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7 Steps-New Redwood Deck Design

Friday, October 16, 2015

Where to begin?

When your deck is over twenty-five years old, it has problems.  Like pulling away from the house.  Like rotting boards with gaping holes.  Like substructures tilting.  Like U G L Y!

However, one of the most important issues could be a design that has many levels that creates a significant problem for aging legs.

So, what do you do to upgrade your old, tired deck?  You completely remove the old deck, and replace it with a new redwood deck that has an improved design.  This is how the new east deck looks this sunny October morning.  I love it!

The new deck includes many upgrades and design changes from the old deck. 

1. Upgraded support system

To securely attach the deck to the house, a new ledger board was added to the house.  There had been a ledger board, but it was old and needed replacing. The deck dropped about 2" away from the house last spring during the heavy rains.  (Technical deck builder term... ledger board, new to my vocabulary.)  A new pressure-treated pine substructure insures long-lasting support.  Beautiful redwood decking fits right in with the woods around the house. 

2. Raised level of the deck

The new deck is at the same level as the French doors' threshold so that a wheelchair can easily roll out of the house onto the deck. There is still a slope away from the door for water to drain away.  The deck also has a slope of 1/8" per foot away from the house.  

3. Added safety railing

For decks more than 30" off the ground, a railing with no more than 4" openings is required. The old deck did not have a railing which was a constant concern.  Raising the deck level higher caused even greater concern for safety. However, no railing meant the views were clear, all the way to the ground when you fell off.  Fortunately, no one has ever fallen off. 

4. Installed utility wire panels 

A dilemma... safety railing with open views.  Here is a solution!  Welded galvanized utility wire panels (4" openings) fade away from sight and allow the view to shine through.  Remember those railings at the Whisper Mountain house? Another bonus is the wire panels cost less than traditional redwood spindles. 

The view of the greenhouse and garden shed from the living room French doors is not blocked by the wire panel railings. 

In Texas, the local Tractor Supply store keeps in stock all the things needed for farming, for ranching, and for raising animals for the annual stock show.  You may not have visited your local Tractor Supply because you do not farm, ranch, or show stock, but you should check out the sturdy supplies that can used around the house for other reasons. 

5. Applied water seal 

To help keep the deck beautiful, Thompson's clear water seal was applied.  Periodically another coat will need to be applied to protect the deck. 

6. Added solar lights

Copper solar lights designed to cap 4" square posts are the perfect color for the redwood.  Perhaps they will age to a faded green patina.   You can dream, can't you?

Talk about easy to install.  They just popped right onto the post and are secured by two small screws that were included. These came from Home Depot and can be used so many places.  What about on posts along a walk way, or at the end of the driveway, or in the garden?  

The solar collector needs about 6-8 hours of sun to recharge its battery, and the deck may be too shaded for the lights to work well.  There may be only a soft glow at night which still will add a coziness to the setting. 

The little copper tops are beautiful and will protect the posts whether or not they shed much light. 

7. Relaid the existing walkway

Rather, re-laying the existing walkway.  A work in progress, the paver walkway has to be raised also. Having the walkway and the deck come together without a level change allows easy maneuvering for a wagon, garden cart, or hand dolly.  Moving plants from the greenhouse to the deck will be a breeze. (Is that a new ant bed being built in your sand?  Where is the spray?)


When you have a part-time handyman and you do the contracting work yourself, projects can seem to take forever.  You need a 2x8 redwood board as the final board on the deck edge, but only have 2x6 redwood boards.  There is only one supplier of redwood decking in your area.  You call the lumber yard that is an hour away in Dallas, and they only have 2x8 redwood boards that are 16 feet long.  Plus, they close in an hour, and it is rush-hour traffic time for Dallas commuters. A 16-foot board will not fit into your car.  Then you remember you have hauled 8-foot boards before.  Call the lumber yard back.  Yes, they will cut the 16-foot boards into 8-foot lengths, at no extra charge, but it is Friday, less than an hour until store closing. The lumber yard is only open Monday through Friday.  No boards for the handyman to use this weekend to finish the deck border. 

Yes, a work in progress.  There are decks on three sides of the house, and you need to replace all three.  One down.  Two to go.  

The new south deck will be raised about 24" to be at the same level as the new east deck.  There are no promises for when you will see photos of the new south deck.  Who knows how many times you will need to go to Dallas to get more boards? In your car, during rush hour. 

No compensation from any source.  All the information is provided for readers who want to know details. 

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