The Deck: Posts & Beams

Are you tired of hearing about the deck yet? If I’m being honest I’m getting a little tired of working on, talking about and thinking about this deck during most of my free time. Since both Chris and I work full time we spend most of our evenings as well as most of the weekends working on the deck. Yes, I know that we are lucky to be able to do this and when it’s done we will appreciate it. It’s just that the process is beginning to wear on me a little.

Previously with the deck progress we finished laying down landscape fabric and gravel. With that done we were finally ready to move onto installing the posts in our post bases.

Since our design is based around the existing deck that is where we started. We used a series of levels, boards and posts to determine the height of the beams on our first level.

Posts & Beams 1

After we got our first post set we worked around to cut the rest of the six posts that make up the base of the first level.

Posts & Beams 2

With the upper level done we moved onto the lower or main level. Using the same process as the upper level we moved around the deck and determined the height and leveled all of our posts.

Posts & Beams 4

To double check we laid a 4×4 across mulitple posts to check that they were all still level.

Posts & Beams 5

Before we nailed the posts into the bases we decieded to nail on the top bracket that connects the post to the beam.  From our experience with the shed we knew that nailing on a flat surface would be much easier. Let me tell you even this way these nails are no where near easy to put in. Per the manufactures instructions we used 16D 3 1/2″ galvanized nails. We found them really frustrating to nail in since the moment a nail bent a little it was near impossible to remove or nail in straight after that.

Posts & Beams 6

After the caps were all on Chris nailed the post into the base which proved even more difficult due to tight spaces and weird angles.

Posts & Beams 3

As he worked Chris set a beam across all the connecting posts to make sure everything fit before nailing the posts into the bases.

Posts & Beams 7

After we got the posts up our first load of wood was delivered and with it came our 4×6 beams. Chris went outside after work on Monday to set up to start working. He cut a couple of the beams to the size we planned and set them on the posts to see how it would go. This is about when I came out and stood on the main deck and looked down and realized we had an issue. Well it seems that our thought process was off on our post heights. We made the lower level way too low. We ended up with on normal step from the current deck to the first level and one crazy big step down to the last level.

Posts & Beams 8

At this point we were really frustrated and discouraged. After realizing this we just decided to give up for the night and think about what our next step would be. Since we already nailed in everything we basically did the work for nothing and had to figure out a way to remove and replace all the posts for the lower level.

Posts & Beams 9

After a lot of trying to work out a solution we finally decided that we would just replace all too short posts. Chris went out the next night and ended up using a saw to first cut the post off from the base.

Posts & Beams 11

Then he came back and sawed down next to the bases to cut the post out of the base.

Posts & Beams 10

We ended up with a disappointing pile of posts and brackets that we knew wouldn’t be long enough to be able to use over.

Posts & Beams 10a

After buying more 4×4 boards and brackets we started the process of cutting the posts all over again. We were able to reuse a couple of the posts but we still ended up with 11 that had to be made knew. It was pretty exhausting to have to go through nailing in the ridiculous nails all over again but we didn’t really have a choice.

Once the posts were up we started working on the beams again. This is where we had our second issue. It seems that our orginal design wasn’t quite what we ended up with. After Chris cut a couple beams to length we noticed that one wasn’t long enough for the first level. I guess we should have learned by now not to trust our plan but we hadn’t.

Unlike with the posts we were lucky to not have already nailed the beams into the brackets. All we had to do was purchase a couple of replacement boards. From here on out we decided to measure and make due with what we have and not try and go solely off the plans.

Posts & Beams 12

It actually didn’t take us very long to figure out the beam lengths we needed. In the end we really were only off a couple of inches on one side of the upper level.

Posts & Beams 13

We were both really happy to be done with this part of the process so we can move onto the joists.

Posts & Beams 14

Posts & Beams 15

Next up we install the joists, blocking, stairs and all the railing posts.

Want to catch up with the rest of the deck process? Up until now we have explained how we designed the deck. How we got our permitprepped the ground, and dug our footing holes. After the holes were dug we then filled them up with concretethen we put down landscaping fabric and gravel.

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One thought on “The Deck: Posts & Beams

  1. What a great learning experience. There are really no short cuts. Pulling galvanized nails is a pain.. I’ve found that coated screws help when you have to correct a mistake. I am real proud of you both for the work done Grandpa K.

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