I'm back. After a long trip with a lot of sitting and meeting, I can never wait to get my hands dirty again. Even waiting for Eddy to pee in the chilly air this morning - pre-coffee - I had to at least pull some weeds!
Ken did an awesome job grouting the hearth - we're always amazed how much of a difference it makes, every time. He had it done, plus he had re-sanded the brick patio joints - by the time I got home. What a dear.
So today we headed out to the ol' deck. After sleeping late, of course. The goal was to make some forward progress on the main steps - not the sweeping steps for lazy days of gardening and parting, but the business end of the deck: where we enter & leave every day, groceries, dog, and work bags in arms.
We were all prepared to cut stringers (had to go get more lumber), then I re-measured and realized we could use pre-cut, standard issue stringers if we bit the bullet and gave ourselves 4 instead of 3 stairs. It was probably a good idea to go to 4 anyways, so they wouldn't be too steep. So off the the store for pre-cut stringers. That little cheat saved us at least half a day, and some really irritating cutting.
We zipped them right on, decked & fascia-ed the steps, then put on the decking in that last area and cut it cleanly - finally. We all have been missing our footing with a jagged-toothed edge on the deck.
Of course the day had its drama - as we dug a ditch for gravel to set the stair footer on, we realized we had to pull up the old, tarred-over concrete pavers that were once a probably very nice walkway. Hea-vy. Ugh. Why do people slap sticky tar on nice old concrete? Concrete is perfectly lovely, especially with little lines of grass or moss coming up in between. Ah well, we'll re-purpose the big concrete pads somewhere. And, we found a few old buried bricks - we think there was probably a very nice old set of brick steps for the original back entry. Bummer those are gone too, but we can use the bricks to fill in a small spot in the patio-deck transition zone.
The toughest part was another cheat - even though we had mocked everything up and supposedly wouldn't end up having to have any skinny boards, by the time we got to the end, suddenly we were off. We re-checked options like adding a snow grate (waaay too expensive), adding a skinny board (won't look right), and putting diagonal boards in, but ended up making 2 slightly skinny boards with craftsman-esque cutouts. I am going to get some brass grid material to set down in them - we'll rout some rabbets - and we think they'll look pretty cool in the end. Plus, it gives us a design to repeat in the large planter that's going to eat up all our various mistakes.
Here comes Monday - we'll see what punch-list stuff we can cram in another action-packed week.