Starting the Deck Project

With the weather getting warmer this week, we decided it was a good time to start the repairs on our deck so it would be fixed by the time we got ready to dig out all of our patio furniture and start using it again.  Our deck is built around a tree that we love because of all the shade it provides, but the problem is that the tree has grown so much since the deck was built that it started pushing up on the deck, creating a “bump” around the tree.  The deck still felt pretty solid from the top, but when we crawled under it, we could see that the tree roots had started pushing up on the deck frame so much that the joists had buckled and started to twist.

The "Hump" In the Deck
Tree Roots Pushing Up on the Deck

Tree Roots Pushing Up on the Deck

To make more room for the tree roots, we decided to cut out the old joists and cross beams that were resting on the tree roots and replace them with new framing that gives the tree more room to breathe.  Because the deck is so close to the ground around the tree, we had to start by pulling up the deck boards around the tree to expose the old framing.  This turned out to be a bigger job than we expected since the boards were about 16′ in length.  After prying a couple of those up, we decided a more efficient approach would be to cut the boards in half, making sure to stagger the seams, and remove smaller sections instead.

With all of the decking around the tree removed, we then installed a new joist on either side of it, with notches in the appropriate places to leave plenty of clearance around the roots.  Since we’d had to notch the 2″ x 8″ joists for the roots, we reinforced each of them with a 2″ x 4″ attached with carriage bolts for a little extra strength.  With the new joists in place, we then cut out the existing framing and let the deck relax so that there wasn’t a “hump” around the tree any more.  We wound up having to notch a few more of the existing joists than we expected due to more tree roots, but once we cleared all of the places where the tree roots were supporting the deck frame, it pretty much flattened itself out within about a half hour so that we could complete the framing around the tree and add some cross beams to support the existing joists we’d had to cut out.

Removing the Old Joists

Removing the Old Joists

The New Framing Around the Tree

The New Framing Around the Tree

The new framing leaves at least 3″ between the top of the tree roots and the bottom of the joists and about 9″ around the base of the tree, so we’re hoping to not have to revisit this project again in the near future.

Now, we’re starting to work on replacing the deck boards we had to take up to install the new framing for the deck.  We’ve been able to replace most of the boards we removed, but a few of them were damaged, so we’re piecing the deck back together as best as we can.  We’ll wind up needing to buy a few replacement boards, though, and we’re finding it impossible to find a lumber yard that carries redwood decking.  Looks like we’ll probably have to use cedar for the last few boards we’re missing instead and then try to stain the whole thing to match after the fact.

With the “hump” around the tree fixed and a fresh coat of paint & stain, it’ll be like a brand new deck by the time we’re done!

Filed Under: Home Improvement,Landscaping

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