Is your mailbox filling with home improvement store ads and magazines filled with images of beautiful people on gorgeous decks smiling and laughing over perfect glasses of iced tea? These pictures invoke feelings of friendship, fun, and perhaps, frustration. Does your own deck leave something to be desired? Perhaps those once smooth boards have become cracked and splintery. Maybe the last time you stained your deck just didn’t quite have the results you have achieved in the past. It could be worse than an aesthetic concern: are you beginning to wonder if your deck is even safe anymore? Read on for some tips on deciding whether it’s time to call in a professional deck builder to help you assess the condition of your deck, and if necessary, how to remedy the problems you’re experiencing.
Where to Get Started:
In order to intelligently consider the condition of your deck, you should first know some basic deck construction terminology. Vertical posts connect your deck to the ground. Posts are generally secured in the ground with concrete footers that hold the structure securely in place. The number of posts is dependent upon the size and shape of the deck. Beams run horizontally to the posts and establish the shape of the deck. Joists run perpendicular to the beams and provide the foundation for the deck boards. Decking is the actual wood underneath your feet as your walk on your deck’s surface. Finally, railings and balusters surround the deck and provide safety from falls if the height of the structure is hazardous. All of these pieces provide critical support to your outdoor space, and to determine whether your deck needs to be replaced or repaired, each one will need to be inspected.
Color and Finish
If made of real wood, the appearance of your deck’s surface will change over time. Weather elements can cause the wood that was once blonde or otherwise stained to become gray. In addition, mold or mildew may grow on areas that become wet but do not dry quickly because they are in the shade. While not necessarily visually desireable, this kind of color change is not a safety concern. It can be remedied, however, with proper cleaning and restaining. Wood decking that is becoming cracked and splintery is cause for concern as it can cause injuries. It’s possible that sanding the surface could resolve these problems depending upon the extent of the damage. A decking expert can help you evaluate these issues if you are unsure.
Because the deck posts are submerged underground, they do become wet when it rains or snows. Similarly, beams are closer to the ground than the actual decking and are also at an increased risk of water damage. These elements should be made of a pretreated material and be resistant to rot and decay. However, nothing lasts forever. Over time, any part of your deck constructed from wood can begin to break down as a result of water damage from rain and snow. Additionally, once wet wood begins to rot, it becomes more susceptible to termites. The tunnels that termites create as they eat through your deck create channels into which water will seep. This seepage speeds up the rotting process. The result of rot damage to posts and beams is a sagging deck. This sagging may not be discernible at first, but eventually, you will notice a low point in your deck. This is a sure sign that there is underlying structural damage that should be inspected by a professional as soon as possible.
Not surprisingly, of all the components of your deck, the decking itself is most exposed to the elements. Rain, snow, and the hot summer sun beat down on your deck surface if it is not covered by a roof of some kind. These factors can and will degrade the structure over time. Refinishing the surface certainly helps, but again, nothing lasts forever. Damage to the integrity of the decking will be revealed by soft or spongy areas on the surface. If you notice this kind of surface, contact a deck professional. While it is unlikely the deck will completely give way immediately, there is risk of the deck collapsing at some point. This is obviously extremely dangerous and an issue that should not be ignored.
Deck railings are comprised of cap rails, the top most piece of the railing, and balusters, the vertical pieces that connect the top rail to the deck itself. If you have a raised deck, all of these components are critical to the safety of yourself, your family, and your guests. A railing that is loose or wobbly or even just one missing baluster compromises the safety of your home. Children and pets are especially at risk in these conditions. Railings and balusters can often be repaired or, if necessary, replaced, without having to rebuild your entire deck.
None of us is ever lacking for places to spend our hard earned income, and deck repair or replacement can seem like an unnecessary expenditure. That said, remember that you are responsible for the safety of those in your home, and an unsound deck is a significant hazard. Be assured that a strong, beautiful deck adds to the value of your home. According to a 2017 cost vs. value report produced by Remodeling magazine, a deck addition recoups 71.5% of investment upon the sale of your home. A bathroom addition, by contrast, recoups just 57.1%. It is clear, therefore, that keeping your deck in top condition significantly contributes to the overall value of your home.
How Deck Creations Can Help
Give your outdoor space a thorough inspection. Not loving what you see or feel? Don’t ignore it. Reach out to a professional deck builder who can help you assess your needs and make a plan for how to achieve your goals. Once that is done, go ahead and pour yourself a perfect glass of iced tea.