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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I had a wood deck with steep and narrow stairs and a great deal of wood railing that blocked my view from the house and was an ongoing maintenance issue. It is no small matter to refinish wood decking and railings and dozens of balesters.

I decided to build a new deck structure using ground contact pressure treated lumber and to have it self supporting and eliminate the use of a ledger connected to the house. I wanted it able to support the load of up to 2 inch thick pavers, although I found 1" thick travertine which I used.
I had planters built using cinderblock and SBC on the inner and outer facings as per code a guard rail is only needed if there is more than a 30 inch drop from the deck for a distance out 36 inches from the edge of the deck. So the planters were built to come 6 inches above the height of the deck and they were 36 inches out fromt the deck.

I used Silca Systems grating that was attached to the PT joists which had bitumen tape on top of them. The inch thick travertine was bought in sets so it would make for a Versailles pattern and not have straight lines on the deck.

I had a stone wall at the edge of the wood deck and did not want wood to ground contact with the new deck. I had a 30" wide section of collar added concrete poured along this area and it flowed into the spaces of the rocks for a finished look. The deck was 1/4" higher than the surface of the new concrete so that the stone tiles could be laid on the slab and be at the same height as the tiles on the Silca grating. Fracture Guard by Mercrete was applied on the slab and then a day later the stone tiles were laid down using Flexbond crack prevention mortar.

All this enabled getting a flat deck with the ground level below it varying from 10 feet to less than a foot. A powerful laser level was used to set all the lines for the posts and beams and forms for the concrete. It was very expensive but I sold it after the project and recovered 80% of the purchase price.

Lighting is an afterthought by deck builders and architects but I wanted it integrated into the design and done properly. Usually small lights are mounted a couple feet apart on the risers of stairs or under the hand rails and they are not at all effective when going down stairs at night. Instead of this approach I installed 8-Watt LED wash lights into the sides of the planters and each light was able to illuminate completely an entire section of stairs. I used 7 wash lights instead of 51 step lights and go a far better result.

I purchased all the fasteners online and staged the product, with the exception of the stone tiles, at my house so it was all ready before the work began. From start to finish it took 2 months. It was worth it as now I use a pressure washer on the deck a couple times during the year and have eliminated 80% of the deck railing that I used to maintain and all the wood deck stairs are now very wide concrete steps.
 
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