for the framing.  If you don’t have a level, here’s a great tip, your iPhone has one on it!  Who knew?!  I wish I would’ve gotten more pictures of every single step, but since I was by myself, I think I’d still be working on it if I took the time to do that! 🙂

Next, measure out the rest of the area where we wanted to expand.  The space was large enough that four posts we needed.  So I got to digging.

Add Quikrete to the hole and let the post sit for the time instructed on the bag to settle in place.  This gave me some time to put Mara down for a nap and jump in the pool to cool off.

After two days of playing with only each other, the two older girls asked if they could each have a friend over.  It worked out perfectly and much to my surprise, my dear friend Tiffany came over to drop her girls off and offered to stay and help.  I told her she didn’t have to, but I was at the point in framing and setting joists that I really needed another set of hands (and muscles) that were not 7 or 5 years old.  🙂  She didn’t get to stay as long as she wanted, but we definitely had fun while working.

By that afternoon, I had fastened all the joists as well.  My kids were scaring me to death so as soon as I was able, I started attaching deck board to the area off the screened in porch and from the upper deck area.  I just knew that someone was going to forget and go falling down into the muddy pit of the old framework.

Miss Mara decided that she would be my little helper and followed me up and down the deck with screws and “He momma.  He a go.”  Mara scarfed a popsicle on her break.

Saturday night I worked until about 10:00.  It was a long day and late night, but so worth the effort.

Day 3 – Finishing laying deck boards

After church Sunday morning, we ate lunch and got started again!  No rest on a project like this!  I was able to finish everything but a couple of deck boards as I was short.  Neil arrived home and was super surprised by it.  He helped me move the patio table and chairs down and the grill back up.  We still have a table that we’re not quite sure where it needs to go, but hey, we have the room for it now!

Have you DIYd a deck before?  Share your project with me!  Make your back yard great again.

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