The Ants Go Marching Home

Posted in DIY, Elevated Decks | 0 comments

The Ants Go Marching Home

Living in the Tyron Creek watershed (Portland, Oregon), John and his family are used to excessive rain and snow fall. However, during the winter of 2008, an unexpected 21” snowfall landed on their deck. Once the snow had melted, John realized a very unpleasant, undesirable truth—his deck had dropped 6” and separated from the house. It may not seem like a big deal that the deck dropped, but, considering the deck is 17 feet above ground in places, 6” was a huge deal.

“There was no laborious, gut wrenching decision to make, the deck had to go,” John recalls.

It was time to demolish the old deck and build a new deck, a better deck. While at the Portland Home and Garden Show, John met Patrick from Northwest Deckscapes. Patrick took a look at John’s decrepit deck. John’s 750 sq. ft. deck “made [Patrick’s] top five MOST ROTTEN DECKS. Why? All of the structural beams were HOLLOW because of carpenter ants.”

So, John began planning a new deck. “A wood deck in the world’s largest temperate rain forest was a poor choice.” A slate deck would be better, but “the problem is that the deck is elevated.” According to the internet, “’Only an idiot would put stone on an elevated deck.’” John didn’t care. There had to be a solution out there that would allow him to design and build the deck he wanted.

As he was researching, John came across the website for Silca Grates. With their naturally-designed hexagon technology, Silca Grates are a super-strong substructure suitable for not only elevated decks and patios but also for ground applications. The American-made Silca Grate grids (16×18” or 2 sq. ft.) are composed of durable 1 ½” thick engineered polymer. The grids are so strong that they meet or exceed residential and commercial building codes, which meant John could have his elevated slate deck.

So John’s summer project began. After constructing the pressure-treated deck frame, John installed the Silca Grate. 2700 stainless steel square screws later, the grids were done. As soon as the landscaping cloth was rolled out, John could begin laying the slate. He had decided against a patterned deck, trying to minimalize the number of slates that had to be cut as well as trying to make his deck look natural in the surrounding forest.

This, in the end, created its own pattern. Once the slate was down and spacers were placed, John brushed a layer of polymeric sand over the deck. Now came the “boring part”—he “sat in the sand and pulled out the spacers with a pair of pliers/vice grips.” After gently blowing the excess sand off the deck, John misted water across the deck, making the polymeric sand turn to concrete. Once everything else was completed, he sealed the deck, creating a gorgeous, finished surface. John and his family now had a low maintenance deck, and “it is my hope that I [John] will croak long before the deck succumbs to slate worms.”

All said and done, John’s elevated slate deck WAS possible. He just needed the right substructure; he needed Silca Grate. If an elevated slate deck in a watershed is possible, then YOUR dream deck is possible too. As John noted, Silca Grate “is fantastic.” Let us help you make your dreams come true.

Silca System

* The pictures above are of the process John went through with his deck.
Upper left corner: pressure-treated deck frame;
Upper middle: above view of Silca Grate on the deck;
Upper right corner: below view of Silca Grate on the deck;
Left middle: up-close view of Silca Grates;
Middle: beginning of laying the landscaping cloth and slate;
Middle right: halfway through laying landscaping cloth and slate;
Lower left corner: deck with polymeric sand before misting;
Lower middle: the finished deck;
Lower right corner: the finished deck.

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