Construction Process of Patio and Deck

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

These two AutoCad drawings show a top view of the deck and planned look of the walkway to the 'Star' Deck with its arches and columns.

Installing the Bomanite Patio. Ahal Contracting was hired to install the multi-tier concrete patio using their Bomanite process

The Bomanite process imprints the surface with natural stone relief creating a rather convicing look of natural stone

Construction of Hexagon Deck next to house. The Hexagon sits 4 steps down from the house on its own level and is about 18 feet from point to point creating an area large enough for a table with chairs and plenty of room to walk around them.

The steps were added to the Hexagon deck. An extra step was added to decrease the step height to 7.5 inches from 8.25 inches.

The 'Star' deck was framed. This deck sits out over the hillside. The far edge is roughly 11 feet above the hill. The hill drops another 20 feet or more before reaching the creek. The second view is from the walking trail that is 25 feet below the deck surface.

Two other views showing both the 'Hexagon' and 'Star' decks. Construction will now begin on the deck level against the house and then on to the walkway out to the 'Star' deck.

The 'Upper' deck connects to the house and leads down 4 steps to the 'Hexagon' deck. The 'Catwalk' will connect this deck to the 'Star' deck. Decking will proceed on the 'Upper' deck prior to construction of the 'Catwalk'.

The decking material is a wood-plastic composite material called Epochwood that is similar to Trex but has a color-fast finish with a textured grain pattern. The material is very workable, extremely flexible and takes screws well. The deck is fastened to the substructure with a product called DeckMaster that grips the decking from underneath creating a deck surface that is free of screw heads.

The addition of more decking along with a few posts and some railing begin to give hints of the final look. The railing material is a product call Xcel Railing. Like the decking, it is a composite material that is maitenance-free.

The railing material is an extruded composite with a vinyl clad. Unlike most vinyl railings, this railing system feels like wood with a durable high gloss finish. This railing will NOT rattle in the wind. Due to the joist positions and post locations I had to mount the posts on top of the joists using 1/4 inch aluminum plate.

Most of the decking is now in place for phase one. A few posts remain to be placed and then the railings will be added. The trees are starting to turn and nights are much shorter. At least I can now walk out of the house and onto the deck without fear of falling through.

For decking areas that left no room to fasten it from underneath, I used E-B-Tys. These plastic fasteners are made to be placed between the deck boards just like biscuits used in wood joinery. A plate joiner is used to cut the slots and a single stainless screw fastens the EBTy to the deck joinst. It's also time to get some railing up before someone (like me) falls off this thing. The eXcel railing system from Monarch is very nice and a little on the expensive side but even after a couple years of wear, the railing looks brand new after a quick hose down. My only complaint is that the hardware supplied is only for attaching the rail 90 degrees to the post. If you have a 45 degree (or in my case a lot of 60 degree angles) you're on your own.

Ok, Ok, Ok. So a little time has gone by since my last update. What's a couple years between friends?   ;) This fall I'm back on the deck. The remaining materials have been purchased and I hope to make a significant dent before the snow flies. My goal is to finish up the planters and unfinished pieces of the main deck attached to the house as well as the star deck leaving the arches and bridge work for next spring. I can't say I wasn't a little concerned that I may have problems getting the remaining materials. These composite materials are constantly being upgraded and manufactures come and go. Luckily, with only a few 4 hour round trips to locate them, I had all I needed. Here you see the final look of the planters and steps. I still need to plug the screw holes, but otherwise it is finished. This made a noticable improvement in the looks of the deck. My wife actually said "it looked like you actually had things planned out after all." Whatever that means.   >:\

With the decking in place, the 'Star' deck is well on its way. Remember when I said I was concerned if I could still get the materials. Well things weren't perfect. The manufacturer of the railing had changed and the post design changed as well. The new post design is just a rigid sleeve that is meant to slide over a 4x4 post. This required a change in my mounting method. I welded up new brackets for the 4x4s and used 6" lag bolts to fasten them to the deck. They should be plenty stout. The white material that I'm using to cover the rim joists is a cellular PVC material that cleans up nicely and works like pine wood. The manufacturer is Azek. I bought 4'x10' sheets of 3/8" and I like the stuff so much I plan to use it for most of the archways. No paint and it glues like normal PVC.