I didn’t expect replacing the back deck to be an odyssey. May I share?

You may recall that my outdoor greening-up projects must deal with the shade. Dappled shade to deep shade, partly due to being on the north side of a hill. Not gloomy to us but rather forest-flavored. However, with conifers all around, the large existing deck required a lot of maintenance.

Maintenance to forestall rot, and more chores for safety, to knock down the slippery moss a couple of times a year. Scrubbing, reaming needles from the gaps,* and the first few years, painting on a preservative stain. Don’t think that no gap between decking boards would be better—we inherited that erstwhile design and ended up going to some trouble sawing in gaps.

And in the end, the landfill. We did save some beams for a future foot bridge. But as an aspiring green householder, I wanted our next outdoor living space to last and not end up in a landfill once again.

Our idea was, Let’s have a patio instead. A greener solution, permanent, and easier on us. That was June. As of October 21, it is still not done. But we’re closing in on being done and I’m over my latest anxiety attack about it, so it seems a good time to share some notes.

We were going to need to scoop a level spot from the slope that the deck papered over, put up a retaining wall, decide on patio “flooring” material, and decide how to get down from the door level to the patio level—more decking after all?

For stairs we had used Trex before, and were happy with the material (turned upside down to avoid the stamped woodgrain pattern) and happy with the recycling of plastic that is integral to their material. But time marches on in decking products, and I was surprised to learn that composite decking competitors have jettisoned the recycling idea and are using virgin plastic. Such a charming term, virgin plastic. Tell me, what is the point?? I’m not using enough petroleum in my Toyota, you want me to use petroleum to make more plastic so I can install it in place of wood? Sorry, no thanks. I had just assumed the composites all used recycled plastics. I’m glad I happened to check on it, when the carpenter based a bid on a more popular composite, and found the shocking facts. And they are not content to make more garden-variety plastic; in the interests of consumer demands, they are even using PCBs on the newer versions. You see how things drift.

* We did find a simple tool that was a great help. A couple of nails in a special fitting and set up with a long handle for upright work, and up comes the gunk.

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