by Keith Dmytryck — Innovation Construction Co
There is something about a deck which has charmed homeowners for decades, especially as we live more of our lives indoors. A deck is an idyllic living space which brings an outdoorsy feel right within the confines of our own home. With a deck, we can breathe in fresh air, take in relaxing views of the garden or bask in the warmth of the sun. It also serves as an extension of the living room or great room, as a perfect spot for dining al fresco with friends or for star-gazing at night.
It’s no surprise that so many homeowners put a deck on the must-have list and are willing to trade some extra work for the good life. Sun, rain, and foot traffic are just a few of the elements that can take a toll on decks, especially wood ones. And not all decks are created equal.
The quality of materials and expertise of the contractor crafting them determine how long that deck stays strong and beautiful. If your house came with a deck, you might not know its origin. If shortcuts were involved, it’s likely that, sooner rather than later, flooring will cup, split, warp, or rot; railings, posts, and their connections will weaken over time; the deck can become bouncy or shaky – not so good for looks or safety.
When time has taken its toll on your deck, and you find yourself faced with the decision to either repair or replace your deck, which way do you go? How do you know when minor repairs would suffice? How do you know when your deck is beyond repair and must be totally replaced?
Take advice from the pros. Professional decking contractors recommend that you look into the structural integrity of your deck before deciding on whether to repair or replace it — especially if
your deck is over 10 years old and subject to less stringent building code standards. These are the parts of the deck usually prone to damage and requiring regular inspection:
Take a close look at your deck from the ground up. Check the footings first: they hold up your deck and had better be sound. If the footings have heaved above grade, a professional decking contractor can determine the best move. If soil erosion is the problem, he might have drainage solutions. If the footings are not deep enough, he’ll need to replace them with deeper ones. You can avoiding the laborious and costly task of ripping out the old footings by requesting that he dig and pour new and deeper footings next to the old ones.
The next parts to inspect would be the support posts and framing materials. Most decks are made of treated wood which lasts for decades. However, treated or not, wood can only last so long and will deteriorate: fade, splinter or start to rot. Rotting support structures, deck boards, railings, etc. can cause serious safety issues.
To check for rot, poke the wood with a screwdriver. If the screwdriver goes right into punky or soft wood anywhere, it indicates rotting. Posts generally rot in areas which come in direct contact with the footing or the ground. Framing materials, on the other hand, rot where they are exposed to the elements and can’t dry out.
One particular trouble spot is where the deck attaches to the home. When that starts to rot, it becomes a matter of time before the deck starts to pull away from the house — a huge safety issue and liability for you and your family.
When rot is involved, replacement is the only option. This could be a time to consider composites. You don’t have to wait for a whole new deck to benefit from this rot-resistant wood imitator. Composite decking is a great way to replace worn out, weathered parts of any deck.
The whole picture
In the final analysis, the decision to either repair or replace your outdoor deck depends on the extent of the damage and your own preferences. It is safe to say that if there are too many things to repair, the building codes at the time of construction were not anywhere
near as safe as they are today, or that the total replacement cost over time is cheaper or comparable to repairing the deck, it may be wiser to tear down your deck and build from scratch. That is where a professional decking contractor can give an honest assessment of the health of your deck and advise you of your options. Contact us today if you feel your deck may have issues and would like an honest assessment of its health.