Do you have a lovely family deck that’s getting old but is too precious to destroy? Every deck is subject to deck repair at some point, whether surface or structural. If you inspect your deck every few years, you can check for issues that can be resolved with less time and money. While some repairs can be handled by the head of the household, advanced repairs can be more tricky and dangerous as the whole structure may collapse, without the right tools and expertise.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR?
You can inspect the key parts of your deck including the posts, joists, ledger boards and railing. Check for lag screws in the ledger, missing nails in the joist hangers, missing ledger flashing, wobbling deck, rotting posts, weak post connections and loose railings. Inspect the deck framework below the surface boards. If the posts, joists, and footings still hold up but the surface boards are cracked or splintered, you can save money by replacing just the surface deck boards and railings. If you’re not sure, call a local deck contractor and ask for an inspection. Deck experts are familiar with all types of deck materials and can advise you on how to maintain or repair your deck if necessary.
The deck frame is still in good shape. You may only need new deck boards and railings to replace worn-out ones and make your structure as sturdy as before. Combining new and old boards can create a patchwork effect, but this will diminish in about 2-3 years as the new wood fades and matches the old. Remember that regular inspection can save you the trouble of having to replace an entire deck in the future. Also, be cautious about the age of your deck. Rotten railings can break without warning. This poses a safety risk as children can climb on deck railings and adults lean on them.
Your problem is structural. If the underlying deck frame has already rotten, due to drainage, plumbing or mite problems, you should have this fixed before rebuilding or you will have the same problems with your new deck. In any case, a regular inspection will save you time and money in the long-term. Also, if you wish to update your deck, you can request to add steps, new beams/footings or an extension.
HOW ABOUT MATERIALS?
Two of the most popular materials for decks are mahogany and cedar. The latter is chemical free but is more prone to decay. However, with sealants and stains applied every year or two, these types of wood hold up well for the long-term.
A low maintenance option is plastic composite. Made from a combination of recycled wood and reclaimed plastic, it has the aesthetics of wood but can have a longer lifespan as it doesn’t rot and is unaffected by termites and other wood pests. They also don’t have to be stained and treated on a regular basis, unlike wood. Composite decks can be hot to walk on barefoot, so you may want to stick with lighter colors for this one.
The least expensive option is pressure-treated lumber. This type of material is ideal for deck framing. If treated with chemicals that resist rot and termites, it can show a slight green hue.