Building Our Home: The Composite Decking Saga & The Shadydale Sawmill

Week 20:  Starting the porches

We spent Father's Day weekend working to get the back porch started, and with taking a million breaks for buying more drill bits, more screws, loading and unloading the decking material, and to wrangle kids, we didn't accomplish too much.   I felt bad that Allen had spent the entire holiday weekend working, but he at least had a new toy to try out on the decking.  

Here is what we have learned about composite decking:  it is the devil.  It looks great after the installation is complete, but it is a bit tricky to install.  We started on the back porch and worked our way from the outer pieces in to the house.  The material is made from recycled carpet fibers and is moisture, mold, mildew, and termite resistant.  It is flexible, which is great when you're installing it because you can slightly bend it to cover any porch imperfections, but makes loading and unloading it a bit tricky.  Special composite decking screws must be purchased (they aren't cheap!) and go ahead and buy about 20 extra drill bits because you'll be needing them.    


I'm becoming an expert at waiting.  I've always thought that my lot in life was to learn patience.  I'm still working on that virtue.  We didn't finish up the sheetrock at the expected time, so we weren't ready for the trim crew when they were ready for us.  We then had to wait a little over a week on them to finish their other job.  Some subs are definitely worth waiting for and I feel positive that this trim crew is worth the wait.

Week 21:  Tile & More Composite Decking

Happily cruising the Home Depot at 7 a.m.

Happily cruising the Home Depot at 7 a.m.

Over the last few weeks I've been gathering my tile selections for the farmhouse.  I purchased a River Rock Pebble Mosaic tile from Floor & Decor for the master bathroom shower, a creamy white 18" x 18" ceramic tile from Home Depot for the laundry room, and a rectangular gray and taupe tile for the upstairs bathroom.  

Choosing tile has always been tricky for me.  If you go to a hardware store (Home Depot, Lowe's, etc.) it seems as if there aren't enough options, but if you venture out to a flooring store, like Floor & Decor in Atlanta, the options are endless and I feel a bit overwhelmed.  

Waiting until the last minute, because of construction financing and the pure rush of everything going on, has become the protocol so the kids and I hit Home Depot on the morning of the tile install to pick up the remaining materials needed.  We are all continually amazed at how much stuff we can fit in our Kia Sorento, but I'm still lobbying for a box truck!  We delivered the materials and my cousin installed the tile over the next two days.    I am so happy with how the tile turned out, especially the pebble tile and I can't wait to see the spaces finished.

Master Shower Pan Tile Installed

Master Shower Pan Tile Installed

Composite Decking

More Decking

For the second weekend in a row, we played a fun game of "how many drill bits can we burn up".  By now we'd determined two things about installing this composited decking, the screws should be treated as gold (they're that expensive) and that drilling pilot holes in each joist before inserting the screw makes the job more tolerable.  Also, knee pads and a bottle of Aleve would be worthwhile investments.

We nearly finished the back deck on the second Saturday of installing it.  The decking saga is to be continued in the coming weeks.

Pine Floors Arrive

A live edge table top in the works at Colonial Mill Works in Shadydale, GA.

A live edge table top in the works at Colonial Mill Works in Shadydale, GA.

We ordered our pine floors from Colonial Pine Floors and chose a 10" Southern Yellow Pine, cut in Alabama and milled in Shadydale, GA.  We were able to pick-up our floors on a Sunday morning in a flatbed truck when the weather forecast called for a break in summer showers.  Since there wasn't room in the truck for carseats, we had arranged for the kids to sleep over with my parents the night before.  It's amazing how easy it is to wake up, get dressed and leave the house when it's just the two of us.  It happens so rarely that we haven't gotten used to going places alone.  We enjoyed a quiet ride to Shadydale and even stopped to pick up a cup of coffee.  It felt like a little day date.  Clearly, we don't get out much!  

Mr. Sisk, the owner of the mill, met us with a smile and happily loaded the flooring on the truck with a fork lift.  What a relief for our backs!  We browsed around his shop for a while and looked at some of his live edge table projects before heading home.  We rushed back to the house and slowly unloaded the floors, trying to strategically place the correct amount of flooring in each area, leaving room for the trim guys to work around the piles of flooring.  

Pine Flooring Ready for Install

Another exciting thing happened in Week 22.  We bought a mantle from a friend (who happens to own a fabulous little boutique in Social Circle, GA, Barbed Wire & Lace Boutique) that needs a little work, but has a gorgeous color and shape.  My better half wasn't too thrilled with it at first, but just mentioned that it had grown on him.  It will be perfect once there is a little paint on the walls.

Donna Peters

Front Porch Design Studio, Monroe, GA 30656, USA