It's time to Inspect your Deck

MAY 10, 2019

Decks are exposed to all the elements from outside including rain, snow, wind, heat, and cold. You will want to give your deck a tune up to keep it from deteriorating.

If you have an older deck that needs some fixing up - where do you start? If the wood and support footings on the deck are still in good shape, it’s likely that a few fixes will do the trick. However, if the deck shows signs of rot and deterioration, you will want to replace it. Decks are constantly exposed to the elements so it’s no wonder they are occasionally in need of a tune-up. The list below will offer tips to repair some of the common problems often seen with older decks and a few easy steps for fixing them.

Loose deck boards – Wood expands when it gets wet and it shrinks when it dries. As the wood moves, the deck gets more elastic and bouncy, the nails and screws used to be tight but now they have become loose. To fix this problem, add coarse-threaded, galvanized deck screws alongside nails to cinch down loose deck boards. A nail punch can be used to drive existing nails farther into the joists. Be sure to stand or kneel on the deck boards as you screw them, so they’re tight.

Swaying posts and beams – As beams and posts lose their stiffness they become more elastic and “bouncy”. A quick fix for this problem is to install cross braces between posts and beams to take out any sway. Cut 4 x 4’s or 6 x 6’s (the longer the better) with 45-degree angles on each end. Use 6-inch or longer lag bolts to secure the ends to the posts and beams.

Loose guardrail posts and pickets – Installing lag bolts and washers to firm up guardrail posts and pickets by pre-drilling holes, then installing one or more lag bolts. This will hold pickets and posts firmly in place to the deck rim keeping people safe.

Bouncy deck surface – Add blocking between joists to reduce bounce. This will unify the joists so that weight applied to one joist is partly distributed to those on either side. You will want to avoid installing blocking under gaps between the deck boards as this will create areas that hold water.

Loose or wimpy stairs – Remove the stairs and add solid stringers to the two existing outside stringers. If necessary, add 2 x 4’s to both sides of the middle string to increase strength. Then replace the steps.

Ineffective joist hangers – Joists may shrink so that their bottoms no longer rest on existing hangers. The easiest fix for this problem is to install wedges and drive them into the gap until they’re snug. Some decks are even constructed without joist hangers. If this is the case, install them using 16d galvanized nails to secure them to the ledger strips and beams. Use galvanized stubby nails for the joists.

Discoloured wood – A wood conditioner can be applied, after thoroughly pressure washing, to remove any old coatings, stains or mildew. Prepare the surface for refinishing by allowing the deck to dry completely, then sand and repair any flaws. Use an oil base, naturally pigmented, penetrating finish for a natural wood look that will protect the deck from rain and sun, yet will still show the grain of the wood.

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