When you are working out there considering what could be done, things tend to become clearer. I think the epiphany came after the twentieth trip up the ladder from the deck to install soffit material on the end wall. Climbing to the top of a shaking extension ladder with a piece of metal in one hand began to feel a little precarious. Reaching above my head, using two hands to slide the soffit piece into place was a balancing exercise that should be practiced at lower altitudes. I wanted to stop wondering how it would feel to fall to the deck below.
Having a second floor deck started to make a lot of sense. Instead of a roof covering, how about something to walk on? Better yet, how about something that would shorten the distance up the ladder to finish the soffits? I realized that there would be more trips up and down the ladder to finish house wrap, flashing, and let's not forget the siding.
What a great solution! This meant that the starting point would be to improve the footings that all of this would be sitting on. This is all very easy to say, but it means getting out the shovel and digging.
The summer brought more moisture than we have seen for almost 40 years. Worried about moisture next to the basement footing under the deck, I decided to add more weeping tile before working on the new deck footings. I think maybe I just like digging holes and filling them in.
After getting the weeping tile done, I proceeded to dig new holes beneath the deck for a little more moisture protection. The idea was to cantilever the deck over the supporting beam by a foot and a half. The new footings should be well protected from moisture. I have heard that dry is good when it comes to foundations. Fixing a heaving deck in the future is not my idea of relaxing fun.
After a morning of sweating in the hot sun and enjoying the sand flies that that love fresh moist dirt, I was ready to for the next step. With the holes prepared and my cardboard tubes in place the process of mixing cement was next.
When I considered hauling out my little cement mixer, I thought why not try mixing in a wheelbarrow just once? I brought down some pails of water and set about making mud.
There is something elemental about mixing cement by hand that is almost therapeutic. Working the material to the right consistency, adding just the right proportion of gravel, sand, cement and water is a true art. Mixing water and flour to make dough is a similar process. I think I got the mix right after the second batch and really began to enjoy folding the sand and cement together.
Filling the base of the holes with cement and then the tubes was a much longer process than having ready-made cement delivered, but far more enjoyable and cost-effective. I think I will use this method in the future just for fun. I am content now that I have solid footings that shouldn't heave in the winter.