Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Patio Progress, part 3

I'm sooooo close to being finished with the patio, but it's not quite done, so I'm not calling it yet.

I did manage to work on the patio four days this past week, and it's because of that that I'm so close to being finished.

The last picture I shared of the deck was this one:

I purchased decking on Monday so I'd have the materials ready to use when I had the time available. I also learned that I should not buy 20 pieces of 12' decking at one time. Our little 8' utility trailer didn't appreciate the weight distribution- it kept tipping backwards a bit. Good thing we have a hitch lock to make sure the hitch didn't pop off the ball.

Wednesday I laid out all the decking and started attaching it to the joists. Fairly early on I realized I was not going to have enough screws to properly attach all the boards, so I tacked them in place using as few screws as possible and had just barely enough for that. We had purchased a large container of Kreg deck screws at Lowe's awhile ago when Mr M was working on the kitchen stairs, but our local stores no longer carry them. Luckily Amazon does and two day shipping is free with Prime. 

Thursday I started on the pergola top while I waited for the Kreg screws to arrive. This was probably the most difficult part of the project to do by myself- balancing 14.5' long 2x6 boards eight feet in the air while tightening carriage bolts to keep them in place. The key? Measure and pre-drill the holes on the boards while they're at ground level. Then carefully balance the board in place and drill the first hole through the existing hole in the board and into the post. Tap the carriage bolt in place and put the nut on, and then you can do the same on the other end. I put two bolts on either end, so once one was in place on each end, I was able to go back and drill holes for the second bolts. I did this for both boards, and the hard part was done.

the left ends of the boards are resting on the crosspiece while I drilled the first holes on the right ends

Once the long boards were secured to the posts, I cut rafters from 2x4s, making them long enough to hang over the edges in the front and the back. I also cut an angle on the front edges to give it that look that is so often associated with pergolas. I ended up running out of 2x4s and wasn't able to cut the last rafter (you can see the space on the left). I also ran out of screws (different type than the Kreg screws), so I only toenailed the front edges in place.

Friday we went to Lowes and got the rest of the materials I needed and I got back to work. I cut the last rafter and finished toenailing them in on the back side. I only had time to replace the shorter 2x6 crosspiece on the left (I had tacked one in place, but the board wasn't quite long enough) before we had to get to an appointment, so I had to leave some things unfinished.

Saturday I replaced the 2x6 crosspiece on the right side (I'd used a 2x4 to keep the spacing correct) then cut diagonal braces for stability. The diagonals also helped straighten the left two posts, which for some reason were leaning backwards a bit. A ratcheting strap attached to the pergola and the frame brought it into proper alignment, and then I bolted the diagonal braces in place. I put them on the right as well, but didn't need to correct the alignment on that side.

I finished cutting and placing the decking, then went back and added all the screws I'd skipped when I was running low. That was the worst. Basically I drilled and screwed down three quarters of the decking, and there's no comfortable way of doing it, even when using the Kreg deck jig. I could barely straighten up by the time I finally finished. The last step was to trim the board ends on the left and right sides.

If you look at the picture above, there's a small piece of board attached to the front of the right corner of the deck.  I intended to put decking across the front to give it a nicer look, but I didn't have enough decking to do so on Saturday.  I also cut the board ends on the left side a little crooked, despite checking for square before I did so. Not sure how that happened, but I didn't notice it until I was taking pictures.

Next week I need to attach the decking on the front face and re-cut the board ends on the left side. Then we'll power wash the siding, doors, and decking before moving our outdoor furniture down from the deck.

The deck is cut around the propane tank and the septic tank clean out pipe, which is close to the pergola supports on the right side. I'm debating extending the pergola to the other side of the propane tank to make it look more balanced.

I read somewhere that you're supposed to let boards age a bit before staining them. I need to double check that, but even if that isn't true, I won't be staining the patio for at least a week or two. I also need to find some plants to train up the pergola supports, but it'll wait a couple weeks until I have time to figure out what will grow here with as little help as possible from me. I want something that will grow quickly and extend across the rafters for a living roof.

Despite its imperfections, I'm really happy with how the patio has turned out so far. And I'm so impressed with myself for doing it while six and a half months pregnant! {tooting my horn shamelessly}  :)

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