How to check if your deck needs repairs explained
Few things around your house take more abuse than your deck. Exposed to the harshest sun, driving rains, ice, and snow, a deck can only take so much before it needs some repair. You must learn How to check if your deck needs repairs to avoid becoming a victim to serious costly damage, give your deck an annual inspection and make repairs so small problems don’t become expensive or even dangerous big problems. In the spring when weather warms up and you have a couple of dry days is a good time to give your deck a once-over. This way it would generally be a minor construction or build project rather than finding yourself in need of professional construction work on the buildings. Look especially close at prime trouble spots: structural members that are close to the ground and any parts of the deck that are near downspouts.
Check the ledger, the framing material that attaches the deck to your house. The flashing should be in good shape with no holes or rust, and the ledger should be attached with lag screws, not nails. If the flashing looks worn out or the ledger is attached with nails, don’t hesitate to repair or replace as needed. Most accidents involving collapsed decks are caused by improper ledger installations. It’s a complex repair job — you might want to call in a pro.
Check for rot with an awl or screwdriver. Probe around posts where they contact the ground or sit on concrete foundation blocks. Any wood that’s soft is suspect. Check where stair stringers come in contact with the ground or landing pad. Probe around railing posts and the decking surface. You can remove thumb-size areas of rot with a chisel, then treat the hole with a wood preservative to stop rot and keep it from spreading. Bigger areas of rot may require the wood member be replaced.
Inspect joists and beams for rot and connecting hardware for rust. To replace hardware, put in a temporary support while you remove the old connection. If a piece of framing lumber can’t readily be removed and replaced, you can reinforce it. First, remove any rot and paint over the area with wood preservative. Then install a “sister” framing member of the same size and dimension alongside the existing one. The new framing member must be secured in the same way as its companion — with joist hangers or similar connecting hardware. Complete the install by fastening the new member to the old with stainless steel screws driven every 8 to 10 inches.
Check for cracks in decking boards. Cracks usually are more of an annoyance than a structural problem, but they tend to get worse over time. Fortunately, it’s easy to replace a decking board. However, the new board might stand out like a sore thumb — try staining it to match the rest of your decking before you install it. Finally inspect the railing system for loose posts and handrails. Fix the problem by drilling pilot holes and securing the members with galvanized or stainless steel screws.
Even though some lumber resists insects and decay, it's still vulnerable to moisture and the sun's rays. To preserve it without changing the color, use s clear wood preservative that contains a UV protector, which will bring new life to the surface while protecting it from the elements. If you want to add color, use an exterior stain first. Exterior stains come in both solid and semi-transparent finishes. Always use the semi-transparent for the decking area, but try a solid color if you want to highlight railings or banisters; it ends up looking like a painted finish. Exterior stains are available in oil or latex, and both provide fade and mildew resistance.
Just as with any precious item you own, whether it be a car, a motorcycle, or even your home, regular maintenance allows you to catch small problems and deal with them before they can grow to larger more costly issues that would require the touch of an actual professional and their grandiose professional costs. So keep your eye out, and don't forget the annual inspection. Also try reading online to learn more about what you can do to maintain a great looking deck so as to enjoy your summer get togethers in a great looking spot.
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