Seaside Situations: How Saltwater Greatly Impacts Your Decking

If you’re fortunate enough to live by the ocean or sea, odds are you want to enjoy its sights, sounds, and smells as often as you can. One of the best ways to do this is by hiring outdoor deck contractors to construct a sturdy deck that overlooks the water. However, there’s a catch—namely, the negative effects saltwater may have on the appearance and integrity of your wooden deck. Even if your deck isn’t built all that close to the water, the seaside wind can still send moisture and salt toward your deck. That said, should the threat of saltwater prevent you from having a deck built by the sea? To help you navigate this dilemma, let’s go over how saltwater may impact your decking and what you can do about it.

Why Saltwater Stands to Harm Your Decking

All outdoor decks face environmental pressures, such as wind, rain, hail, harsh sunlight, pests, etc. Saltwater is just another one of these threats, though it is limited to coastal areas. So, saltwater is not inherently more of an issue than any other environmental factor, but it can play a role in your deck’s gradual deterioration and need for deck repair over time. Here’s how:

As ultraviolet radiation from the sun dries out the wood, small fractures may begin to form. These cracks serve as openings for various materials, such as fungi, bacteria, pests, and, of course, saltwater. Generally speaking, any type of moisture poses a threat to wood decking, as it can warp the wood, amplify cracks, and provide nourishment for mold and rot. But the salt portion of saltwater can be problematic as well. As the saltwater inside the wood evaporates, the salt crystallizes inside the timber and slowly forces fibers apart. And aesthetically speaking, an abundance of dried salt can stain the wood, diminishing its appearance.

There’s more to the story of saltwater, though.

The Plus Side of Salt

As it turns out, saltwater can act as a sort of deck defense mechanism from other environmental hazards, namely fungal growth. While fungi tend to thrive in damp conditions, most forms of fungi cannot live near salt. This means that while living near saltwater may present its own set of problems for your deck, mold, mildew, and other fungal foes most likely won’t be included. That’s not to say you should ignore standard wood deck maintenance, of course. You must still protect your deck from the threats that are most likely to lead to deterioration.

How to Mitigate the Negative Effects of Saltwater

Ultimately, if your deck is by the sea, you should take specific precautions to stop saltwater from damaging your deck. The first step in this effort is to choose the right material for your decking in the first place. Wood composite decking, for instance, is built to withstand various environmental threats, including saltwater. Moisture has a difficult time entering composite decking, and salt stains can be easily cleaned and removed via proper scrubbing or power washing. Next, it’s important to invest in routine deck sealing (typically every 2-3 years, perhaps more if you’re right by the sea) to keep the negative forces of UV radiation, moisture, and other threats at bay. And finally, performing regular deck inspections, maintenance, and repairs is crucial to keeping your wooden deck safe, secure, and beautiful.

There’s nothing quite like enjoying some quality time on a seaside deck. Don’t let saltwater get in the way of your good time. The experts at SEAL-A-DECK can make sure your deck is well-suited to withstand any and all nearby natural pressures and threats facing your decking. To learn more about us or to schedule a deck check-up today, give us a call at 978-538-7325.

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