You may have noticed in the pictures of our new roof and solar install, our front porch decking and posts were looking very shoddy. As in tripping hazard shoddy. Replacing the front porch decking was the first thing on my To-Do List once the weather warmed up a bit. Our front porch is approximately 32 feet long and 6 feet deep. You read that right 32 FEET LONG! It’s a whopper. We knew we wanted to use a composite decking (Can you say maintenance free?) to replace the old, warped, cracked, curling, loose boards that were currently there. Since we live in a very dry region, the moisture is just sucked out of wood boards in no time. Add to that, these deck board had never been sealed, oiled, cleaned or maintained in any apparent way. They were in pretty sad shape.
The thing is, composite decking can be expensive – especially if you insist on a big brand name. We did our research and discovered that composite decking is all basically the same structurally – the difference is in the color, texture and thickness. We decided on ChoiceDek after comparing it side-by-side with the better known Trex brand. They looked the same, texture was comparable, ChoiceDek had the exact color I wanted, and ChoiceDek was a tad thicker than Trex. At about ½ the price of Trex, the choice was easy. Plus, Lowe’s just reduced the price of the 8foot ChoiceDek from $14.99 a board to $14.00 a board. WOOHOO!
We decided to go with screws vs. deck clips for securing the deck. These seemed the best route since the clips are plastic and just go into a board groove to hold the board down. High winds are common here and we wanted something that was secure and wouldn’t have the ability to move up and down. ChoiceDek recommended #7 stainless steel trim head screw for securing the deck. 5 pounds were almost $250! Ouch. But with these we won’t have to worry about rusted screws.
The first step in the whole process was to remove the old boards. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong! Not only had the board never been maintained, the screws that were used were NOT stainless steel. Over half of the screws we had to remove, just snapped off from being rusted rather than screw out. That left us with the laborious task if loosening each screw by hand and wrenching it out of the wood.
After lots of cursing (I’m surprised the boards just didn’t catch fire and disintegrate!) I figure out that if you lightly unscrewed the rusted screws using a halting motion with the electric drill, you could actually get a lot of the screws to come out rather than break off.
We finally got all the boards removed.
To our surprise the support beams were in pretty good shape. We had to replace two of the support boards simple because we had to destroy them to get the boards and off! We replaced the two boards and sealed all the support structure with wood preservative. I friend of mine (another BNI member), Bryan Kneeland owner of Minuteman Handyman gave me the tip of putting self adhesive window flashing along the top of each of the support boards to protect them even further. This worked like a charm and had the added benefit of adding a slight rubberized cushion under the boards. You can see the flashing in the picture below. I didn’t get a picture of just the flashing.
HINT: If you live in the Colorado Springs area and need help with any projects around the house, Bryan Kneeland with Minuteman Handyman is the guy to call! We have him scheduled for some work in the next few weeks and I’ll give you a full report once we get finished.
With the support structure ready, we started laying boards. As mentioned previously, we decided to use 8 foot board simply because they would be easier to handle and, because the deck was 32 feet long, they would make for a nice even board pattern….oh, and they were on sale. 😉 Basically, the rest is just cut, place and screw. Be sure to cut your column cladding up a bit so you can place the deck boards under them and then finish them off with trim for a seamless finish. Our columns were in pretty sad shape too. redoing those will be another post once I have them finished.
Here’s the finished product!
And after a little bit of porch styling….
We still have several things to finish up on the porch – columns, stairs and lighting, but it’s to the point we can (safely) enjoy the front porch!