Redoing Our Deck (Part 7: Final)

We did it. The re-decking project is now completed. It is not perfect, but I am satisfied with the final product. I am glad it is now done. It feels like tons of weight has lifted off my chest, literally. The project was a great learning experience for me and it has definitely boosted my confidence. As someone who loves to build virtual homes more than real homes, I came to realize that I am not as bad as I thought when I have to get my hands dirty.

Of course, I could not have done it without my wife who has more confidence in me than I do in myself. She knew I could do it and had been there with me every step of the way. She researched, made suggestions, did all the calculations, and made me redo parts that weren’t quite right. Sure, we had some tense moments, but we communicated and worked things out. I loved our collaboration. We didn’t move mountains, but we accomplished something together. I have nothing in common with Barack Obama, except that we both married up. He became the president of the United States, but I have a new deck.

I also could not have done this without the help of my mother-in-law. She took care of the kids so we can focus on this project. Although I took a week staycation, I did not get to spend much time with the kids. I felt guilty letting them spend lots of time on their digital devices. They helped out a bit in the beginning when we broke down the deck, but they rather stayed inside when the weather was getting hot. I don’t blame them. Đạo, our oldest son, helped out a bit here and there, but he also was tied up with video games. The good thing is that I still have to take another week of vacation time by the end of this month. With social distancing still in effect, I am not sure what we can do, but I am fine with just staying home, reading, blogging, and playing with the kids so my wife can focus on her work. Also thanks to my sister-in-law and her husband for lending us the tools, which saved us quite a bit of expenses.

The biggest motivation for redoing the deck ourselves was cost saving. We could not afford $15,000 to $20,000 to hire the professionals. Initially I budgeted $900 for the materials if we simply replaced old woods with new woods. Then we decided on composite materials and my wife estimated $4,000 and she was close. My rough tracking is around $3,332. You can see the break down at the end of this document.

The project took us three weeks to complete. It was not as hard as I thought. It just takes time, patience, and many trips to Lowe’s and Home Depot. If you’re thinking of redoing the deck yourself, you can do it. I am not even a good handyman and I could pull it off. For resources, I find Lowe’s video and instructions to be easy to follow. YouTube also has plenty of good instructional video.

As I was working on this project, I thought of my father-in-law. I wish he were still here with us. I would have learned so much from him. I still recall one time he asked me to help him fix a wood gate when I came over to his house. At the time my wife and I were still dating. He knew his daughter would be in trouble if she married someone who couldn’t even hit a nail’s head straight on with a hammer.

Even today I still can’t hit a nail straight on its head; therefore, I preferred screws. Even with a screw, I stripped its head at times. Thankfully I have his daughter to guide me through. I want to dedicate this project to my father-in-law. Rest in peace, dad!

Total Cost

  • $3,332

Posts

  • Materials for posts: $255
  • Seal tapes: $110
  • Wood filler $10
  • Water sealer for post: $15

Deck Boards

  • Fiberon composite decking: $1320 (including Trex’s hidden fasteners)

Railings

  • Fiberon railing system: $870 (including sleeves, base mountings, and caps)

Stair

  • Fiberon composite decking: $180
  • Wood: $70
  • Nails & brackets $60
  • Grass: $50
  • Concrete blocks: $40

Miscellaneous

  • Trim $200
  • Fairfax County Permit: $112
  • Wrecking Claw: $50
  • Triangle rule: $10
  • Drill head: $10
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