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Ipe does not necessarily need a finish (it grays out over time similar to cedar), but the aesthetic difference is totally worth it.
Although it’s still wet in this mid-progress shot, the finish actually dries to a very similar color. The directions also suggest wiping any excess away with a nap-free cloth but we didn’t find it to be necessary since our wood soaked it all up. Ipe can be pricey, but we saved about 50% by purchasing boards that had some type of imperfection. Was it worth it? The terrarced design provides informal seating and allows us to avoid handrails and guardrails. Although we planned on adding soil and grasses to the areas of the driveway that we jack-hammered out earlier this summer, we have since decided that plants are no longer on the 2011 agenda (next year!).
Ever since finishing the big 2010 project we’ve talked about hosting a celebratory post-reno house party.
Although the deck has greatly improved the backyard, we thought there was still something missing. We originally wanted to do all clear bulbs, but they didn’t have enough so we alternated with the amber color. The weekend before the party our driveway was still a haphazard (and hazardous) pile of concrete rubble.
Ok, so the remaining dirt pile wasn’t exactly awesome, but it did provide us with a nice venue for corn hole! In a last-minute stroke of genius, Kyle bought and installed a magnetic door stop that allowed the back door to stay open throughout the party.
Well, we started the day with every intention to finish the deck and clean up the concrete rubble in the backyard.
So last weekend, Kyle and Anton started with the upper two platforms that lead from the back door down to the main deck. Fortunately, Bailey and his buddy Chase kept themselves entertained on the make-shift plank walk that was temporarily installed to access the upper deck levels. Progress was slow over the weekend and Bailey finally got bored and retreated to the side of the house for a little afternoon snooze by the trash can. Since some of the boards are bowed, Kyle is using this fancy BoWrench tool (that he picked up at a local hardware store) to straighten out the boards.  Basically, one end of the wrench has a saddle that sits over the joist and uses it as a brace to bend the deck board straight. The color of the ipe really varies with how the sun is hitting it (and of course, if it’s wet). The cut ends of the boards are coated with paraffin wax as extra protection (you can see the still-wet evidence in the photo above). By dusk on Wednesday, about half of the deck boards were down and either screwed in or at least pre-drilled.  To create a smooth border at the deck edge (on the left in the photo above) Kyle just ran the boards a little long and then snapped  a chalk line and zipped the skillsaw across to create a clean edge. First we leveled out the soil that was still in clumps and piles from the previous weekend of hole-digging.
We tried to minimize the amount of new concrete pours as much as possible, but the small stair leading to the basement needed a proper support (as seen in the sketch below). By Sunday, the pressure-treated lumber had dried out enough so that Kyle could resume framing.


Next, he installed the joist hangers, which are deep enough to support both the main deck joists as well as the framing for the step along the east side. The joists hang off the outboard beam and ledger (at the wall of the house) and sit on the beam at the mid-span. Most of the PT (pressure-treated) members had to be cut, which meant we needed to treat the exposed edges with a wolmanizing agent (it’s basically a solution that gets brushed on to any freshly cut ends). After the joists were installed, blocking was added in the perpendicular direction to further brace the structure.
A rim joist was added to the front of the east step and all of a sudden it started to look a lot more like a deck. Kyle powered through and worked on Tuesday night as well, finishing the framing for the steps that lead up to the back door. We still need to finish the framing for the north steps (on the right side of the photo above), as well as the stair to the basement, but then it will be decking time! Since the original SketchUp renderings, we decided to make it a bit wider and showed you our progress in a series of posts (found here).
We used Penofin for hardwoods, which is a Brazilian rosewood oil that penetrates deep into the wood and turns it into a wonderous reddish-brown color.
The product suggests that you pressure wash or clean with a mild detergent to remove dirt, debris or any mill glaze.
Working from the back door out, we were able to cover everything without walking on the wet surface. The wood is Acacia and it took the oil fairly well, turning it a bit more yellow than we would have liked, but better than what it was.
With eastern exposure, it’s a great place to sit and sip coffee on a Saturday morning. In that post from March, we talked about building planter boxes to flank the deck out of corten steel.
We still plan on adding an awning over the back door and window to protect the door and allow for inclement weather grilling. Maybe 2012? Now, we’ve had a few blow-outs at chezerbey before, but somehow they always seem to happen when the house is a complete mess. I haven’t seen one of these contraptions since college, but it really did make the most sense for the 50+ people that we invited.
We put an ad on Craigslist thinking everyone would rush to get our beautifully cut chunks of driveway, but by Sunday evening we didn’t have a single bite. With an actual space for people to gather, we’re thinking about doing this party thing on a more regular basis. After a few months it developed these small brown pimples and then the stalks started to turn brown. Ipe is a good choice for a deck because it is durable, naturally resistant to rot and never has to be refinished (unless you want to). After laying out the first row of boards, we snapped a chalk line at each joist location to mark where to pre-drill the holes and told Bailey not to walk on the loose boards. After everything is installed, we plan on sanding the wood and putting a protective finish on it.


With warm(ish) temperatures and hours of daylight left we decided to put on our grubby clothes and get to it.
First he covered the top of the beams with Grace Vycor sticky flashing, which adds extra protection against wood rot and will extend the life of the deck.
In order to avoid yet another large and annoying footing, we decided to cantilever that framing out, backspanning the members and bracing them against the joists above. We didn’t want Bailey to get too curious, so we kept him inside where he maintained a close eye on the progress. He was probably expecting to do something manly like pour concrete or operate power tools, but instead Kyle gave him a roll of sticky flashing. This started out as the story of two architects and their 1910 fixer-upper in Seattle, but you know what they say…when you own an old home, it ends up owning you! Construction was more or less done by early August, but the last thing on our to-do list was to apply the oil finish.
One gallon covered the whole deck (just under 400 SF) and we applied it using a bristle brush for the horizontal surfaces and a hand brush for the vertical surfaces. We opted to pressure wash since we had rented one for the foundation work several weeks ago. The Penofin really helped to blend everything together and mask any discoloration between boards. We still have 3 more chairs to complete and then realistically, probably time to put them back in the carport for the season. Concerned about the appearance of the wood (and that it would be a total nightmare to install) Kyle drove over to Sultan a few weeks ago to check the goods out in person. It’s not a routine that would have to be maintained (like cedar, ipe grays out a bit over time), but the process usually brightens the wood and brings out the reddish-brown hues that ipe is known for.
With the footings complete, the next step was to prep the area that would soon be covered by the deck. A few weeks ago, he found a seller south of Olympia with a stock of 4×8 steel panels for a really reasonable price. As if a sink-less bathroom and black plastic shower curtain wasn’t enough, we were still wrapping up the bedroom project and sleeping in the living room. Ok, so well-designed string lights were not the easiest thing to track down the day before the shindig, but we finally found some at a party supply store in North Seattle.
Early last week we were contacted by a local landscaping company who saw our ad and wanted it all. So we don’t have a completed deck to show you just yet, but we do have ample Bailey photos so we hope that will help fill the void. Metaphorically speaking of course, it’s not like Bailey actually helped fill any voids in our deck. There was still a truckload worth of small rubble that Kyle, my brother and I shoveled up and disposed of late last week.



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