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Lift up the deck and move it. The owners have done it twice. The deck is modular.

Lift up the deck and move it Designed to be flexible, the deck you see above was not built specifically for the small back garden where it now resides. Indeed, all the 2-by-6 redwood decking, the 4-by-4 trellis posts, and most of the pressure-treated 2-by-6 supporting framework were moved twice already, before ending up at Susan and Corky Chapman's house in Alamada, California.

The Chapmans first saw the modular ground-level deck (but with a different perimeter shape) at last year's San Francisco Landscape and Garden Show. Before installation at the show, it had been stored in sections in the garage of its designer-builders, landscape architects Katherine and Steve Evans.

The Evanses' goal was to design a deck system that could be made ahead, moved to a site, and assembled in a few days.

With a walking surface that's made of rectangular modules in two sizes, the deck could be put together in the shape most appropriate for an individual site. If necessary, it could be easily disassembled and moved. With its lightweight panels, this system would also be useful for roof decks, and, since the panels merely rest on the frame, they could be lifted off for maintenance of under-deck areas.

To keep construction uncomplicated, the system uses many same-size pieces of wood, and all board ends have square crosscuts. The deck can be built with just two power tools: a circular saw and an electric driver-drill. A radial-arm or chop saw with a simple stop jig would speed cuts of repeated lengths. Another way to speed construction: you could have a lumberyard cut most of the wood to size, but this will add to construction cost.

Rotate around the hub piece

The deck is made up of almost-squares, each composed of nine 2-by-6s. The 2-by-6s in one module run perpendicular to those in adjacent modules.

Rather than meeting at a central point, four contiguous modules are offset around a 4-by-4 post, to which the supporting framework is fastened with 3/8- by 3-inch lag screws. (See the photograph showing typical post configuration on page 144B.)

From each such interior post radiate four 2-by-6s set on edge, positioned to support the decking panels. Each 2-by-6 is screwed to a side of a 4-by-4 and runs to the next post, establishing a simple grid. Except for the redwood 2-by-6s visible around the perimeter, all these freamework 2-by-6s are made of pressure-treated wood cut in 50 1/2-inch lengths. To keep the decking panels from sagging, the Evanses added a 50 1/2-inch 2-by-4 midway between parallel 2-by-6s (see the sketch on page 144B).

Most of the central posts either extend 1 1/2 inches above the 2-by-6 frame pieces to fit flush with the surface of the deck or rise 9 1/2 feet to support a skeletal trellis. Only around the perimeter are some post tops cut flush with the framework and covered by the modular panels.

The modular decking panels

Each nine-board-wide module has one of two rectangular shapes, depending on its position in the deck. Both shapes are 50 1/2 inches wide--the same length as the 2-by-6s and 2-by-4s on which they rest. (This assumes that each 2-by-6 is actually 5 1/2 inches wide, and that there is a 1/8-inch space between boards.)

The length of the surface 2-by-6s varies with the position of the module where they're used. The boards in interior modules and those that run parallel to an outside edge (module A) are 43 1/2 inches long. The boards that run perpendicular to an outside edge (module B) are 47 inches long--adding the with (3 1/2 inches) of the perimeter posts they cover.

The Evanses built the deck after determining how many of each module were needed. For each module, they cut deck boards to the appropriate size, turned them face down on a flat work surface, adjusted their spacing, and positioned two parallel 45-inch-long 1-by-4s about 15 inches in from the ends of the grouped boards. They fastened the boards together with pairs of 2-inch self-tapping woodscrews set through the 1-by-4s and into each 2-by-6. This way, no screws show on the decking surface when the modules are right side up.

Frame construction

The deck shown here starts from an exterior house wall and extends out into the garden. It sits over an old concrete patio, a gravel path, and bare soil.

The frame started with a ledger bolted level to the house. Working out from the ledger with the precut frame pieces and a framing square determined the proper locations for the posts. These rest directly on existing concrete or are set on precast piers embedded in the soil. A long level was used to mark the height of the framing pieces on the posts to keep framing level with the ledger.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:May 1, 1991
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