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A deck can be a wonderful place for entertaining or relaxing with family and friends. but it can show signs of wear and tear over time.
Small cracks in wood boards look unattractive and may splinter. But they also leave the wood vulnerable to rot. But worry no more, because J&R Construction is here to serve you.
A rotting ledger board can be a serious safety risk. If it’s not attached correctly, it could collapse or fall on people using the deck.
A deck is typically built on wood, which means it can suffer from rot and other damage from water and insects. Performing regular inspections and taking action as needed can help prevent serious problems and keep your deck safe for people to use. Start your inspection by examining the deck for signs of damage and rot, including nail pops, loose boards, and areas of the board that are starting to split or curl. If you see any of these issues, they should be repaired promptly to avoid further problems.
You should also inspect the structural supports underneath your deck. This includes the wood framing boards, beams, and joists that create the framework for the deck surface and occupants. Using a level, check that the deck is not leaning or shifting. If it is, this could indicate that the deck’s footings or foundation are damaged or improperly installed.
Next, examine the joists for signs of rot or decay. If you notice any, it’s important to repair them as soon as possible to avoid further damage and safety hazards.
Look for loose joists and nail heads sticking out of the wood, which can be dangerous to anyone walking on the deck. If you notice that a nail or screw is sticking out of the side of a joist, use a hammer to carefully pound it back in place. You should also ensure that joist hangers are securely attached to the joists and are not rusty or showing signs of deterioration.
Check the ledger board, which connects the deck to your house. This is one of the most common places where a deck fails, so it’s crucial to check for damage and make sure the connections are secure. Look for a gap between the ledger board and your home’s siding and for rust or corrosion on bolts that attach the ledger to the home. Inspect the flashing, too, which is a steel sheet installed over vital connections like this to protect them from moisture damage.
Look for any insect infestations as well, including termite and carpenter ant damage, woodpecker holes in the boards, and worm holes in the sides of the boards. You can also test for rot by pressing the tip of an awl into the wood and seeing how far you can push it without breaking off. If the tip easily slides in more than 1/4 inch, the wood is likely rotting and needs to be repaired or replaced.
Check the stairs.
The stairs of a deck receive a lot of foot traffic and can be subject to damage from moisture, wear, and age. Cracking stairs are not only unsightly but can also be dangerous if they pose a fall risk for people walking up and down them. Stairs can be repaired by regluing them together or replacing them entirely. If your stairs are made of stone, it is advisable to have them examined by a surveyor to check for structural movement that could lead to their failure.
Wooden staircases can also be damaged by water or wear and tear. If you notice any signs of water damage on your stairs, it is important to act quickly to prevent the problem from spreading and weakening the structure of the stairwell. If left unchecked, wooden stairs can become warped and unsightly. Using a hammer and pry bar, carefully remove any planks that are damaged or loose from the joists. Replace them with new planks that are the same type and size as your originals.
Stairs that are cracked or uneven can be unsafe for people to walk on, especially if they are made of wood. Splinters can also be a danger for anyone who uses the stairs. If you notice any splinters, it is a good idea to have the stairs replaced as soon as possible.
Handrails are an essential part of your staircase and help provide support for people walking up and down them. If your handrails are loosened or have fallen off the railing, it is a safety hazard for you and your family and should be fixed immediately. You can reattach handrails to the railing posts with screws, but if you need to re-screw the railing, make sure that you use galvanized nails and screws.
Once the repairs on your staircase are complete, you may want to give the entire deck a facelift with a fresh coat of stain. When selecting a stain, look for a product that has UV inhibitors and algaecide included in the formula. These ingredients will protect the deck stain from fading and algae growth.
Inspect the railings.
Most decks feature railings for safety and security. Wood railings can suffer from the same weather damage as deck boards and joists, so homeowners need to inspect them for looseness or rot. Metal or composite railings are less likely to rust or become unstable, but homeowners should still examine them for damage and tightness. Check that the fasteners and screws are secure and that protruding nails or bolts have been removed. Loose or unsteady railings are unsafe, especially if the deck is elevated or two stories high.
Some deck repairs require heavy equipment rentals and advanced carpentry skills, which can drive up costs. If your deck needs extensive repair, consider hiring a professional to do the work so that you don’t risk further damage to your home and yourself.
Decks can cost an arm and a leg to repair, but many of the most expensive issues are preventable with routine inspections. For example, mold and mildew growth is often the result of infrequent cleaning. Keeping your deck clean and staining it regularly will help prevent this issue. However, if the mildew has already grown into the deck boards or steps, it may be necessary to remove and replace them entirely.
A professional will also be able to tell you whether your deck needs repairs based on the structure of the wood and whether it is rotting or warped. They can help you decide between sanding and staining or replacing the entire board.
Home inspectors are trained to recognize the signs of a sound deck, and they can give you confidence that your new or existing deck is safe for entertaining and relaxing. Routine deck maintenance and routine inspections can make your outdoor living space a more enjoyable place for parties, family dinners, and Sunday morning coffee. With a little care and attention, your deck can last decades and provide many memories to come. Just be sure to read your inspection report carefully and always take into account the costs of rental equipment, staining materials, and labor in your budgeting process.
Clean the deck.
A deck is a wonderful place to relax, but it can become dangerous with loose planks that can injure bare feet or hands. Before you begin any repairs, make sure the deck surface is safe to walk on by examining it for signs of damage and splintering.
Wooden decks should be re-stained and sealed on a regular basis to protect the wood from the sun, wind, rain, snow, and other elements. Start with a mildew- or mold-resistant product for the best results. A power washer is a quick way to remove dirt, grime, and dead wood fibers from the surface of your deck. However, be cautious not to use so much pressure that you cause damage to the deck or underlying wood. Start with the wand 12 inches away from your deck and slowly move it closer to test the water pressure. If you notice that your wood is cracking or tearing, you are applying too much pressure and should increase the distance between the wand and the deck.
Before you begin any other treatments, including staining or painting, allow the deck to dry thoroughly. This can take several hours, depending on the weather, temperature, and humidity. If you cover the deck area with tarps to protect plants or furniture, be sure to rinse the tarps and deck surface thoroughly with a garden hose to prevent any leftover cleaning solution from damaging these items.
Vinegar is acidic and can seep into wood, causing it to soften and lose its strength. Therefore, if you see that your deck boards are warping or splintering, it is likely that the joists and beams are rotting, which could compromise the stability of the entire structure.
Organic growths like moss and lichen can also create unsafe, slippery spots on the deck surface. These stains are usually caused by a combination of fungi and algae, and they can be difficult to remove without harming the surrounding wood. An oxygen bleach solution may be effective in removing these stains, but it is important to follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.