Time to clean up from Winter and plant for Spring.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
I have a motto when undertaking just about any repair job I tackle, "if it didn't take a rocket scientist to build it, it's not going to take one to fix it." This motto has cost me flesh, blood, sore muscles and back in my life time, but the repairs always got done. So before you was today's 4 hour repair. The steps to our back deck were rotted and splitting. It was only a matter of time before someone fell and injured themselves. You can't tell from this picture, but the overhang on the top two steps were split to a point were you could pull the wood off with your hands. This looked like a simple thing to repair. Looks can be deceiving. So I was smart, I measured each step to make sure what size decking I needed. I was even smarter and saved myself time and hassle by having the steps cut at the hardware store.
So my thought was to just unscrew each tread, removed the tread and lay down the new tread and screw it into place. Oh if only it had been that easy. What I discovered was not only were the wooden treads rotted, but the screws the guy (former homeowner) used to install the treads were not meant for outdoor use. When I tried to unscrew the screws, I either chewed the screw head out because it was soft and rusted from years of exposure, or when I put the drill bit on the screw, the top part of the screw evaporated into a cloud of rust dust, leaving the screw body lodged into the wooden tread.
So my next thought was, I would use a drill and just drill the screws out. That didn't work. Next solution, get a reciprocating saw and saw through the treads and bodies of the screws to remove them. That worked, but first it entailed me driving to the hardware store to purchase said saw, then much cutting and prying with a crowbar before I finally had all the treads and bodies of screws removed.
Next I laid each new tread in place to make sure the sizes were correct before installing them. I knew enough to pre-drill the holes so as not to split the wood when putting the screws in. On the very first hole, my drill bit came out of the drill and got stuck in the tread. No amount of pulling and twisting with pliers would get the drill bit out. I have a cheap drill that doesn't have a chuck to lock the bits into the drill tightly, so sometimes this happens.
Next step after I exhausted all the tools in my house to remove the drill bit without success was to take the tread across the street to my neighbor's house and have him use his vice grips to get the drill bit out. That worked, so I marched back home with the tread and decided to continue pre-drilling the holes, just not to go in as deep so I wouldn't lose the drill bit again. That didn't work, the bit continued to pop out. So I said to hell with it and just started screwing in the treads and splitting be damned. I am happy to report the splitting was minimal.
So, voila! The steps are done. I did not draw any blood with this repair, so that's good. Below are the remains of the old treads that I had to saw out. Not too bad for my first decking repair. I would definitely get a better drill before attempting something like this again.