As you can see from the before pictures, it was a complete mess. Old. Rotten. Splintered. Chipped. Ugly.
Demo took about one day. Some of he old decking will be reclaimed for furniture, some went into the dumpster. We chose EAI (Environmental Alternatives Inc.) as our dumpster service. They will recycle everything and send us a report by volume.
But as with almost any home renovation project (especially when you’re dealing with an old house) one thing almost always turns into another. Removing the wood from the old porch exposed bare brick with almost no mortar. The “quick” deck job took a several day “tucking and pointing” detour. "Tucking and Pointing" is a method of removing broken down mortar between the existing brick. I used standard cement to fill in the gaps and shore up the wall, and then I was almost back on track.
Since I was already concentrating on the brickwork it brought up the debate as to how I'm going to treat the entire exterior of the house. Painting the exterior doesn’t appeal to me for environmental and upkeep reasons, and leaving the brick as-is doesn’t appeal to me for aesthetic reasons. I'm always thinking about other alternatives and the idea I came up with was to use a product from a company called Limeworks.us in Pennsylvania called St. Astier Natural Hydraulic Lime. Hydraulic lime is a good alternative to regular cement because it’s made from all natural lime with no chemical additives. It also adds a warmth and charm that you just can't get with regular cement. I wanted to try the product on a smaller scale first, so I used it as a finish for the columns on the deck. This added a nice color to the brick and filled any remaining gaps in the mortar in an eco-friendly way. Eventually, the entire front of the house will be treated this way.
But back to the actual deck. I chose a southern yellow pine sourced from Nature Neutral, a small company based in Charlottesville ,Virginia. The light tone of the SYP appealed to me and it gives the exterior of the house a much-needed boost. After sketching out several possible designs I chose one that would give the deck a definite custom look, but not stand out too much from the surrounding neighborhood.
I'm thinking of building planters on top of the columns so we have a place to house a small herb garden, but, for now, I'm going to sit back with my family and enjoy the new deck in time for the warm weather.