On Deck

The house calls for some 900 square feet of decking. Since the material arrived Friday, we’ve installed more than a third of it, including the entire grill porch and the lower level of the wraparound. Arnie joined the three regulars on site, making this installation faster and more enjoyable.

Like the vinyl siding, our decking is a maintenance-free plastic composite with the appearance of real wood. The planks are about 5 inches wide and up to 20 feet long. We connect them to the porch framing with a clever clip system that sits below the planks, making the fasteners almost invisible once the deck is complete. Each metal clip has two edges, which fit into slots that run the length of the planks, and a downward loop containing a screw hole. Once the deck is complete no screws are exposed at all: they’re all down in the clips hidden by the decking.

Arnie installs special clips to hold the last plank while Colin checks layout.

Arnie installs special clips to hold the last plank while Colin checks layout.

As we install the deck, a familiar pattern holds true: it’s a pain to get started but a breeze after that. Terry custom-cuts the first plank to squeeze in below the siding and any door openings. Because the inside edge sits atop our aluminum flashing, this first plank slants ever so slightly downward… it’s barely noticeable underfoot and it’s a boon to drainage, so no problem there. Then Colin, Arnie, and I take up positions along the length. We install a clip at every joist, put a screw through every clip, and then click in the next plank using rubber mallets. The clips are designed to leave an even spacing between planks, so it’s easy to keep them straight, but even so we frequently run an eyeball along the length for good measure.

Starting to deck the front porch. At 56 feet long, each row requires three planks end to end.

Starting to deck the front porch. At 56 feet long, each row requires three planks end to end.

Winter is coming fast, and with the low sun angle comes magnificent sunsets. Working until twilight to make the most of the short days, we get to watch nature’s light show virtually every evening.

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