It’s a sunny summer Saturday, and I’m sitting on my back deck enjoying the morning coolness before the day heats up.
Technically, I have only three quarters of a deck right now. It seems that after 50 years, the wooden planks have decided to disintegrate. Not totally surprising… after 50 years my body began the same process.
I’ve been trying to cajole the deck into surviving another three to four years so I wouldn’t have to address the situation (and pay for a solution) any time soon. But I noticed a couple of spots that were getting downright spongy, so I had to do something.
Not to worry. I had a plan. I grabbed a rusted can of coagulating red paint from the garage and figured I’d go out and mark the soft spots so people would know where to avoid stepping. The more I inspected the deck, the redder it got. I wondered if I was going to run out of paint before I ran out of rotted areas to mark.
Then I decided to give the deck a more definitive safety check, the pitchfork test. Very few people realize that the pitchfork is a well-tuned, precision measuring tool. And I just happened to have one in the back yard. The test involves positioning the pitchfork over a suspect crack in a deck plank and plunging the tines into the wood to see how far they sink in.
The deck failed that safety check most resoundingly, as about half the length of the tines disappeared into the board. The toughest part of the test comes with trying to pull the pitchfork back out of the board, but I managed with some effort.
Okay, so the three to four year timeline on repairs would need adjusting. Significant adjusting. I decided to rip up the worst part of the deck, inclusive of the skewered test board, and figured by the time that was accomplished, inspiration would have struck and I would have a plan for resolving this matter. Apparently I worked too efficiently; by the time I got the planks off there were still no inspirations in sight.
The planks had been attached to some humongous creosote-laden beams that looked like railroad ties on steroids. That was promising. Maybe I could just buy a few boards to replace the worst of the bunch, hide the remaining red stripes and call it good.
But then I noticed some interesting splintering on one of the beams. Time once again for the pitchfork test. Aaand…
another stupendous fail. By the time I got done establishing the extent of rot to the beam, I had pitchforked my way clear through it.
So, yeah. It’s time to regroup here and figure out Plan B. Or C or D. In the meantime, I just won’t be playing with a full deck. Not something all that uncommon for me anyway.
Oh, I almost forgot. How do I know the deck is at least 50 years old? A lovely woman named Ruth stopped by my house the other day with an envelope of photos of the property from 1967 or thereabouts. She and her husband had owned the home at that time. One photo shows the deck, which at that time appeared to have no red paint whatsoever.
Anyway, it’s getting too warm out here on the partial deck, so I guess I’ll head inside and see what the rest of Saturday has in store for me.
I wish you a happy weekend, and I hope nothing rotten happens to you.
50 years? Our deck died after 15 years. We live in Canada though.
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I suppose someone could have replaced some boards in the intervening years on my deck, But those huge beams are definitely original pieces, and the one I picked at was totally waterlogged. I have resolved to never look under the house, for fear of what conditions I may discover there. But if I ever do, I will make sure there are no pitchforks in sight. 🙂
Ha ha! I think our Canadian winters are very hard on decks.
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