Do you need to repair or replace your deck?
Does your gut tell you that your deck might need some work? How do you really know if you need a full replacement or just some repairs? As soon as the sunny weather hits you can be sure that your family and friends are going to want to hang out in your outdoor space. So how can you be sure your deck is ‘up’ for the summer? We’ve put together some basic tips to determine if your deck is safe for the coming season.
Footings, Posts and Joists
Have your footing warped due to the seasonal changes? The footings may be too shallow which means you will have to make new ones. This doesn’t mean you have to replace your deck! You can always add new footings beside the old ones. This will allow you to add new support to the structure and then remove the old footings without having to tear anything down beforehand. This can save time and money if the rest of the deck is in good shape.
If the posts are close to the ground and not held above grade with a bracket, you’ll want to check the wood condition here to ensure the moisture has not created any type of rotting.
Was the deck built with pressure treated wood? Pressure treatment is a preservative and can last about 20 years. Check for the usual green hue to determine if the wood was pressure treated. It could also be cedar or redwood so if you aren’t sure, you can always cut off a small end-piece to check for the green treatment. Pressure treated wood tends to last longer than its counterparts even though the cedar and redwood are naturally resistant to rot and insects.
To check if it’s starting to rot, you can always poke it with a screwdriver. If the screwdriver enters the wood easily as it’s soft – you’ll have to replace those deck boards.
Check the Ledger
Check the material that attaches the deck to your house, the ledger. Collapsing decks are most often due to improper ledger installations. There should not be roofing nails, but instead galvanized joist hanger nails.
As you perform your inspection, check that the flashing covers the ledger that attaches to the house. If the flashing is worn out you may need to call in an expert to repair. Since the ledger is the backbone to the structure, any heavy damage, deterioration or rotting probably means you’ll need to replace your deck.
For a checklist to check your ledger board click here.
Railings are a safety feature that can easily be overlooked unless you find yourself leaning against them. Loose posts or rotting wood at the joints are most frequently the issue. Because wood railings are typically attached with nails you can try to re-secure them with new, however it’s a short term solution. Carriage bolts with washers and nuts are a stronger alternative that won’t damage the wood, and will keep everyone on your deck safe.
New decking rails and stairs can make an old deck new again if it’s still structurally sound. If you’re just looking for a face-lift this can easily be accomplished. There are a variety of decking materials that offer lasting quality again the sun and the elements. Composite decking is a popular alternative to pressure treated lumber as it doesn’t require much maintenance – other than a soap and water washing.
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If you’re thinking about a new deck give your contractor a call. A trained eye can pick things out that you might otherwise miss. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer make a habit of checking your deck every spring to ensure that your not putting your friends and family at risk. If you’re not, most companies will offer a free quote for any seasonal repairs or replacements.