You wouldn’t think that people who only use their decks five months out of the year would place so much importance on outdoor living. Maybe it’s because we’re deprived of it for so long by long, rainy Northwest winters—that when given the sunny opportunity—we are deck denizens.
That same grey winter that’s tough on us is even harder on our decks: It rots out platforms, warps decking, washes out posts, and in some cases helps spread dry rot into the home. It causes a lot of deck repair projects.
That was the case with Leslie and Robert’s hillside SW Portland home. They’d been dealing with a problem deck for over a year—even submitted deck repair plans–and the city turned them down flat. During the last summer season the couple was even fearful to step foot on the deck. So, they hired Neil Kelly Designer, Jack Heinrich. “We needed to put in a lot of engineering hours to make this deck repair project work,” says Jack. “And then when we got into it we found the dry rot was much worse than anyone thought.”
That’s an understatement. The dry rot was so bad on this deck repair job they had to jack up part of the house, replace the lower floor wall, and then lower the house. “In addition to providing great design advice, planning and management from the start, Jack saw us through a couple of crises with his characteristic calm, extensive knowledge, and good humor,” says Leslie. “His world-class skill in diplomacy was a big benefit on occasion as well.”
Once Jack and his crew—headed by Tony Zilka—were satisfied that the deck was solid, they went about adding some flair. In this case, flair is called the Westcoat ALX Waterproofing system with a custom sand-texture finish. Well, of course—you just knew that’s what it was called, right?!? Okay, so another word for it is: Slate, or “slate-like”, or “slate-looking”. “I think there’s a bit of neighborhood deck-envy going around,” says Leslie. “Everyone loves our new outdoor living room—asking—‘where did you get the slate?’ and saying ‘Wow, this is the prettiest deck I’ve ever seen!’”
Besides looking drop-dead gorgeous, the deck is no longer drop-dead dangerous. In fact, it seems to Leslie to be the safest part of the home. “If there’s an earthquake, we will run onto the deck,” she says. “The deck will hold the house up and keep us all from sliding down the hill—not the other way around.”
Sure, maybe because we all live in the Northwest we don’t get to use our decks as often as they do in Southern California. But when we do—we really know how to enjoy them.