Replacement of Deck
We have a 1200 sq ft 20 year old PT yellow pine deck that includes a walkway 5'x 35'. About the last 20 feet where it ends at the driveway needs replacing. Unfortunately, this job seems to be a little small to be cost effective for the good companies in our area. The ones that came out to look at the project were really in hopes that I would actually replace the whole deck. They were all in agreement that its actually in pretty good shape and should be good for at least another 5 years.
So I've found an individual to do it that has done several similar projects (decks and pergolas) for friends of ours that look good. I understand the risks of not having a contractor per se, but I don't really have a choice here since I can't do it myself.
I will buy the materials (PT yellow pine), 2x6 planks, 4x4 posts and other support material. The plan is pretty simple, we'll tear out the existing walkway and basically repeat the same structure. The walkway is level and is just above the ground with the top of the planks no more than 8 inches above the ground. Here are my questions:
1. When we take out the existing portion of the walkway, I assume the existing posts should also be removed and not left in place or is it OK to leave them in as long as you're not hooking into them? Assuming we take them out should we use the same holes or fill them in and use new holes - just thinking about rot issues.
2. Is there any long term benefit to staining/sealing all sides of the wood before you put it down?
3. We used a weed barrier when the deck was built, I assume this should be replaced with a new barrier. Correct?
4. The section of walkway we're replacing is shaped like an "L" with the junction being a nice curve instead of a square. We are going to change this to a "tee" so that the walkway will continue another few feet and ramp down to the yard. The purpose here is to allow my son to get into the yard in his powered wheelchair. My concern is the end of the ramp - should we have some type of concrete or stone footing there to maintain some some semblance of a smooth transition? What do you suggest?
5. We live in Houston - lots of hot sun, rain, humidity and trees. The reason for this section going before the rest of the deck is that it had major sun exposure for most of its life and most of the rest of the deck has shade a large portion of the day. This area also has had some tree root issues which have caused some minor buckling. Any suggestions on the root issues?
6. We have done a pretty good job of maintenace by using Cabot stain and sealer every two years - pain in the butt. Assuming we continue to do this type of maintenance (and yes we're here to stay), is there a lot of advantage to using IPE instead of PT yellow pine?
Thanks in advance for your responses.