On Friday I received the first draft of the shop drawings for my back steps from the steel fabricator! On Sunday I met with my neighbor/architect to review the drawings for necessary changes: Not too many. The fabricator needed from me the height for the rain barrel supports... and I need to know exactly where the seven concrete footings need to go... and then we had a couple of changes of angle iron to conceal the ends of a few boards.
The next task is for me to make a final decision on step material. I need approximately 100 linear feet of lumber, in a 1" x 6" size. I've narrowed down my choices to the following:
1) Trex - a composite man-made material. It's eco-friendly and basically lasts forever. I need to determine what colors it comes in, because I cannot stain it to match other woodwork. Another plus is that it would be splinter free on bare feet. (Coming from the girl who hates shoes!)
2) Ipe - this is a Brazilian hardwood. It's amazing! It's so hard and smooth that when I held the sample in my hands I thought it was composite! I found a local supplier here in Dallas who does sustainable harvest. It's naturally a very dark brown color.
3) Cedar - this is the time tested outdoor lumber. It lasts a long time under all types of weather conditions. Home Depot doesn't carry it, but Lowe's does. It's also readily available at area lumber companies. It does seem soft to me, although it is known to be durable. And it readily takes stain.
4) Oak - Obviously a very hard wood, easy to stain, likely expensive -- although I have not confirmed that.
Today -- and I say "today" because I've been very wishy-washy on this subject -- Trex and Ipe are in the lead. I plan a trip to a local lumber company or two this week for a hands on data collecting trip. One of the lumber companies touts on their website that they have a large selection of exotic hardwoods. They listed them and of course I'd never heard of any of them. So those will be fun to explore.
The next decision is powder coating color. I am nearly positive that I'd like the whole thing to be a copper color to match my gutters. I have a 12" square sample piece from the gutter company that I could give to the steel fabricator to match. (So glad I asked for a sample during gutter installation!) I need to confirm that there isn't a set palette of colors that I must choose from.
And then comes the pouring of the concrete forms! According to the drawings I will need to pour 7 forms that are 12" square, and insert in the tops of them the little steel footing that James will provide to me. I was pleased to learn that they would be 12" square -- a large target area for installation -- versus a 6" round with a spike coming out of the middle would have to match exactly! Whew. I feel confident we can make that happen. My architect has been pushing for me to contract out that work, but I think it is manageable. I need a consult with Red to confirm.
We also discussed the bench (lowered it) and the placement of spikes to slide garden shoes over and hooks for various things. My hope is that James will let me come out to the shop when the two pieces are nearly complete, and walk around it and say, "Oh, could I have a hook there? Could you add 3 sets of 2 spikes for shoes here?" and so on. I understand that it's important to get those items attached before powder coating so that the paint job is totally sealed against rust. Makes sense, but who knew? Well now I do. (As I've said before, I had no idea how complicated the process would be! I'm learning a lot -- awesome!)
Anyway... onward and upward. I'm excited to be moving forward on this project! My mind's eye deadline to have it done is Christmas. We'll see if that happens!