Decks are built to last but they are not built to last forever and do require maintenance along the way. How do you tell when your deck has enjoyed its last spring or summer?
Localized Damage vs Widespread Damage
Most localized damage can typically be repaired and doesn’t undermine the safety of the entire deck. For example, if you have a planter on your wooden deck moisture will be trapped in the soil and create rot under that specific area.
Widespread damage or rot would be considered damage to the footings, supporting beams, or joists. Most pressure treated has a lifetime of over 50 years! But if you used something other then pressure treated and have a deck at that age well it's probably time to replace the entire frame. Especially with the new decking products lasting over 25 years.
Sagging or Leaning Deck
Sagging and leaning are both signs of serious structural damage. Your deck should be parallel with the ground without any deviations or dips in it and should be square and plumb.
Decks may sag for many reasons, from improper installation to termite damage and rot. It is important to assess why you are seeing that sag. Are the joists spaced correctly? Are the deck boards rotted? Are you footings spaced correctly? Were the beams the correct size to carry a particular span.
Loose & Shaky Parts
Loose and shaky areas of a deck are major problem areas. If you have a railing section that is loose or installed incorrectly it could result in serious injury. You want to make sure all of your posts for your railings an footings are in good shape and secured, blocked, and bolted correctly.
If your wooden deck hasn’t been properly maintained, it can develop a dry rot problem. It’s a fungal condition that can quickly consume your entire deck, making the boards weak and brittle. Some wood species are more prone to dry rot than others. Cedar decking, for example, is known to have dry rot issues. Dry rot is especially common and dangerous on support posts where wood meets the ground. Rotten support posts may collapse unexpectedly.
No matter how many protective stains and coatings you apply, the wind, rain, sun, snow, temperature and pressure will eventually take a toll on your deck. In serious cases, the decking will start to split, warp, crack and lose its original color. If a large portion of your deck looks like it didn’t weather well, it may be the time to think about a replacement.
In some cases when the damage is not widespread, a simple deck repair may return your deck to the safe condition. However, keep in mind that many repairs are merely putting off the inevitable.
Need help in deciding if your deck needs to be repaired or replaced?
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