Deck repair and maintenance are essential in making sure that your deck or porch is kept beautiful and safe. Some of these repair jobs can be DIY, while most require the expert input of a professional deck builder who can properly determine what needs to be done and which tools work best with the materials that will be used.
A deck, in any form, shape or size, needs a lot of tender loving care. Any homeowner who chooses to have a deck in his property has to have a deep understanding of the responsibilities that come with owning a beautiful deck.
And while there are some deck repair projects that you can definitely do on your own, most of these repair jobs—especially those that involve exotic wood—need to be done by a deck contractor or a decking company who knows deck building inside out. But when do you need a professional and when can you do the repairs on your own?
In areas where weather conditions can be extreme, such as in Rockwall, Texas, your deck can be easily and constantly exposed to the elements, resulting to accelerated deterioration of the materials used its constructions. Fortunately, most of these damages can be repaired. Here are some of the most common deck problems and wood deck repair scenarios that you or a deck builder can address.
A beautifully refinished deck not only looks great, it also greatly improves the resale value of any home and extends the lifespan of the wood. Due to normal wear and tear, it is necessary to refinish the deck for better wood protection and to revive the stain color. Deck refinishing is also a great opportunity to address minor deck repairs like missing nails and loose boards.
There are several basic steps involved in deck refinishing:
Step 1: Deck inspection—start by inspecting the entirety of your deck. Check for popped nails, loose boards and wobbly railings. Also be on the lookout for structural component issues such as split or cracked wood, as well as rotten boards. The signs that you would want to look for to know if the wood is rotten are molded, discoloration and softness when the part is pressed with a screwdriver or any hard object. A thorough inspection will allow you to assess the extent of deck repairs that need to be done.
Step 2: Deck Cleaning—your deck needs to be properly prepared before refinishing and this is done by thoroughly cleaning the wood beforehand. There are a few methods to do this, and this step can be labor intensive, which is why deck refinishing is often delegated to a deck contractor. You would need the following tools and materials:
You can start cleaning the deck by scrubbing the surface with a stiff bristled brush or broom. Although it may not really get into the tight corners and clean the deep cracks like a pressure washer can, scrubbing can be enough if you also use a commercial cleaner or TSP (trisodium phosphate). Many deck repair professionals prefer this deck cleaning method to power washing because it is less harsh.
Step 3: Pressure Washing—this is actually a standard deep deck cleaning method as it effectively removes old stain, dirt and debris from wooden decks. It is important to remember to not let the spray linger on one spot longer than a couple of seconds, as it can gouge the wood.
Step 4: Pre-application Preparations—to prepare the wood surface for finishing or stain, remove loose finishes or paint with a paint scraper. If the surface is painted or varnished and you want to replace it with a stain, you have to strip the varnish with a chemical stripper or the paint off with a paint stripper and a deck cleaner after. If the surface is painted, you have to sand it. Always read the product label and follow the directions for guidance.
Step 5: Applying the Finish—once the deck is dry and totally clean, you can now apply the finish, which usually comes in transparent, semi-transparent, tinted and solid colors. If you hired a deck contractor for the project, make sure that you specify your preferences. There are practical considerations to remember, though: Tinted or clear products usually last for 1 to 2 years, while solid and semi-transparent stains can last up to 4 to 6 years. Rollers, brushes, sprayers, or pads can be used to apply finishing.
Just because a few boards are damaged, rotten or cracked does not mean that you have to replace the entire deck. Replacing the damaged boards is a less intrusive, and of course, less expensive form of deck repairs. You can do this wooden deck repair project by yourself if you have any experience, but if special fasteners were used to attach the wood, you would need the help of a professional deck builder.
Board replacement involves unscrewing or un-nailing the fasteners that hold the boards together, then cutting a replacement board that will match the size of the previous one. It will then be re-attached with the same type of fasteners. Once firmly in place, the board has to be sealed and stained again to match the rest of the deck.
Another scenario where a deck needs to be repaired is when it becomes wobbly for various reasons. A wobbly deck poses a real danger to you, your family and your guests as the deck may collapse. Some of the reasons why decks become wobbly are:
Check the entire perimeter of your deck, especially the areas that are close to water sources and within 5 inches of the ground. Search for signs of rot by probing the wood with a screwdriver. You can start by checking the stairs. Pay close attention to the saw-toothed notched pieces supporting the steps called “stringers.”
If you can access the underside of the deck, closely inspect the beams, posts and joists. Double-check the “ledger”—this is a very important frame that attaches the deck to your house. Most collapsed decks are caused by failure of the ledger. It is important to note, though, that not all decks have ledgers. Check all the hardware, especially the joist hangers if they were used. You would need to replace any that are severely rusted.
Topside, make sure to give the railings a good shake and check if any of the posts are damaged or loose. If you find damage, it is best to replace as they will get worse in time. Look for cracks around fasteners and screws, and replace damaged or rusted ones right away.
At the first sign that your deck is unstable, you have to consult a decking company or a deck contractor in your area for an in-depth analysis, deck repair cost estimate and advice on how to go about deck repairs. It is always best to keep your deck in top shape so that you and your family can get the most out of it for a really long time.