Why You Should Leave Deck Repair to the Pros
Deck repairs are a normal occurrence after the winter season and can be done to prolong the life of your deck and keep you and your family safe. Inspect your deck for popped nails, loose railings, and wood rot regularly.
If you notice a soft or spongy feel to your deck, it may indicate joist rot. This is a safety issue that needs to be addressed right away. To learn more, check out this website at https://deckbuilderscharleston.com/.
Ledger and Joists
Deck collapses can be devastating. Luckily, a few simple precautions can help prevent them.
The key to a safe deck starts with the ledger. This board, which connects the deck to the house frame, should be positively connected to the floor structure of the primary building with bolts or lag screws. Lags and bolts are better than nails, which are not designed for this purpose. But even the best lags and bolts won’t hold if attached to a rotten ledger or band joist. Data collected from deck failures suggests that one of the leading causes of these kinds of problems is nail-only connections between the ledger and the main deck framing.
To prevent a ledger or band joist from becoming rotted, a high-quality butyl-based flashing is essential. A flashing, such as Trex RainEscape wall flashing, helps keep moisture out of the area, preserving the wood.
A flashing also prevents water and ice from freezing under the deck and damaging it. Installing it correctly is important for both the safety of your deck and the life of your home.
If your house has clapboard or other wood siding, it will need to be removed to make room for the flashing. When the siding is replaced, cut away the old flashing to create a flat surface over the joists. Then, slide the new flashing behind the siding to cover the gap. The lip of the flashing should rest over the top edge of the ledger.
After the flashing is in place, you can reinstall the house siding and reattach the deck boards to the ledger. Use a ladder to access the upper part of the deck, and work carefully to protect the structure from falling debris.
When attaching the deck to the house, it’s a good idea to use LedgerLOK screws, which are designed for this kind of connection. These fasteners have a special head that doesn’t require pre-drilling and placement of a washer; you simply align the screw with its location on the ledger, then drive it into place. They also hold firmer and shear more force than standard lag screws.
Wood decks and railings require regular attention. When the deck railing is loose or unstable, it’s a good idea to get this fixed as soon as possible to prevent injury and potential structural problems. This may involve replacing damaged sections of the railing or, in serious cases, removing and replacing entire boards. Unless you’re a carpenter with advanced skills, this type of repair is probably best left to professionals.
Decks often feature a number of electrical and plumbing fixtures, such as outlets and faucet installations. These can be a source of moisture, especially if the outlet casings crack and the caulking wears away. A professional will inspect these fixtures for damage and will replace any that are leaking or cracked.
Wood rot is one of the most common signs that a wood deck needs repairs. Wood rot occurs when the decking wood reaches a certain moisture threshold that allows fungus to grow and degrade the wood. This can be prevented by regularly applying a stain or sealant.
MJW Construction offers a wide range of services, including deck repair and replacement. The company has experience building, designing and repairing both composite and wood decks. The team also performs demolition and offers maintenance plans for existing decks. Its services are backed by a worry-free guarantee.
A tape measure, power sander and power washer are all basic tools that can be used for deck repair. A circular saw may be needed for cutting replacement planks to size. A cordless drill can be used for securing the new planks.
Other important tools include a level and a pencil to mark off areas for replacement planks. Lastly, a power stapler can be used to secure replacement planks in place.
Erosion is another big problem that can affect a deck. It can cause soil to shift and make the footings that support the deck posts unstable. This can lead to the post moving laterally or sinking and the eventual collapse of a deck. Correcting erosion problems can sometimes be as simple as re-routing the drainage from gutters and downspouts away from the deck.
The posts that support a deck are under the greatest amount of stress and can be subject to failure if not checked on regularly. The best way to avoid a post failure is through a thorough annual inspection. This will help you see any issues that might be developing such as dry rot or mold. Inspecting the posts will also tell you if they are in good shape and just need touch-ups or if it is time to replace them.
The main cause of wood rot in a deck post is water infiltration. This could be from rain or snow that is trapped in the wood or from particulates in the soil that can hasten the rotting process. Deck posts that are sunk below grade or buried in concrete are particularly susceptible to water infiltration. This can be especially problematic if the soil is clay that doesn’t drain well. Water will accumulate around the post and over time can break down the wood from the inside out – and if left unattended this can lead to a catastrophic failure of the entire deck.
Replacing a deck post is generally more expensive than repairing it, but there are some cases where this is the right choice. This is especially true for decorative, rather than structural posts. Many older homes have second-story decks over porches or concrete patios that are supported by decorative posts. In this case, it may be impossible to find a replacement that matches the existing one.
Repairing a deck post is not as difficult as replacing it. You can use a variety of methods for this, from cutting away the rot and laminating a new section to using metal brackets to shore up weak spots on the old post. If you decide to go this route, be sure to use a pressure-treated post and set it in concrete on a gravel base so that water can drain away from the bottom of the post rather than pooling around it.
It’s important to be able to recognize when a deck needs to be replaced or repaired. The signs can be subtle, but if you see them in a few places it’s best to take action before the problem worsens.
It’s possible to save money by doing surface maintenance on your deck yourself, but any extensive repairs should involve a contractor. This is especially true if the project requires heavy equipment rentals or advanced carpentry skills. For example, if your deck’s stability is being compromised by loose ledger boards, a professional can help you install new ones that are firmly attached to the beams and concrete or wood foundation beneath them.
Similarly, if your deck is sagging or has a spongy feel below your feet, a contractor can repair the problem by adding new joist hangers to secure the existing ones. These are pieces of metal that connect the structural joists to your deck’s floorboards. If they rust or lose their grip, the deck will sink and possibly collapse.
Another common issue involves loose deck posts, usually from improper installation. If you notice this problem, the posts should be removed and replaced by a contractor who is familiar with building codes for your area. Loose posts are often caused by a loose lag bolt, but in some cases the anchoring is more severe. A contractor can install more substantial fasteners or even replace the entire post if needed.
Deck railings aren’t a major part of the deck’s structure, but they are a crucial safety feature. It’s important to have sturdy, secure railings, especially if your deck is on an elevation or has children running around it. A shaky railing can also be a trip hazard, so make sure to call in a professional to install or repair yours if it’s in danger of becoming unsafe.
If your deck is covered with mildew and dirt, you can often save it by simply cleaning it. This will get rid of the dirt and mold while allowing you to see any problems that may have been hidden underneath. Be sure to reseal your deck afterward to reduce future staining and water damage.
We’ve seen a lot of boats where the deck and/or superstructure cores are rotted from the inside out, due to water intrusion from poorly-bedded hardware (anything from canvas snap fasteners to windlass foot switches and tender cradles). The blister fluid contains styrene, which can soften or even dissolve foam. When water gets into the core, the result is a spongy, rotting mess. To avoid this, we recommend using a good bedding compound (such as DeBond) with any new hardware on your deck.