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I spent the day taking apart the platform for a yurt. It was a real pain, and I want to make it easier to take apart next time.

Old deck construction details:

Decking was 1 1/8" tongue-and-groove plywood, fastened with 3" Robertson (square-drive) screws. The deck was painted after installation, so some paint was in the screw heads. A regular cordless drill wasn't strong enough to turn these screws, but an combination drill / impact-driver was able to do it. However, maybe 1 in 10 screws had their drive heads stripped instead. Too much friction / too much torque. We used a Sawzall to cut those screws out. Went through 4 Sawzall blades.

Framing was 4" x 6" joists on 4" x 4" posts on concrete piers. Most lumber was pressure-treated, but about 1/3 of the joists were not. Beam-to-post caps were nailed in to the joists and posts, 3 nails on each side. We spent a lot of time hammering a Cat's Paw under the nail heads, and then prying them out.

Insulation was 4' x 8' sheets of 2"-thick foil-faced foam board, between the joists, secured with 1/2" x 1" lath strips, which were fastened with 2" screws. To be able to get the Sawzall in to place, we crawled around in the dirt under the yurt to remove the foam. These screws were also hard to remove, and sometimes we had to break the lath instead.

We're going to put the yurt up at a new location. I'm guessing it'll be there about 5 years, and then it'll be time to move it again. So I want to think about how to build it in a way to make it easier to disassemble when the time comes.

Some ideas

  • Fasten the floor with 2"-long scews, for easier turning.

  • Prime & paint the floor panels before installation. Maybe 1 more coat after installation.

  • Pilot the floor screw holes.

  • Duplex (double-headed) nails for the beam-to-post caps. Maybe screws instead?

  • Tiny finish nails for the lath that holds up the inuslation. Easy to rip out. 2" screws was overkill.

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My first thought would be to build the deck in individual 4x8 sections. So you build a frame out of 2x4's or 2x6's with one sheet of plywood on top and the insulation pre-installed between the framing members.

You would then set up your concrete piers and beams that would support the sections. If you use 2x4 framing for the pre-built sections, you would need more beams and piers, but the individual sections would also be lighter and more easily man-portable. Place the pre-built sections on top of the joists and screw them together from underneath.

When you disassemble, you just unscrew the pre-built sections from each other and the joists, take them out in one piece, and stack them on a trailer. Being 4x8, they are the perfect size to fit in just about any trailer or pickup truck and not too heavy for one or two guys to handle. Once those are removed, you can disassemble the beams and piers.

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What an interesting idea. I'll ponder it more. Have you ever seen this done for real? – Jay Bazuzi Dec 17 '10 at 23:57
I like your idea Eric. Also if you use hex head timber ties or small lag bolts, you can avoid stripping heads of phillips etc. I also use a air wrench to drive and remove them, but a good electric drill can work too. – shirlock homes Dec 18 '10 at 17:00
@Jay - no, never seen it done for real. I think this is a pretty unique use case though. Not often someone would have a reason to build a "portable deck". – Eric Petroelje Dec 20 '10 at 21:31

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