Dreaming of a DIY deck

I need a new deck. My skinny 13-year-old niece stepped on a border railing last summer and it broke off. My adult friends are clearly in danger on that deck.  

I want to spend my entire deck budget on design and craftsmen, with a negligible amount spent on materials. I want to make the whole shebang from scrap: metal, concrete, and brick. I am super-duper-extra-special tired of staining and repainting a wood deck, and I know that there are plenty of materials out there just waiting to be repurposed. 

I have been collecting random metal pieces for some time, but I’m having difficulty getting enough big pieces to make a dent in this project. The floor of the deck needs flat pieces of metal. So no car doors as deck floor. I might use an entire car, though, or the shell of a car. I could have some custom metal benches made to wrap over the empty car seats and extend outside the car. That would be cool. And I could use the inside of the trunk or hood for storage. What if I had a seal on the trunk so I could store cushions, and a liner under the hood so I could put ice and beverages in there? I like my décor to be useful! My fallback plan for the floor of the deck is perforated metal sheeting. You won’t be able to wear heels on the deck, but that’s not such a big deal, is it?

I want the deck to actually look like a junkyard when not in use. I would like the casual observer to first think it’s a junk heap, only to realize that each piece of junk serves a vital deck-type purpose. For example, one of my friends wanted to get rid of this awesome oil tank:


It is now sitting behind my garage. You might think this is an eyesore, but I find this baby lovely. If I stand it on an end, I could cut the tank in half and have it open up to be big barrel type chairs. Or I could cut it from the top (as shown in the picture, cutting lengthwise) and have it open to benches or sun chaises. Either way, I plan to make sure it closes with a seal so I can store cushions in it during the winter months. I have a serious lack of storage in my house/garage. In the winter it will look like I keep an oil tank on my deck (which is true); in the summer it will be for lounging. Perfection. And I got the tank for free. 

Here is a saw blade that I paid dearly for:


In my mind, this is already a table. Not a low table, but a high table. (I will put a bumper on it so nobody gets a table-related injury.) I plan to put some kind of made-up skeleton umbrella over it using the hole in the middle and scrap metal. Then I can leave the skeleton bare or throw vintage tablecloths over it for my friends who need shade. 

Can you imagine how this will look in winter? A saw blade with an impressionistic skeleton of an umbrella over it will be part of my December view. It will be awesome. 

But I need more stuff! I need to get to work. And, off to the salvage yard. 

Portlander Nancy Ranchel is a self-described accountant, design fan, serial re-modeler, compulsive re-user, and blog writer.