Major Backyard Renovation - Part 1

So for most of this year it's been radio-blog-silence from me, but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy.  Actually, it means I've been so busy I haven't had much time for hobbies.  Work and grad school have been getting in the way of me having a life recently. 

However, Matt and I are determined to complete our backyard project(s) this summer.  We want to actually enjoy our backyard, and we've been working hard for the past month.  There is a long list of projects that we have lined up, but we're well on our way to getting there.  As usual, we're doing 90% of the work ourselves, so it's taking a while.  Here are the "before" photos.


Backyard Project List:
-Move a/c unit (this is the one thing we hired out - don't want to mess with Freon!)
-clean, sand, and stain deck
-paint under deck
-replace deck railings
-replace deck stairs
-grind patio
-fill cracks in patio
-resurface patio
-build retaining wall around patio
-remove concrete walkway (we may hire this out as well)
-install patio addition
-complete landscaping

Whew!  Consulting the list it doesn't seem like we've done too much, but we've done preliminary work for the stairs, and I'm very close to finishing the deck railings.  Once I remove the old stairs I can use the new paint sprayer that Matt got me for my birthday and paint the bottom lattice.  I started to paint with a brush and then realized how ridiculous I was.  The paint sprayer should be much more efficient. 

So anyway, here's what we've done:

Deck stripped with the railing removed.
Kiwi helped to get the railings ready!  Holes were drilled into the wood at 4.5" intervals, which keeps the railings to code.  The aluminum posts are .75" wide, so there is 3.75" between each baluster. 

I gave up painting the bottom by hand, but I should finish it soon with the paint sprayer.
Stained deck ready for railing!

I started by attaching all of the bottom wood rails to the posts. 

Next I put all of the aluminum balusters in the bottom rail, and lined up the balusters with the top rail.  Then I attached the top rail to the post. I will be putting a 2x6 across the tops of the rails, which will finish it.

The pressure treated wood I used for the new railings (and will use for the new stairs) takes 6-8 weeks to dry out, so I'll be staining those parts to match the rest of the deck towards the end of the summer.  If you stain the wood before it's dry the stain might peel or bubble. 

We ground down the patio and filled in the huge, and not so huge, cracks.  We will be adding a flo coat to entire patio to even it out and add a nice finish. 

So there you have it!  We are working hard, and hopefully I'll have more updates soon!