Captain Sparkles and Lieutenant Trippy (Deck Build | Part Five)

Those are the names that Mike and I came up with for each other while we were working on the deck framing.  Captain Sparkles for Mike since he was getting all sweaty and bossy, and Lieutenant Trippy for me, because I refused to get my tennis shoes out and wore flip flops, (not recommended) and tripped on every little mound of dirt, and sometimes nothing at all.

Don't mind us, it was in the high 90's and the sun was making us loopy.

In our last deck post, we finished all the beams and the framing on the top level to get to this:

Well, after some late night framing, Mike, (with a very little bit of my help), was able to frame out the bottom level.  Since Mike doesn't get the whole "Wait until Mallory has time to take a picture for the blog before moving on to the next step" idea, I came home from work to the decking already started and didn't get a picture until the entire top level was already done.  So, here's the the top level decking looking to the left, then the right.

For those wondering why we chose the more-difficult-than-straight diagonal decking approach, the truth is because the two levels have opposing beam set-up.  Meaning, if we chose to go with a simple straight decking, the top level would have them going one way, while the lower level had them at a 90 degree.  Okay, okay, I know you're all waiting for me to whip out my mad Paint skills and give you a diagram, and I wouldn't want to disappoint, so here's a diagram of how the straight decking would have looked:

We didn't really want the two levels to run in different directions, because we didn't want them to feel separate and wanted them to flow into one another, so we chose diagonal.  It also makes it just a tad more fancy looking.  Just don't let Mike hear me call our deck fancy, he'd prefer awesomly manly or something equally less girly.

Anyhoo, with the top level under his belt, Mike didn't waste any time starting on the lower level:

It was about at this point that Mike felt like something was off, so he went to Google to confirm his suspicions.  You see, from Mike's experience with decking, he was always told to add a 1/8" gap between each board.  This is accomplished by placing a nail between each board to give it the desired spacing.  This is done so that the wood has room to expand without warping the decking.  I'm not sure what made Mike stop and think about it, but, when does wood expand?  When it's hot and wet.  Like the 90 degree heat and the rainy weather we've had lately.  Which means that the wood is pretty much at it's largest right now.  Not to mention the fact that the wood is treated and full of chemicals.  That means that as the deck ages, the wood will actually dry out and shrink, causing the what began as 1/8" gap to become even bigger.  Like, small children will fall through and be lost forever, big.  Okay not that big, but big enough to not look nice and for small things to fall through.

That's when he realized he had to shift all the decking he had already put down to eliminate all of the gaps.  The small bit that he did on the bottom level wasn't that bad since it wasn't cut to size and could easily be unscrewed, shifted, then screwed back in.  But, the top level was already cut to size and there were even spots that were custom cut to fit things like the door trim and the posts.  It was almost as time consuming as it was to originally but it down.  But, in the end, all the decking was put down, without the gap, and turned out amazing:

And, for those wondering how big the deck actually is, let me put it into perspective: it has the same footprint as our house.  That's right folks, about 530 square feet of deck!  Needless to say, we won't have to worry about not having room for everyone when we have a summer party!

After cutting the boards along the edges, the next step is just that, the steps.  Then, we'll finally have a somewhat functional back door that we can use to get to the garage again! 

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