A wooden deck is a great complement to any home. Not only does it add an aesthetic appeal to your exterior, but it also increases your property value.
However, to ensure that your deck maintains its beauty and stays functional, you need to inspect it regularly for even the smallest of issues. By keeping your deck in tip-top shape through small, regular repairs, you’ll increase its lifespan and prevent the need for big, costly restorations or even total replacement.
Furthermore, an unmaintained deck can be a serious safety hazard. Deck failures have led to so many injuries and fatalities that each year, the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) hosts a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of regular safety checks.
In this article, we’ll discuss a few common deck issues you should look out for, along with some useful tips on how to repair them. Let’s get going.
Split or Cracked Boards
Because decks are exposed to natural elements all the time, you may encounter splits and cracks at some point.
However, there is a possibility that the bottom side of cracked boards could still be in good shape. If that’s the case, you can restore your deck’s smooth finish by unscrewing the affected boards and turning them upside down.
If that doesn’t help, you can also try the steps below:
Step 1: Remove the affected board from your deck.
Step 2: Inject any splits or cracks with waterproof resin glue.
Step 3: Clamp the board tightly until all splits and cracks are entirely closed.
Step 4: Leave the board clamped overnight to ensure that the glue sets properly.
Step 5: Remove the clamps and place the board back in its original position.
If all else fails, you can simply replace the affected boards.
The fasteners that are used to hold your deck up won’t last forever. Given the fact that they are constantly exposed to weather conditions such as rain, they will eventually corrode.
The pressure of furniture and foot traffic may also cause some fasteners to loosen over time.
Though these parts of your deck are relatively invisible to the naked eye, they could cause the entire structure to collapse. This is why it’s important to regularly check that all the screws, anchors, and nails of your deck are still tight and in good condition.
If you do find the odd loose screw, simply fasten it tightly and move on. However, if you find any fasteners that show signs of corrosion, you should replace them immediately.
Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew buildup is a regular occurrence on wood surfaces, especially if you live in a humid area.
Leaves and other debris also contribute to the development of mold and mildew. That’s why it’s important to give your deck a good cleaning on a regular basis. However, this may still not be enough to prevent the growth of fungi on your deck.
Luckily you can easily clean spots of mold or mildew with regular household products. Simply follow the basic guide below:
Step 1: Mix ⅓ cup of laundry detergent and 1 gallon of water in a bucket. If you’re out of laundry detergent, you can also create an anti-mildew solution by mixing one part vinegar to one part water.
Step 2: Dip a brush with stiff bristles into the cleaning solution and thoroughly scrub the affected area.
Step 3: Rinse the deck down with clean water.
Rotted Deck Posts
You should never play around with rotted deck posts. These pieces of wood probably have the most important job of all, which is supporting the entire weight of your deck.
Because they are closer to the ground, they tend to absorb more water than other areas of your deck. This means that they are more susceptible to rot and decay. If you notice that they are compromised, don’t think twice—replace them. You can follow the guide below to install new posts.
Step 1: Place a cinder block next to the post that you are looking to replace. Be sure to center the block under the beam.
Step 2: Position a hydraulic jack on top of the cinder block, and measure the distance between the piston of the jack and the underside of the beam. Deduct 12 inches from the measured length to ensure that you’ll have enough working space.
Step 3: Cut a piece of 2×4 to length and center it on the piston of the jack.
Step 4: Raise the jack until the top of the 2×4 meets the beam with just enough pressure to serve as a temporary brace.
Step 5: Remove the affected support post by loosening and removing all fasteners and then using a framing hammer to drive the top to one side.
Step 6: Cut a replacement post with the same measurements as the previous one.
Step 7: Place one end of the new post into the bottom connector, and drive the other end into place with a framing hammer. Ensure that the holes for each fastener align with the center of the post.
Step 8: Once your replacement post is secure, lower the jack and remove the temporary brace.
Step 9: Use the existing holes in the lower and upper connecters as guides to drill ½-inch holes into the post.
Step 10: Install the fasteners at each of the connecters to ensure that your new post stays in place. If the fasteners you removed earlier are still in good shape and show no signs of corrosion, you can re-use them. However, this is a great opportunity to replace those as well.
Important: Replacing your own deck posts can pose a risk to your safety. If you don’t have the necessary knowledge or experience, enlist the help of a professional.
Whether you’re a tenant or a homeowner, you should ensure that your deck is inspected regularly for issues that may turn into bigger problems. Wooden decks require regular upkeep to ensure optimum performance and safety.
If you need to replace your deck—or don’t have one and want to add one to your home—you’ll need to start by deciding on the material. You can choose between redwood or cedar decking, exotic wood, or composite decking. Contact Rocky Mountain Forest Products for help in choosing the best materials.