Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Don't Fence Me In

I finally started on the deck handrails this past weekend. Any free time I have had lately has been spent trying to fix problems or kill bugs etc. so I was real excited to finally get to start something new. However, it did not get off to a good start. I woke up Saturday with a rare but potent migraine headache. I only get them once or twice a year but they are usually doozies when I do. It was storming outside anyway so I guess it was as good a time as any if I was going to have to be sick so I doped myself up enough to go to sleep (sorta). Mid afternoon I awoke with some relief and it had quit raining so I took the water pump I borrowed from work down to the spring and Allen came to help me start pumping out the muddy water. We did a lot of good I think and the spring is much clearer.
Anyway, we started on the deck Sunday and got about halfway. I brought home 2 big loads of leftover rebar from work and incorporated that into my handrails. It is an effort to save money and have something that is a little different. You know, think outside the handrail. With a little imagination and luck finding a lot of scrap material you can come up with some unique things. Of course, it is very strong also. But, I cannot take all the credit for the design as I saw something very similar to this in a magazine. I think I have mentioned before that out here I don't have any building inspections but I do have certain code requirements for the insurance company. Handrails and smoke alarms I think are the two main ones. So, the International Building Code states that: Porches, balconies or raised floor surfaces located more than 30 inches above the floor or grade below shall have guards not less than 36 inches in height. Required guards shall have intermediate rails or ornamental closures that do not allow passage of a sphere 4 inches in diameter. Now, it goes on to say that you cannot have horizontal rails that result in a ladder effect but I am going to try to get around that one. Almost every handrail I have ever installed on a commercial site (houses included) has had horizontal rails and nothing was ever said.

The posts were installed one at a time and the rebar threaded through as we went, with the longest pieces of rebar passing through 3 posts. This will be capped with a horizontal 2x4 and a 5 quarter deck board on top of that. I liked the use of these bent bars to do the corners and it is very sturdy. After everything is up I will come back and clean the rebar up with a wire brush and spray it good with a matte polyurethane. I am anxious to get this completed so I can get all the potted plants on the deck now that it is warming up. I thought I would plant some of the morning glory seeds that karl, over at Pile of O'Melays sent me, in a big pot and let it roam around the handrail.
Here you can see how the posts are attached to the deck. I notched the deck boards to let the posts come in flush and notched 3/4" out of the posts themselves. This lets the rebar that is centered in the posts fall pretty much right over the outer edge of the deck. The posts are through bolted to the band although in a few places I am going to have to use lag screws because the layout hit directly on some of the joists. Not a problem though. Allen put that little bevel on the bottom of the posts just for a little nicety. I get a three day weekend this week so I am very excited to get all that time to work on the house. I can finish the handrail in one more day I believe, now that all the posts are drilled, and have the other 2 days to work on the inside of the house maybe. The next big project is siding. I am so sick of looking at that Tyvek.

Lots of stuff going on now that the days are getting longer and I really want to get started on the garden too. There is still so much to do I get overwhelmed continually but try not to think about everything. I have made a list and just try to do one thing at a time. I saw my brother and sister a couple of weeks ago after a long absence and it shocked them a little how gray my hair is now! Don't know if it is the house or just genetics.


Ron said...

Wow, Edifice Rex (do you have a nickname?), those deck rails look fantastic! You are good!

I love how you used the rebar to create something so unique, yet so elegant. It's a fun challenge to think outside the handrail. Not to mention the other positives. :)


Anonymous said...

Beautiful! (just like everything about you).

When's the housewarming party, and is there a good bed and breakfast nearby?

Omelay said...

happy spring! the hand rail looks great. i love to see creative uses for recycled construction site materials. that'd be a great idea for a coffee table book. i bet threading all that re-bar was fun--especially hanging off the edge of the deck.

Woody said...

Annie...The handrail looks awesome!

I always thought they should print some kind of smart a** message on house wrap. Like I'll get it done when you bring the beer over here.


Richard said...

Great looking deck rails. Love the way it doesn't block the view.

MamaHen said...

Hello Ron! Yes, just call me Annie. And thank you so much for your compliments but I did have some help. Allen did the good saw work so I just directed and cut the rebar. It is nice to be able to use something that would be thrown away that has such a cool look.

Hello Pablo! thank you! you are such a sweetie. Well, the guys want me to have a party before our job ends, which might be about the middle of next month. the weather is getting just right so I am going to try. Now, my family won't come if the guys from work are going to be there so I don't know that it will be my official housewarming but close enough. You know, I don't know if there are any B&B's would think that there would be because this area is so scenic. I'll have to check.

Hey karl! Happy Spring to you all! You know, that is a great idea for a book. I really like to use stuff like that I can find, for the savings and the unique look and I don't find it to be that much trouble to deal with. It wasn't too bad to thread it really because the longest bars are only about 7'. the corners were just a little aggravating.

Hey Woody! thanks! I should just paint some message like that myself. ;) Beer wouldn't help me though; that siding would be so crooked.

Hey Richard! Thanks! I like that about it too.

Anonymous said...

horizontal rails that result in a ladder effect have been taken out of the latest edtion of the IRC (international residential code). You should be OK.

MamaHen said...

Hey Nathan! Thank you so much for that info!

Ginger said...

I'm about to install a rebar deck rail like yours! Love the look!! My husband is a bit concerned that the drilled holes that the rebar passes through will be hard for me to stain or apply a water barrier into. Did you stain your post and if so did you try staining inside the drill holes? If you didn't, how well have they held up? Have you had issues with water damage?

MamaHen said...

Hey Ginger! Well, I used pressure treated lumber on all the deck materials, including the posts, so I didn't worry about staining or anything. In fact, if you use PT lumber you need to check the warranty beforehand because you can sometimes void it if you stain or paint PT lumber. Or, that used to be the case anyway.
It has now been close to 8 years since I built that deck and the posts and all have held up great. You will have a little splitting at some of the drilled holes but it's not much and hasn't been a problem. I have had 2 deck planks that have spots rotted on them but these were purchased back when they had first changed the formula for pressure treated lumber and it was not quite as good as the stronger stuff the EPA made them stop using. I think they use a better formula now so, if you use PT, it should be good for many years.
However, if you are going to use plain pine or such I would definitely recommend using something like Thompson's Waterseal or such regularly on it and in the holes..

Amber said...

How far apart did you place your posts?

MamaHen said...

Hello Amber! Most of the posts are 3'6" apart. The corner post are closer.

Amber said...

Thank you!

Unknown said...

My deck post are in the ground and will support my deck rails... I want to use rebar (horizontal) and will drill holes in each post to slide the rebar through. Question... any ideas on how to get my holes aligned through the 4x4 post? The drill bit can easily veer up, down, left or right very easily. Thoughts on how to guide the drill bit straight through the post?

MamaHen said...

Hello Anon! Good question! Okay, here's what you do. Lay out your holes on the posts on both sides, always measuring from the same end of the post. Don't measure hole to hole; you'll get off. Now, keeping the drill as plumb as you can, drill half way through the post on one mark, then turn the post over and drill the rest half from that side. This accomplishes 2 things: If your hole starts slanting any you'll correct it when you join from the other side and no one will ever see. Your holes will always be aligned; doesn't matter what the inside looks like. This will keep you from splintering the wood on one side when the drill bit breaks the surface coming out, if you were to just drill straight through. Use this technique on anything where both sides of a hole need to be neat and clean. I would also recommend using a good sharp paddle or auger bit.