Page 7 - Discover Winter 2021
P. 7

that this shiny new formula required special            so I started cutting away some more of the
        fasteners. I had been accustomed to using               adjacent decking, which revealed a section of
        galvanized steel screws, which they informed            the joist that was severely rotted, over about a
        me would react with the chemicals in the                4 foot span. Almost half of the width of this
        magic new lumber and disintegrate. They                 joist crumbled in my fingers when I grabbed
        pointed me toward a new, specially coated,              onto it.
        albeit more costly screw that would hold up
                                                                   I silently thanked my architect for
                                                                recommending two-by-twelves for joists. Had

           So I dutifully paid the extra for the fancy          I used something smaller, which would have
        new lumber and its associated fancy new                 sufficed, I am certain that someone eventually
        screws, because I had no intention of building          would have taken a quick trip downstairs to
        a deck that would start to rot and fall apart           the concrete patio below.
        after a few years. (Take all the time that you
                                                                   Pulling up the rotted deck boards was
        need here to finish laughing before continuing
                                                                something of a chore. In fact, it’s a back
        to read on.)
                                                                breaking exercise. I had installed the original

           As you might imagine, the boards                     boards with screws (you remember: the
        continued to rot, even some of the                      expensive ones), so all I needed to do was to
        replacement boards. It all came to a head after         unscrew them, right? Well, those specially
        Jo-Ann stepped on one, and her foot went                coated screws rotted… not all the way
        right through. She dutifully informed me that           through, but just enough to make the heads
        I had more work to do.                                  break off when rotational force was applied.

           This came on the heels of the construction              In other cases, the screws held fast, to
        of our new dock. The dock builder told us               the point where the drill driver stripped the
        that because of the poor quality of the “new”           heads. I had to resort to hammer and crow
        pressure treated lumber, he insisted on using           bar to dislodge the boards. Inspection of the
        composite decking. I had planned to build a             boards seemed to indicate that the screws
        stairway down to the dock, and decided to use           had actually contributed to the rotting of the
        the same stuff in its construction. This new            wood itself.
        composite decking did not disappoint, and I
                                                                   So, thanks to some well-meaning folks
        decided that it might be a good idea to replace
                                                                at the EPA, I have my work cut out for me.
        all of my wooden deck boards on my storied
                                                                The only candle in all of this darkness seems
        deck with the new composite.
                                                                to be that even after spending about $6000
           It had become clear to me by this point              on composite deck boards and stainless steel
        that replacing original rotted boards a few             screws, my new deck will still cost $8000 less
        at a time was the rough equivalent of peeing            than the tiny one that my builder wanted to
        into the wind. I had not installed more than            provide.
        two rows of deck planks when my foot went
                                                                   Somebody shoot me.
        through yet another rotted board. A close
        inspection revealed some rot on the joist,

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