How to Repair a Deck
Deck Repair Summerville SC is an important maintenance task for your home. Look for loose, splintered, or rotten boards and make repairs as soon as you notice them.
If you suspect a board is rotting, tap it to see if it feels soft and spongy to the touch. Purchase replacement wood as close to the original board in type and color as possible.
The wood of decks is constantly subjected to weathering and other environmental factors, which can cause discoloration over time. Usually, this isn’t an emergency, but it’s definitely unsightly and needs to be addressed. Some minor stains or spots may be easy to take care of, but a significant amount of fading or graying can mean it’s time for a fresh coat of stain.
A new deck stain is a simple, relatively inexpensive deck repair project that’s well within the scope of most homeowner DIYers. Before you get started, though, it’s a good idea to strip the old stain off using one of several varieties of deck strippers or bleaches, following the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. After you’ve stripped the deck, wash it thoroughly with a pressure washer or garden hose and allow it to dry completely.
It’s also important to choose a stain with UV protection, as sunlight can quickly fade and damage outdoor wood surfaces. Whether you’re going with a clear or transparent stain (which will still reveal the texture of the wood), be sure to test it on an inconspicuous spot before applying it to your entire deck.
If your deck is showing signs of structural damage, it’s best to have a professional look at it right away. If the deck is unstable, it could eventually collapse, causing injury or property damage. A professional can look at the ledger board (the long, pressure-treated board that attaches to your home) to see if it’s rotting or if there are signs of movement underfoot.
Another important issue to keep an eye out for is loose boards or cracks in the boards. If these are short and only on the surface of your deck, they’re probably just due to normal wear and tear and can be repaired by sanding them down and reattaching them with deck screws. If the cracks are deeper or extend into the joists of your deck, however, that’s a more serious problem and requires replacement boards.
If you notice loose or warped boards, a pro can straighten them out by drilling through different parts of the board and pulling it at different angles. In some cases, this can help shift the tension and prevent further damage.
Loose or cracked boards
Unless you bought the highest-grade lumber from a specialty mill, your deck boards probably have some defects that affect appearance and strength. Loose or cracked boards are a safety hazard, and you should inspect them regularly for deterioration. In some cases, these problems can be corrected by re-clamping or gluing the boards back in place. In other cases, you may need to replace the entire board.
A loose board that’s separating from the joist or support beam could be caused by water seepage or a structural defect in the joist. Inspect the joist for rot or a corroded joist hanger, which is a piece of hardware that attaches the joist to the deck’s beams. If the joist or support beam is loose, a deck repair professional should be called in to determine what the cause is and fix it before the situation worsens.
Loose or broken boards can also be a safety hazard, and they should be repaired quickly before they cause injury to anyone using the deck. A good solution is to remove the offending board and replace it with a new one that has been treated against weathering.
If you find a crack in a board, liberally inject flexible polyurethane caulk into the cracks to hold them together. Wood putty and other wood fillers will not work since they do not expand and contract as the wood does.
You should also check the condition of the fasteners that hold the deck boards in place. If the nails or screws are loose, you will need to re-clamp them. If they are rusty, you will need to replace them with galvanized or stainless steel screws.
Loose or cracked boards can result from damage to the wood during its growth, a process called “ring shake.” Ring shake appears as dark discoloration that runs along the board’s growth rings and weakens them. Discolored areas can also have an unpleasant vinegar or rancid odor that comes from the presence of parasitic bacteria. In some cases, removing the affected boards and treating them with an antifungal cleaner or stain can cure this problem.
Wood rot is the most serious of all deck problems. It destroys both the structural integrity of joists and beams as well as the appearance of your deck. It is also extremely difficult to repair, requiring extensive removal and the use of a fungicide that can protect against further moisture damage.
Wood decay is a side effect of microbes digesting the sturdy cellulose fibers that give wood its stiffness and rigidity. The result is a loss of structure and softness that can lead to rot and wood splintering. The good news is that you can often spot it early on by using a screwdriver test to check the wood’s hardness. If the tip of a screwdriver sinks in, it is likely rotten. You should also look for spongy areas of wood, which will need to be removed and treated immediately.
If the rot is in its early stages and has not yet spread to the end of the timber, Sleeping Dog Properties recommends that you simply remove the affected area of wood and treat it with a fungicide. However, once the fungus takes hold, it is essential to eliminate the source of moisture as quickly as possible. This includes locating the cause of moisture buildup and addressing it, such as roof leaks, damaged gutters or downspouts, plumbing leaks, or poor ventilation.
Dry rot has a white, cotton-like appearance that coats the surface of the affected timber. It is also characterized by a unique type of cracking known as cuboidal cracking, in which the timber breaks into small square-like portions as the fungus spreads through it. You may also notice the development of mushroom-like spores on the surface of the affected wood, which are produced as the fungus spreads to new areas.
In some cases, wet and dry rot can be repaired, but this is not recommended for beams, columns, or joists that support the structural integrity of your building. In these instances, it is usually more cost-effective and less stressful to replace the affected wood than to attempt to save it with a repair.
If your deck posts are damaged, it can be a sign of severe wood rot or foundation problems. Luckily, there are several ways to address this problem and keep your deck stable. For a temporary solution, you can use steel wedges. These are easy to install and can be driven between a leaning post and a concrete footing to straighten them out. Another good option is to use a metal strap, which can be screwed to the post and used to hold it in place while repairing the rotted footing. These can be purchased from any hardware store and are a much less expensive option than replacing the post itself.
To permanently fix a damaged deck post, you will need to remove the old concrete and set the new post in concrete. The first thing to do is excavate around the base of the post and assess the condition of the footing. If the footing is sound, remove enough of the existing concrete to expose a level area where you can form a repair spur.
Next, dig down a little further and remove the damaged concrete and any rotten wood from the post hole. You will want to make sure you have sufficient space in the post hole for a fresh batch of concrete. Then you can use a concrete saw to cut the new repair spur to fit into the hole. Once you have the spur in place, pour a new batch of concrete to replace the old. You will need to be sure that the new concrete has adequate strength before reopening the bridge to traffic.
Sometimes spalling occurs in the cast-in-place sections of the deck above precast concrete panels (PCPs). In such cases, the PCPs must be removed to expose a roughened surface for bonding with the new repair material. The concrete that remains on the PCPs may be too soft to support a full-depth repair. To minimize distress, the concrete should be ground down to a level with the top of the haunch of the girder. In most cases, this will require a partial-depth repair.