Last Friday, I teased a recap of our recent deck rebuild — or more specifically an overview of installing garapa decking on the newly rebuilt deck — but then I proceeded to dive headlong into a 2008-9 decking-with-garapa flashback. Sometimes it’s helpful to discover the backstory before plunging into the present.
Here was my swaggering introduction (before getting lost down the rabbit hole…)
But you needn’t wait any longer. Patience is overrated, and the new deck “eye candy” is ready. Pictures aplenty coming your way shortly, but first a little backward glance to Rosslyn’s first garapa deck waaayyy back in 2008-2009. You see, this newly completed deck is a redo of the same deck and decking completed during our epic rehabilitation project a decade and a half ago.
So, without further ado, let’s look at the first iteration of Rosslyn’s garapa deck. (Source: Garapa Decking 2008-2009)
It was nostalgic to look backward at the original deck from inception through evolution through… failure. (Actually I didn’t include any of the documentation of the deck substructure’s gradual but premature decay. But I do have some unsettling photos squirreled away to review sometime. Maybe as a way to celebrate the longevity of the replacement deck.)
Today, instead of looking backward, it’s time to showcase this A+ rebuild, the handsome material we used, and the remarkable team that transformed a frustrating stutter-start (and a heady pipe dream) into a magnificent outdoor living space to make memories with family and friends.
Installing Garapa Decking… Again!
Before I plunge into the process (and handsome results!) of installing garapa decking on Rosslyn’s newly rebuilt deck during summer 2022, I’ll fill you in on the evolution of this project.
As you may already know, at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009 Rosslyn’s deck looked picture perfect. In fact, it looked almost indistinguishable from the finished photos I’ll be sharing shortly in this post. That’s, of course, because the new deck is simply the old deck built again. Built better, because the substructure will not deteriorate prematurely like its TimberSIL predecessor.
The plan and timeline for Rosslyn’s replacement deck came into focus over a year ago.
During the summer of 2021 we allowed a carpenter to sweet talk us into entrusting him with… [three separate, historically sensitive, vitally important carpentry projects.] Although we initially informed him that our confidence was wavering given his subpar communication and organizational record during the planning and scheduling phase, we ignored our misgivings (and the warnings of many) and allowed him to persuade us that we had nothing to worry about. He planned to start by tackling the boathouse gangway and waterfront stairway in September/October, and then he’d move on to the house deck. We’d be so impressed, he assured us, that we’d then hire him to rehabilitate the icehouse. If only he built as well as he talked! (Source: Rosslyn Redux)
I’ve already covered in brief but painful details the calamitous unraveling of this 2021 plan, so I’ll sidestep the misery and fast-track to the good part. While our carpenter fiasco of the previous year might be summed up as a run-of-the-mill “crash and burn” story, this summer’s refreshing sequel was a quintessential “phoenix rising” story of mythic proportions.
And while there are so many “main characters” in this sequel that I can’t really credit one single protagonist — this was a truly inspiring group that coalesced into a collaborative, skilled, productive, respectful, creative, communicative team — it was Hroth Ottosen who served as the unmistakable catalyst. If I’m able, I’m hoping to eventually persuade Hroth to share his very personal decision to roadtrip east from Santa Fe, New Mexico to spearhead Rosslyn’s deck rebuild after the 2022 catastrophic wildfire season that ravaged the southwest. For now, I’ll say simply that Hroth reminds us that it is possible to emerge from calamitous circumstances braver, wiser, stronger, and freer than we were beforehand. I see an uncanny parallel between BOTH Rosslyn’s current rehab projects and the aforementioned 2021 fiasco AND Hroth’s decision to sojourn with us awhile on the Adirondack Coast. Like I’ve already suggested, a phoenix rising from the ashes!
Garapa v2.0 (aka Re-decking)
Time to dive in! I tried to post relatively current updates on the team’s progress during July, August, and September, so rather than getting in the way of the story, I’m embedding our Instagram posts that chronicle our step-by-step journey installing garapa decking (and sealing the boards to preserve and enhance their already breathtaking natural beauty.) I’ll add a few thoughts along the way, but for the most part a quick scroll through the images and videos will tell a purer and more visually satisfying story than my words.
The decision to deck with garapa back in 2008 rested on several considerations:
- sustainable, plantation grown, responsibly harvested hardwood,
- quality and endurance to outperform more conventional wood decking given the variable demands and extremes of our Adirondack Coast location, and
- color and grain to complement late 18th, early 19th century architecture without appearing too contemporary and/or exotic.
We fell in love with garapa, and it handily ticked all three considerations.
We sourced the milled-to-order garapa decking lumber from Advantage Lumber (@advantagelumber), and I was impressed with both their customer service and sales support. Unfortunately delivery of the lumber as less impressive. Advantage Lumber arranged shipment of the substantial order via ABF Freight (@abftoday) and — as with the majority of the logistical partners with whom we’ve worked in the last few years — they overpromised and underdelivered. Despite clearly articulating our tight timeline and receiving assurances that we’d received our garapa decking in time, the new decking material arrived late due to “logistics delays”. Sound familiar?
On July 28, just shy of high noon on a scorchingly hot and humid day, we received our order. Perfect conditions for unloading. David wisely volunteered to inventory the lumber inside the shady truck, Tony tackled the task of unloading lengths of garapa from the truck and passing it down to the deck where Hroth and I hauled, sorted, and stacked the precious cargo.
Unloaded, sorted, inventoried, and ready to become Rosslyn’s new deck floor, this garapa looks absolutely sumptuous after a midsummer rain. We were all a little gobsmacked with the sheer beauty of this lumber. Even an aesthetically astute bat (or three) dropped in to celebrate the honey hued hardwood.
It took a couple of days for the team to find their groove, eager to balance forward motion with perfect execution to ensure that their workmanship matched the beauty of the material. Soon they were installing garapa decking from sunup to sundown, performing a mesmerizing choreography as efficient and beguiling as a ballet. (I better not let them read this or they may refuse to let me document their work ever again!)
Although progress on this sort of deck is steady and incremental, my eagerness to complete the project sometimes overtook my patience. Why aren’t we further along yet?!?! But each day, reviewing the team’s accomplishments since morning afforded us all a daily opportunity to romance the stunningly beautiful deck taking shape. End-of-day reflection (revitalized with frosty libations) frequently ran to artistic and poetic reverie more than carpentry tropes and jokes. I kid you not, but again, don’t let the guys know I said that.
Although that post above specifically called out Eric Crowningshield, this project brought out the best in everyone. If my photo / video recording were as nimble as I’d have liked, I would have posted a similar tribute to every single member of the team. I’ve already mentioned Hroth Ottosen above. You’ll be hearing plenty more about him in the weeks and months ahead because he’s such a vital asset. And, Pam Murphy, our friend and property / project manager extraordinaire, not only keeps our diverse projects sorted and successful, she is the most capable “air traffic controller” ever, juggling everyone and everything without letting anything tumble out of orbit.
These are a few of the most visible stars on this allstar team, but there are so many other: Susan’s cousin, David McCabe; our friend, Ed Conlin; electrician Brandon Dumas; jack-of-all-trades, Tony Foster; and Eric’s ever-reliable and hardworking team (Matt, Justin, Andrew, Jarrett, and Jason) Not only is the end product from this collaboration an understated masterpiece fit for the handsome home, but every day cooperation with this team was a pleasure and a privilege. We are profoundly grateful. (In fact, this is precisely why they’ve all teamed up for the icehouse rehabilitation project!)
There are the predictable successes with a project like this, but there are also serendipitous triumphs. One among many is captured in that delicate image above.
Once the last board is scribed and screw head is plugged, it’s time to oil the garapa decking. It’s at this point that everything comes together, and the results are far more glorious than the sum of the parts.
As each garapa board is tenderly treated with oil, the drama and depth of the wood comes alive. Such beauty!
There remain a few last details to conclude the project — a bit of landscaping here, a few painted trim details there — but the results are breathtaking. And this is never more evident than in the later afternoon when that mesmerizingly lush sunlight bathes the wood in amber and gold.
And this, my friends, is the sun soaked conclusion of our summer (and autumn) 2022 Rosslyn re-decking adventure. Installing garapa decking isn’t an overnight victory lap, but the painstaking efforts will pamper us for years. Susan, Carley, and I extend our most sincere thanks to everyone who helped transform this dream into reality.
What do you think?