Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Recreating a Mid-Century Deck

Once spring finally arrived in Maine, we turned our attention to the exterior projects at the Mid-Mod Marvel.  First project was the deck - we hoped to have it ready to enjoy for the summer.  And the good news is we made the deadline, but just barely, Mother Nature was not on our side!  Too many rainy days.

So many of you have asked what materials we used and how we made the design decisions for the deck, I thought it might be helpful to outline the approach and decision making process we used.  So here goes - I hope it can help you figure out your own decking projects.

First and foremost, we would love to have restored the deck to its original design.  It's an amazing structure - almost 60 feet long and varies in width from 9 feet to 18 feet - that sits up high in the treetops, with a wall of granite below.
The railings were low and curved at the corners -  and they provide a unique design element.  There was also series of flower boxes built around the perimeter.

But there were challenges to that.  We need to consider  modern building codes.  The existing railing was far too low and the rails have to be less than 4" apart.  The flower boxes actually make it worse, because a child could use them as a step, to climb over the rail.  Using our usual 'safety first' criteria, we needed to make a design decision.
Oh, and if you go over the's a LONG way down onto a rocky hill!
The deck is perched up at the top of the ledge
We quickly agreed that the flower boxes had to go, the step they provided only made the railing height issue more challenging.  And while we LOVED the railing design, once we put each rail less than 4" apart, it loses is charm and looks like a boring, run of the mill railing.  Add to that the fact that we have some winter water views - and we want to increase the viewing area, not decrease it - we decided to change the railing.

So we had to decide what to do.  After much discussion and online research, we decided to go with a cable rail solution.  We topped it with a 6 inch wide 'drink rail' (it's wide enough to sit a drink on - great for parties!) to provide a wood focal point, but have almost invisible cables running below.
A 6" wide 'Drink Rail' is great for entertaining a crowd!

The next aspect we agonized over was the decking.  As soon as we started pulling up the old deck boards, we realized the supporting deck structure was in very bad shape.  Much of the wood wasn't pressure treated (did they even have pressure treated boards in 1972???) and had simply rotted away.  So we had to tear everything out and start again.

The guys created a new structure, which replicates the dimensions of the old deck, but provides the strength we need for decades.

For the decking, we were a house divided.  My husband really, really wanted a wood deck.  We've used meranti decking on several houses and it still looks great years later.  And with natural wood siding, it makes a lot of sense to stay with an all wood look.

But this house has a special challenge.  This giant roof drains onto the deck.  Our roofers strongly recommended we do not use gutters - they would just ice-up in winter and the weight would tear them off of the house.  So the decking will get a lot of abuse from the water every time it rains/snows/melts.

See the wear line in the original deck from the roof run off?

And that's why we decided we had to go with a synthetic decking.  We looked at lots of options and finally decided on AZEK.  Their Vintage Cypress decking looks surprisingly realistic and the color works well with our cedar siding and meranti drink rail.  It's killing my husband that we don't have real wood, but he agrees it looks nice and it's a smarter option from a maintenance perspective.

It took almost 2 months to do the deck - the wet, rainy spring meant that some weeks the team from Ethos Carpentry could only get 2 days of work done.  So we tried to be patient!

And since we had to tie the new staircase in and a handrail, we decided to replace the original cedar siding on the wing walls as well (the rest of the siding will be replaced this fall).  Doesn't the new cedar look fantastic?  Richard and I spent a couple of weekends getting it all stained.

The warm glow of the cedar is gorgeous!!!
So was it a big job?  Yes!  Was it worth the wait?  Yes!  Is there more to do?  Ha ha - yes, the handrail for the steps still needs to go up and the deck under-structure can be painted after it's aged a bit.

Here is the deck before

And here is after.  Of course it helped that we replaced all the sliding glass doors at the beginning of the project, so we have nice clear glass that opens and closes!
We spiffed up the original lights, aren't they gorgeous???
Another view before

and after

We're thrilled with the result.  The new deck is true to the original in shape and style, but meets current building codes and is safe and sturdy.
View towards Living Room and Dining Room - Before
View Towards Living Room and Dining Room - After
And while the railing has changed a bit, it still has a contemporary look that integrates beautifully with the rest of the house.
Did you notice we kept the tree that grows through the deck?  One of our favorite features!
And the whole time you're sitting on the deck, you feel like you're in a treehouse!

And it was finished just in time for the whole family to arrive for July 4th!  Let summertime fun begin :-)

Pin It


  1. I am sitting outside and envisioning myself sitting on your fabu deck. Congratulations job well done

  2. This is amazing. Beautiful design choices. Brava.

    1. Sometimes it's helpful to agonize through all those choices!! Thank you!

  3. Ahhhhhhh! To have a cup of morning coffee on your beautiful deck!

    1. It's my husbands new 'go to' destination every morning! He and the dog love sitting out there bright and early!

  4. Turned out amazing! Do you have any inside pictures you can post?

    1. If you go to the website on a laptop or tablet, you'll see a row of tabs at the top. Click on #14, Our Own Mid Mod House and you'll see all the Before & Afters. It's such an amazing house - we feel honored to live in it!

  5. Hi! Do you happen to remember what color/brand of stain you used on the cedar? It’s an amazing color!

  6. We used Western Red Cedar with Cabot's transparent Cedar stain. It look amazing!

  7. Mid century design………absolutely stunning. Kind regards Shane. wow_interiors_bedford.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...