Building a Deck

So back over the summer between my junior and senior years of college, I spent my time at home. I didn’t really have much to do, but over the years I had developed the desire to do construction work around my house. It probably goes back to building with LEGO’s, but I’ve found I really do enjoy the physical labor of building stuff (especially this deck). Anyway Mother’s day had come up and I was broke, but I still wanted to get something for my always wonderful Mom. She had mentioned that something she really, really wanted was an outdoor kitchen. She hated having to use the oven during the summer as it heated up the house in the already annoyingly hot and humid summer days in Kansas, but if she could instead cook things outside, everything would be solved. With that in mind, we went outside and began planning how we would go about setting this whole thing up. We planned on buying an oven we could set into a counter, as well as including a sink where she could wash her hands after working in her garden, clean off food/utensils before cooking, or even wash our dog, Trundle. After planning it out, it was time to start building.

The first step involved setting the supports for the counter. This involved using a post hole digger, a device used to (unsurprisingly) dig hole in the ground for posts. If you’ve never seen one of these before, it’s sort of like a pair of scissors except the blades of the scissors are instead shovels. And it’s way bigger than a pair of scissors. After digging four holes for support (about 18-24 inches deep), the posts are slipped into the the holes and cemented into the ground. Make sure they’re level beforehand because you’re never going to be able move them again, short of digging out the entire post (which is hell). After that, it was simply a matter of deciding the height we wanted to place the sink and oven at manageable heights, and we attached a few 2×4 boards around the sides. The next step was adding in braces across the length of the counter, where we would be able to successfully support the counter top. We sawed off the extra post length to give us an open, flat surface on which we could place 2×4’s. After screwing those in, we had to simply cut out a hole for the sink. The rest of the counter was covered in tiles, a nice surface that is easy to clean and looks pretty good to boot. With that the outdoor kitchen was more of less complete, until we started thinking about a deck.

See, the counter looked great and was going to be super useful. However, we couldn’t help but imagine adding in a deck where we could put tables and chairs, add a grill and have the entire deck surrounded by the garden and cottonwoods. The image was so nice we began planning out how we would achieve the design and after a little thought, sat down and ordered 72, 8 foot 2×6 boards from Home Depot. We brought them home then set to again placing the post around the base. The deck would be built coming directly off the porch that surrounds the house, while also providing easy access to the counter. The posts were easy enough, again, and everything was cemented into the ground. We then began setting up the outer siding for each area of the deck (basically 4, 8 foot by 8 foot grid slots, arranged in a 2×2 pattern). Braces were added and the boards were placed across the upper half of the grid, in a staggered pattern. After finishing the upper half off, we decided to add in 2 more levels, making it easier to step down from the top half to one lower level, to the bottom level that connected to the outdoor kitchen. Once we had those two levels finished off, we got to add all of the awesome stuff to the deck.

We had a few ideas to make it better, but we settled on leaving a picnic table in one slot of the grid, a wicker furniture set on another (the set includes a love seat, two chairs and a table), and a grill and the counter (including the oven and sink) in the last. The fourth slot was left open for any random use with which we could imagine. This was probably one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever built and, when I get to look at it, I feel extremely proud of the work I did. It’s set perfectly as an extension off the house, with two enormous cottonwood trees towering over either side and providing plenty of shade. I can step right off the deck and directly into the garden surrounding the deck, and the entire area is surrounded by beautiful bushes on either side. I guess I’m just really happy I was able to create such an awesome project, and I like being able to show off the work I did (because I don’t think most people have ever done anything quite like this).

Feel free to browse through the images of my deck and see how cool it looks. Let me know what you think through email or by leaving a comment, if you feel so inclined. Thanks for looking at my creation.