Hit the Deck

Jas’s dining room ceiling remains a work in progress. To make my latest visit worth my time, Jas also asked me to disassemble a couple of decks he salvaged from another house.

The decks had pretty simple construction, treads on top of stringers fastened with a variety of nails and screws. A drill was not sufficient to dislodge the screws – the pressure-treated lumber had strangled the threads. Jas wanted to keep the treads and repurpose them, so cutting them was not an option. I resorted to an extremely high-tech strategy known as “brute force” – whacking the stringers with a sledgehammer until they came loose.

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A deck, before destruction.

Jas suggested I cut the stringers into pieces to make the job easier, so I used a circular saw to slice one piece per tread. That way, when I hit the deck, I only had to dislodge one or two fasteners at a time. The work was physically demanding but satisfying.

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Sawcut closeup.

To catch my breath, I switched gears periodically to clean up the mess I was making. We spread tarps under the decks to catch sawdust, keeping the pressure treatment chemicals away from the soil. I used a hammer and a prybar (and sometimes the good old sledge) to remove as many screws and nails from the treads as I could reach. Finally, I stacked the treads and collected the scrap stringer pieces in a pile for disposal.

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