Cedar Deck Remodel With New Planter Box Benches!

14 Materials
$2000
7 Days
Medium

Our deck was starting to fall apart. The fir railing posts had some rot against the decking and the cedar deck boards were splintering. The foundation and supports were still intact but the finishings were badly in need of a remodel. Time for a DIY project!

We decided to remove the old decking and replace it with new boards. Since the fir railings just rotted anyways, we edged the deck with cedar stairs and
BEFORE - Old Deck
BEFORE - Old Deck
BEFORE - Here's the old deck. The cedar decking boards were starting to splinter and disintegrate. They were custom-milled true 1" thick boards with a nominal 4" width. The deck had wooden railings on three sides, although some sections had been removed to accommodate the old hot tub (which was dealt it's final blow acting as a giant ice cooler during our wedding).
Brainstorming the Remodel
Brainstorming the Remodel
Brainstorming - Before we could start demolition or order new lumber, it was time to brainstorm what we'd want/need. I made a simple 4-board-width decking pattern that matched the lengths of lumber we'd need to the lengths available at the lumber yard (with the minimum amount of waste). It's nice to know how much of which lengths of lumber you'll need when you're ordering at the lumber yard. The decking pattern also ended up being a real time and lumber saver once the decking started to be laid.
Old and New Lumber
Old and New Lumber
Choosing New Lumber - We found these lovely 1"x6" boards at our local lumber yard. They're a bit thinner than the old lumber, but are also wider. They shipped the boards right to our back yard! For the fascia boards (siding of the stairs, other vertical surfaces) we had custom 1"x8" milled. It had to be custom milled to get the 16' lengths required for the new stairs down to the grass.
Demolition
Demolition
Removing the Old Lumber - The first big step was to remove the rotted cedar decking. We also needed to relocate the perennials plants that were growing around the perimeter of the deck.
Lumber Delivery
Lumber Delivery
Lumber Delivery - We got the lumber for the project delivered. It made things SO much easier! We do have a pickup truck which we use for small loads, but there was a lot of boards in our order and some were very long. I'd definitely get it delivered again. If you order enough boards, sometimes they won't even charge you for delivery at the lumber yard.
Installing New Decking
Installing New Decking
Installing New Decking - The new 6" cedar decking was installed over the entire deck. My husband and his best friend did this work over a few hot summer days (and a lot of cold drinks!).
VOC-Free Stain
VOC-Free Stain
Eco-Staining the Deck - I applied a VOC-free Eco Wood Treatment to the deck boards to calm down the bright orange colour of the cedar and make the deck look like it fit in with the rest of our house. I was really happy with how this product turned out! It was quick to apply and turned the wood a lovely grey, aged colour (see photo with box and paint brush for example of stained cedar).
cedar deck remodel with new planter box benches
Grading the Lawn - I brought in some extra soil from the pile in the backyard to raise the grade of the lawn up to the stairs. I tried to keep the soil from touching the stair lumber due to moisture in the soil. The soil was lightly compacted and raked level. I topped the soil with a high-quality soil mix and then seeded it with grass seed.
DIY Planter Boxes
DIY Planter Boxes
Building Planter Boxes - We built planter boxes for the longest side of the deck. There were 2 large boxes (one on either side of a small set of stairs). The boxes had a 2"x4" frame, were clad in 1"x8" custom cedar, and were lined with salvaged plywood from our wedding dance floor (as well as some leftover plastic vapour barrier we happened to have). The planter box exteriors were also treated with the VOC-free Eco Stain.
Preparing for Planting
Preparing for Planting
Prepping the Boxes - The planter boxes were set on a slightly raised perimeter foundation and fixed in place. The boxes fitted with automated DIY drip irrigation (instructions for how to do this yourself are on my blog). The bottom of the boxes was left open to allow for drainage.
Hugel-Boxes
Hugel-Boxes
In-Place Composting - To reduce costs and keep as much organic material on our property as possible, we decided to try raised hugelkultur beds in the planter boxes. The bottom layer was deciduous logs from a tree we felled in the winter. This was infilled with nitrogen-rich weed-free yard waste and organic amendments. We topped this with a thick layer of homemade well-rotted leaf compost. The compost was then topped with high-quality potting mix.
Planting the Boxes
Planting the Boxes
Planting the Boxes - I planted canna lillies and dahlias in the boxes that had previously been in some large containers beside our house. I wanted to test out this height of plant to plan for next summer.
Finished Deck
Finished Deck
AFTER - Here's how it all looked at the end! I'm so happy with this result. The grass grew in beautifully and our new deck space feels much larger with the new stairs down to the yard (even though the footprint/structure is the same). I can't wait to plan what to grow in our planter boxes next year! There's more photos of the finished deck on the original post for this project on my blog (see the original post link below).
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Home for the Harvest | Mary Jane Duford

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • George
    on Jan 5, 2018

    Did you do a cost comparison between a composite like Trex and the cedar used for the decking. Trex et al is more expensive up front but you never have to stain and re-stain and re-stain thru the years.

    • Virginia Long
      on Jul 11, 2018

      It gets too hot on your feet. Worse than a wooden structure. My top deck is Trex and it is 12 ft by 42 ft long.. I am not sure if I would use that product again

  • Buz28336711
    on Jan 29, 2018

    Nice work ! How are the deck boards attached to the joists ? From the close up pix it looks like countersunk nails...could that be true ?
    Thanks,
    Harry

    • Mcgypsy9
      on Apr 9, 2018

      Honey I had to laugh at this...he didn’t mean what kind of nails/screws when he asked if they were countersunk. Countersunk means that it’s sunk below the level of the wood. This came out absolutely gorgeous! Kudos to the workers on this project!

Join the conversation

3 of 61 comments
  • Eroque022810
    on May 26, 2018

    Not just inspired down right jealous! Enjoy your hard work and beautiful deck.

  • Paula
    on Aug 19, 2018

    I guess this is not a question. I just wanted to say that I love the rail free design since the deck is ground level. My deck is 12 ft. high and obviously needs the railing. I'm also impressed by the use of logs from a downed tree to fill the planter boxes. Excellent work!

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