One of our clients has been calling Garrett Churchill out to their Gwynedd Valley home since 2004. We’ve helped them out with everything, from planting, lighting, and even patio work. Their beloved bluestone patio was reset by our talented team 13 years ago!
Part of the challenge of this project was working around the large trees just off the edge of the patio. Their deep, massive roots tend to move and shift the bluestone patio, making it a danger to walk on.
Thirteen years after resetting it, Garrett Churchill was back to take another look at the landscape and see what we could do to create a more permanent, long-lasting outdoor space for the family to enjoy.
Our client really wanted a deck to replace the patio. Our concern was trying to get footings placed without having to destroy tree roots as well as trying to get adequate framing in place. The deck needed to be close to the ground to tie into the existing step out of the house and two adjacent pathways, so a floating deck was the perfect solution.
Removing the trees was not an option for the client, but they also didn’t want to have to call us back in another 10 to 15 years when the roots had done more damage. That’s when we proposed a floating deck. The clients were in love with the idea, so we immediately got to work with the plans.
Designing A Floating Deck
Since our biggest concern about building any hardscape surface was the framing and footings, a floating deck was the perfect solution. We worked closely with Ken Justice, P.E., to come up with a design that would preserve the tree roots and allow for minimal future movement. Ken worked with us on our previous project building a floating boardwalk in Elkins Park, so we knew he was the best man for this job.
We began by removing the bluestone patio and base, then installed a layer of crushed stone. On top of the crushed stone is a composite decking to keep the pressure treated frame from coming in contact with the ground. Although pressure treated lumber can be used for direct ground contact, we wanted to be sure that this deck would last a lifetime. Keeping the pressure treated wood above the ground surface will ensure its longevity.
The pressure treated wood was used to frame out the deck, complete with all required joist hangers. With the frame in place, it was time to start building the deck, and we had the perfect material in mind for the finished surface.
Using Ipe To Build A Durable Deck
We constructed the deck itself out of a Brazilian farmed hardwood called ipe. You’ll recall we used this wood to replace a deck in Glenside a few years back. It has become quite a popular selection, thanks to its durability and beautiful finished look.
However, because ipe is so hard and dense, every project requires new saw blades and more than a few countersink bits to get through the project. The deck pattern was quite unique, and provided its own challenges, but the end result turned out quite nice.
The entire deck – excluding the perimeter boards – was put together with hidden fasteners and adhesive so there will be no visible screws on the surface. After the perimeter boards were secured, the holes were plugged with ipe plugs, glued, and sanded flush.
In addition to the challenges of the material we were working with, we had a few other hurdles to jump before this project could be completed. The client had a very strict deadline, and also wanted the wood sealed prior to installation by their painter. Since there was not enough room to seal the planks inside, we had to wait until temperatures were just right to complete the work outdoors.
Our client was thrilled to finally have outdoor space that would last – and completed in time for the festivities surrounding a spring wedding!