It’s a beautiful spring day in Massachusetts, and you’re getting your deck patio furniture and grill out of the shed for the first time since last fall. But while organizing your wood deck, you notice several cracked boards, protruding nails, and loose steps.
Now you’re worried that your aging deck isn’t safe anymore- plus it just looks bad. Wood rot, foot traffic, sunlight and wood-infesting bugs all take a toll on your deck’s planking, rails, steps, and posts. If you’d like to know for sure if your wood deck needs some repairs, look for these classic signs from the Seal-a-Deck team.
If you haven’t built a deck before, you may not be familiar with its various structural components. Here are all the parts of your deck that you’ll need to inspect for signs of damage:
• Decking (floor)
• Posts, ledger beams, and flooring joists
• Screws, bolts, nails, and fasteners
• Privacy walls, if applicable
Stand across the yard from your deck and look at it. Is it tilted in one direction or pulling away from your house? If so, you may have a serious structural problem and you’ll need to immediately call a decking company like Seal-a-Deck. If not, it’s time to move on and assess the condition of all the following deck components.
Slowly walk across your deck while feeling for any spongy or loose boards. Can you see protruding nails, screws or fasteners? Look for signs of moisture damage or “dry rot”, like curled edges, warping, soft boards, mold or mildew. Are any of the boards cracked, split or pulling away from the underlying frame? Dry rot will usually present as splintering boards, and if you have metal fasteners and screws, make sure they’re not badly rusted.
If your deck has a staircase or set of steps, check all the stair components for signs of loose connections, warping, large cracks and missing screws or fasteners, including the:
• Support posts
Most local building codes require the use of railings whenever a deck is over 30 inches off the ground. For both safety and aesthetic reasons, your railings need to be in good condition. First, check to ensure that each railing post is firmly attached to the deck’s frame and free of rot, insect infestations or large cracks. Those railing posts should be anchored with lag screws or carriage bolts, and the balusters securely fastened to the horizontal posts. It’s also a good idea to check for rough spots and splinters and to sand those down prior to re-staining.
Most above-ground decks have large horizontal beams that rest on top of the support posts, and those beams then hold up the floor joists and decking boards. As a result, the structural integrity of your entire deck depends upon the condition of those pieces of lumbar. Check the beams for large cracks and water damage, and make sure they are securely fastened to the posts. Look for signs of sagging, and, if present, you’ll need to add one or more supports.
All elevated decks are supported by 4” X 4” or 6” X 6” posts made from pressure-treated lumber. Check your posts to make sure they are firmly anchored below in the concrete footings, and to the deck frame above. Look for signs of aging like twisting, warping, bending or excessive splitting. Most types of wood-boring insects will start feeding from the bottom up, so try poking a screwdriver tip or car keys into the base of the post near the ground. If it sinks into the wood or the wood fibers are soft and spongy, the post could have insect or moisture damage.
Evaluating the condition of your wood deck can be confusing, and one mistake could lead to an unfortunate accident and serious injuries. Don’t take chances if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for. Instead, call the deck assessment and repair team at Seal-a-Deck. Since 2003, we’ve been providing homeowners in Massachusetts with expert deck check-ups, repairs, restoration, redecking services, and new deck constructions.
To schedule your deck check-up today, call the Seal-a-Deck pros at 978-538-7325, or visit: www.sealadeck.com now!