Deck Demolition: Part 3

With demolition parts one and two complete, along with the subsequent reassembly (one and two), the focus is fully on the stairs to the hot tub pad and the decking around it. Any hope that just perhaps this section of decking was done correctly was quickly lost. It was quickly evident that if this deck had been built in a more humid environment, it would have rotted away a dozen years ago. Even with the low humidity in Colorado, rotten spots were still found. Three cheers to the dry Colorado air. Enjoy the gallery of face palming construction decisions by a previous owner.

Critical Tools: Circular saw, pry bar, hammer, drill, pliers, knee pads, Sawzall, end of day margaritas.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Tip(s): Don’t use scrap wood to build a deck. Even if the scraps are a ‘good deal’.

The spacing between decking boards allows water to drain and air to circulate. Without the air circulation, the chances for rot are greatly increased.

Choose two of the three – good, fast, or cheap. Previous owners chose fast and cheap. Don’t be like the previous owners.

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Deck Demolition: Part 2

With Part 1 of the deck demolition and rebuild complete, we get to see what structural disasters are hidden in part 2. How can we be so confident that this portion of the deck is not structurally sound? The most visible symptoms is the drooping corner and the improperly cantilevered boards.

Once the decking came off, the situation was worse than originally thought. Check out the gallery below for great pictures of rotted boards and improperly done construction. This deck was permitted and it is hard to believe it passed inspection, a score and four years ago. It is amazing the deck didn’t collapse long ago. Time to do things right and repair this shoddy work.

Demolition went quickly using technique 3 described in the first demolition post. Tips described in the previous post also apply here.

Critical Tools: Circular saw, pry bar, hammer, drill, pliers, knee pads, Sawzall, end of day margaritas.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Tip(s): Don’t step on boards that have been cut with the circular saw. This will result in a painful trip through the deck.

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Deck: Demolition Part 1

Deck boards – some were replaced by the previous owner, entire deck desperately needs repainting.

With summer in full swing and the inside projects complete, it is time to tackle the deck! What is wrong with the deck one may ask? Best guess it is close to 25 years old. It desperately needs to be repainted, boards need to be replaced, and our home inspector cautioned us against standing too close to the edge in one portion (structure is unsound). Throw in the horizontal railings that a young boy can easily climb, combined with a 15 foot drop, the safety issue is even greater. With that in mind, time to replace the deck and railing!

Horizontal railings perfect for Adventure Alex to climb. Top rail broke while we leaned on it.

In general, the framing is in good condition and does not need replacement. The structurally unsound portion will be repaired to code and common sense. The decking will be replaced with Trex Enhance, color clamshell (grey). Grey was selected because there is so many brown tones with the log cabin, we didn’t want to look like we failed at matching. So we decide to do a cooler grey to help balance all that warm wood. Decking materials, including RainEscape for front deck, were purchased from Deck Superstore in Commerce City, CO (go check out their decking test area) and all lumber for framing repairs was purchased from Home Depot.

So, demolition, easy enough, right? Well, in this case some care had to be taken in removing the decking to avoid damage to the framing. We wanted to reuse as much as the framing as possible. So how was the decking removed?

Technique 1: Unscrew boards and pull them up.

Problems: Screw heads were filled with paint. Screws were stripped and could not be backed out. Screws were brittle and broke off. Boards had to be pried out with a crowbar and screws had to be broken off. A generous estimate was 10 feet of decking was removed in 4 hours.

Technique 2: Use a reciprocating saw with metal blade to cut screws (run between decking and joist.

Problems: Screws were far tougher than regular nails. Significant effort was required to cut through a few screws. This was draining on the saw batteries (multiple recharges would have been required throughout the day), saw blades, and Dave’s reserve of curse words.

Technique 3: Use a circular saw to cut decking boards between the joists from above. Knock board out, shearing the screw.

Problems: With the exception of copious amounts of saw dust generated and some wear and tear on the knees (if knee pads are owned, employ them here!) this technique was the winner! Very few screws that had to be broken off. 45 feet of decking was removed in 4 hours. A four-fold increase in productivity!

Preparation: Relocate planter, block off construction area (from the wanderings of dogs and child)

Critical Tools: Circular saw, pry bar, hammer, drill, pliers, knee pads, Sawzall

Skill Level: Intermediate

Tip(s): Have a bucket to throw screws in

Don’t use your tools of destruction recklessly. Recover and reuse what you can.

Clean up area every day, with a sharp eye on the look out for screws/nails in the driveway.

Check the joists carefully. An initial glance and the discoloration might be indicative of rot. In this case, it is where stain/paint dripped between deck boards.

Annoyed? Have a beer. Really annoyed? Go for the margarita.

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Master Bedroom: Closet Expansion

It is another demo and rebuild post! There seems to be a lot of demo and rebuilding posts (laundry room, master bath), but no posts showing the finished product. That would be a correct assessment. The answer is simple; because no room is completely done yet. The laundry room and master bath have been pushed to a point of functionality, but we still have a FinishingList. Why not finishing the finishing details? Well, we have a move in date in approximately 3 weeks. We want to get the really messy stuff done when we aren’t living there full time. The fine points can be done after we move in, if necessary.

That being said, what is being torn apart this time? The master bedroom closet and a coat closet on the other side of the wall (weirdest location, no where near a door that could be considered a main entrance of the house). The door to the coat closet will be walled in and the wall between the closets will be taken down. The opening of the closet in the master bedroom will be expanded. What can go wrong? Fun surprises like plumbing or vent pipes in the wall to be torn down. We can only wait and see.

No big surprises! A run of coaxial cable and nothing that would otherwise derail this project was found. Dave proceeded to close up the one opening and proceed with his favorite remodeling task – drywall work. Too bad Alex didn’t get to enjoy the giant running loop created by the removal of the wall.

So the question is, what are we going to do with the unpainted space? Built in cabinets. That is for another post though.

Preparation: Remove trim

Critical Tools: Sawzall, hammer, pry bar, beer

Skill Level: Medium – to reduce drywall repairs to the closet opening, you have to be careful with what you take down.

Tip(s): Measure carefully and be judicious in what you take down. If too much is taken down, more work will be created when you have to put it all back up.

Living in a drywall work environment is unpleasant. Sand when the least amount of people are around.

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Master Bath: Demolition

With the major work in the laundry room completed and those nagging fine details left, we have begun to focus our efforts on the master bath. So what are we doing to this move in ready bathroom? New flooring, paint, single vanity is being replaced with a double. This means the existing linen closet is going to be replaced with a smaller one. Smart moves for a house that is already short on storage. We hope to recoup some of our lost linen closet storage space with some overhead cubbies.

What the master bath looked like before we decided to overhaul it.
What the master bath looked like before we decided to overhaul it.

First step of the process – demolition! First sub-step of demolition – remove the toilet and vanity. The vanity was not installed correctly, so removing it was a simple as dragging it out of the bathroom (once the plumbing connections were disconnected). The vanity will be given a new top a re-used in the hall bath. Until that day, it shall live in the garage. Next sub-step of demolition was the removal of the shelves from the linen closet followed by the drywall. Stripping off the drywall was the moment of truth – and we were lucky. No nasty surprised like a pipe in the wall we wanted to remove. The project can proceed unhindered! The framing was removed and was in such good shape it could be reused.

The floor tiles, vinyl, but not peel and stick, were well adhered to subfloor with mastic. With the exception of a few tiles in the closet that were pulling up, the tiles were not removed. 3/8″ plywood was screwed down on top of the tile to provide a clean surface for the thin-set to adhere to. Check out our first laundry room post for flooring details.

Final part of the demo process was creating the cut-outs for the recessed medicine cabinets. Our first surprise arrived in the form of a vent pipe where the cabinet was supposed to be recessed. Since the cabinets are recess or surface mount, plans were changed and the medicine cabinets will now be mounted on the wall surface.

Preparation: Remove light fixtures, toilet, vanity

Critical Tools: Sawzall, hammer, scraper, wrenches, strong back, beer

Skill Level: Easy

Tip(s): Have more trash bags than you think you are going to need. When in doubt, buy the big box of heavy duty contractor bags. Drywall weighs a lot.

Don’t use your tools of destruction recklessly. Recover and reuse what you can.

Drain the water from the toilet. Wear rubber gloves and have an old towel that you can throw away. You need that towel to stuff in the sewer pipe (the hole in the floor).

Turn off your water valves.

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