After all of Dave’s hard work, the blog seemed like a good place for his reflections as well as some answers to questions asked during the process (by ourselves or others). It always a good thing to publish a long forgotten draft.
Q: How critical is that first row?
A: Extremely. Any mistake will be magnified in every following row. It will look terrible and there is the strong likelihood of having to rip a board (uneven and unsightly) or redo all the work. Or, ignore and let the next sap of a homeowner deal with it. Take the time, do it right the first time, starting at the first row.
Q: How did we ensure that all rows following the critical first row were done correctly? How did we keep the boards straight?
A: This is a benefit of manufactured decking. It is uniform coming from the factory. There was some slightly bowing due to transport and storage (the stuff is surprisingly flexible), but using clamps during the process solved that issue.
For where wood was used (such as the framing), Dave took the time to hand select the pieces, eliminating anything that looked like snow skis (badly bowed).
Q: There is rot and structural deficiencies detailed in many photos. Wasn’t this caught on home inspection?
A: Some of it was. Our inspector found the issues with the stair joists and the cantilever. Unfortunately some of the issues were not visible until the decking was removed.
Q: What was holding parts of that deck together?
A: Nails. Luck. Carpenter ants holding hands and singing kumbaya.