The floating locust patio
The floating locust patio

Ann wanted a small patio at the bottom of the rear steps at her home.She had ruled out brick or stone and wanted wood. I designed a 8′ x12′ “floating” deck that would sit directly on the ground, with pressure-treated joists that would be only a couple of inches at the stairs but bigger at the other end to compensate for the slope of the yard.

Pressure treated yellow pine would not have been a desirable deck surface– it tends to warp, especially if one side is near the ground and the face is exposed to sunlight. Ann did not want to use ipe or other exotic hardwoods extracted from tropical rain forests,and had heard about yellow locust. I had used locust for fence posts and it seemed to never rot. I picked up some freshly cut locust boards and ran them through my planer, still green and wet, and screwed them to the treated frame, using bar clamps to take out curves. When dry, locust is so hard that it is difficult to work with; my hope was that the boards would stay straight if secured to the frame, and it was an experiment that proved successful.

Ann allowed the deck to dry a couple weeks and then treated it with a hardwood deck oil to minimize sun damage and stabilize moisture content. The beautiful yellow color lasted for over a year, and eventually the deck turned a nice silver gray. The boards have stayed straight and the “floating deck” looks great!

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