I believe the construction phase of the porch steps project is done. I just finished painting a coat of primer over the whole thing. I have to admit, the (almost) completed project looks... pretty shoddy.
Actually, once it's painted it will look as good or somewhat better than it did before I started the project; better, but not great. More important than appearance, the structure is now quite sound, with no sagging planks and no termite-riddled rotten joists.
One reason the project doesn't look "perfect," of course, is that I'm not what you'd call a journeyman carpenter. I can do basic carpentry stuff if I need to, the same way I can change the transmission in a 1961 Cadillac if I need to (and yes, I've needed to on occasion), but I don't have the necessary skills or the tools to address these tasks with alacrity or finesse.
An additional explanation for the less than stellar aesthetics is my attempt to re-use as much of the old structure as I could. Mixing old and new pieces, when the old pieces are badly weathered and heavily painted, is a challenge, to say the least, and significantly increases the time necessary to complete the task. Removing old nails, scraping paint, and fitting new pieces in with pieces which have warped and weathered for forty years is a time-intensive process. Rebuilding the entire structure with all new materials would, I think, have produced a better looking result in less time. The trade-off would have been at considerably higher cost. As it is, the cost was not insubstantial. Ten dollars, four dollars, nineteen dollars, it all adds up. Quickly.
Other than painting, then, the porch is done. I shouldn't say "other than painting" lightly, as I know already, after applying a simple single coat of primer, that the process will be extremely tedious.
I don't feel particularly happy with the end result, if only because it doesn't look "new." But it is in keeping with the rest of the house, so perhaps that's better. This was a "restoration" rather than a "replacement" project. If the final result is sturdy and "looks like it belongs," then I guess it was a success.
The front lanai (deck) has a few sagging boards that should be replaced, and the whole thing is starting to show its age. For that project, however, I may wait until I can afford to replace the entire thing with all new materials. Yes, it would save money to re-use as much of the old one as I can. But aesthetically, when I'm sitting on the lanai, I want it to be nice.
Perhaps I can sleep without nightmares tonight.
By the way: the roiling surf actually brought in a bit of sand last night, building up rather than eroding the beach.