Today is exactly one month since I started to work on the deck. One full month.

So, I learned something surprising today….

It takes me 30 minutes to set and screw down a 16 foot piece of Trex. After work I spent 4 hours and got 8 boards set and screwed down. 8 measley boards…. Sigh…

But those 8 boards look very nice.

At that rate it is going to take me weeks to finish the Trex… Something I thought would only take a few days. I’ve got a lot of Trex to put down, about 40 more boards. Some of them are shorter, but they also need cutting, so it’s probably a wash. 40 boards is probably 20 hours. Meaning I could do it maybe over a weekend, but we have plans this weekend and next weekend, so I will be lucky to finish this deck by the end of July.

Remember when I thought it was going to be a couple of days of work?

Wow, what naivetee….

If you are interested, here is my routine for the boards…

First I lay the board up against the previous board to see if it is straight or bowed. Most are bowed. Then I check to see if it is concave or convex (all depends on your perspective I guess). If it is convex (meaning it bows out in the middle) I set it up against the other board, measure the west edge to be 1/4 inch from the edge of the dining room, then I put two 1/4″ diameter bolts on each side of the middle joist and pull the board up against the bolts. This is tricky and I usually have one or two fewer hands than I need, but somehow I manage to get it pulled together and held there. Then I drill the holes for the decking screws and then screw them in using a screwgun.

If the board is concave (meaning it bows in at the middle), then I do the reverse. I go to one end and use the bolts to space out one end, screw it down, and then go to the other end and do the same thing.

In either case I now have the natural curve of the board pulling the board in towards the previous board, meaning it is much easier to deal with spacing along the length of the board because I don’t have to use three hands to pull the boards together, the natural curve of the board does that for me. In fact a straight board is the hardest board to work with using this technique.

OK, so to screw the board into the joist I made a little plexiglass template when I started today so that I can put the screws in exactly the same place every time. I put the template over the intersection of the joist and the trex so that the holes for the screws are properly positioned, then I put the 1/4″ bolts on each side of the joist to space it properly (remember, the natural curve is pulling the board in so I usually have to use a pry bar to open up the gap enough for the bolt to slide in). Then I pick up the drill and drill the holes. Then I remove the template, move it over one joist to get ready for the next screws, and then screw the Trex and joist together. All of this is done Kneeling on a cushion my wife bought for this purpose. Then I work my way down the entire length of fifteen joists and two ends for a total of 17 times.

When I finished tonight I thought perhaps instead of two screws holding the Trex down I should have used three. I’m considering going back and adding a third screw to each joint.

I am actually afraid that I might run out of screws, which is amazing considering I super-sized the screws and bought a huge bucket that I thought I would have to leave to my kids in my will. But now it’s down to less than a third of the screws left after doing the stairs and the bracing. It’s amazing how quickly you use up nails and screws… Scary almost.

So anyway, that’s the process, and so far it’s worked pretty well. For 8 measley boards, that is…