The Importance of Proper Deck Repair

A deck is a great place to spend outdoor moments, but structural issues like loose boards or rotting wood can threaten the safety of your family and friends. A pro assessment and timely repairs can ensure that your deck stays a safe gathering spot.

Deck Repair

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Wood warps when it is exposed to different levels of moisture. It happens naturally because of the differences between the cells on each side of a piece of lumber. If one face is more exposed, that face will swell and absorb more moisture as the surrounding air changes humidity; however, when this occurs the opposite side of the board will dry out and shrink. This difference causes the board to curve or bend in the direction of the curved face. Generally, cupped or curved warping is reversible. A crook or twist, on the other hand, is not.

The first thing to do with a warped board is to expose it to sunlight, so the face that is bending can receive more moisture and expand. This works for most minor warps, but if the problem is severe, it may take several days for the warped side to return to its flat position. Another way to get more moisture into the board is to wrap it in wet paper towels. Moisten a few sheets of standard paper towel or thin steaming towels, and drape them over the curved side of the wood. The paper should be large enough to completely cover the curved surface of the board. Next, carefully wring out the excess water and wrap a few layers of plastic over the paper towels.

Now, place the wood with its inward curve facing down on a table or other flat surface. Next, use a light-duty woodworkers clamp or screw to clamp the board with its twisted end on the edge of a bench, with the straight edge against the other end of the board. Using the straight edge, check to see if it is straight. If it is not, slowly apply pressure to the twisted side of the board until it begins to straighten.

A few additional methods to try for more severe warping include a hot iron and weights, steaming the board, and using a vacuum bag. All of these methods work by increasing the wood fibers’ moisture content and allowing them to return to their original flat position once the moisture has dried. To help prevent future warping problems, monitor humidity with a simple hydrometer in areas of your home that are often exposed to fluctuating humidity levels.

Rotted or Broken Boards

While some boards may look fine from the outside, you should always check for signs of rot, such as mold growth or discoloration. Also, if you find that a board has broken or is missing pieces, replace it immediately. Aside from being unsightly, rotting wood is also dangerous as it can break apart and cause injury.

If you do find rotten deck boards, remove them carefully to prevent damage to the surrounding wood. You should then dispose of any fully rotten boards according to local waste management guidelines. You can use either wood filler or composite boards to repair the holes left by removing the rotten boards. After you’ve filled the holes, be sure to sand and smooth the surface. You can then stain or seal the deck to protect the wood from moisture and insects.

Dry rot is a fungus that can spread quickly and eat away at the wood, eventually causing it to break down or even fall off. To get rid of dry rot, you need to kill the fungi and treat the affected area. For this, you should spray the area with fungicide or a wood preservative.

Moisture can also encourage mold growth and attract termites and other pests, which are attracted to soft, damp wood. In addition, if the rotting wood is at the bottom of the deck, it could weaken the structure of your home and cause serious problems. If the rotting wood is affecting a joist or beam, you will need to hire a professional handyman to bring in reinforcements or install new boards.

When it comes to wet rot, it is important to understand that the damage to the wood can actually be done by the water itself. In order to stop wet rot, you will need to treat the affected areas with fungicide, remove any visible spores and fruiting bodies, clean all areas, and sterilise all masonry surfaces. In addition, you should make any repairs that could help to prevent future issues, such as correcting leaks or spots where water pools and collects.

Mold or Algae

Mold or green algae aren’t just unsightly, but they can also cause a lot of problems with your deck. If left untreated, the fungus and moisture can eat away at wood. This can lead to rot or even structural damage to your deck. Also, the spores can trigger health issues and allergies. In addition, if the growth covers the entire surface of your deck, it can be slippery to walk on and cause falls.

The good news is that mold and mildew can usually be removed with a household bleach solution. Just spray the solution on your deck and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes. This will give the solution time to break down the mold or green algae and kill any spores. Then, you can simply wipe it away or rinse the deck using a power washer (using a gentle setting).

Another way to prevent green growth is to sweep and blow away debris regularly. Accumulated leaves, pine needles, and other organic matter provide a perfect habitat for green algae and mold to grow. In addition, these materials may block sunlight from reaching the deck and inhibiting its growth.

It’s also important to address any leaks under the deck. Standing water can soak into the wood and swell it, which will lead to cracking or warping of the boards. This is a big contributor to the development of mold and green algae on your deck.

If you’re dealing with a more severe problem, like dry rot, then it’s likely that you’ll need to replace the affected board. Dry rot is a fungus that colonizes and takes root in damp wood, and it slowly consumes the wooden fibers of the deck until they’re completely destroyed.

Unlike mold, which typically grows on non-porous woods, such as composite and synthetic materials, dry rot can only thrive in porous materials, such as natural woods and concrete. This is why it’s important to have any water leaks in your home addressed as soon as possible, so you can avoid potential damage to your deck.

Water Damage

Water is a destructive force and can lead to wood rot, warping, splitting, mildew growth, and other issues. It’s important to watch out for the signs of water damage on your deck so that you can take steps to repair it promptly before it gets worse.

Wet rot is easier to spot than dry rot, as the wood will look soft and discolored. Wet rot is caused by excessive moisture on a wooden surface, which may be the result of a leaky roof, improper flashing when building the deck, or trapped ground moisture from poor drainage.

Another common sign of wet rot is a spongy feel underfoot or a sagging structure. If you notice that your deck has a spongy feel or is sagging, contact a professional for repairs. This is a serious safety hazard and can cause the deck to collapse and possibly fall away from your home.

Aside from sagging, you should also check underneath the deck for a soft or spongy feel and corroded joist hangers. These are galvanized steel hardware that connect structural joists to the deck’s beams, and they can rust over time. The rusting process allows the galvanized steel to deteriorate, allowing water to penetrate the wood and leading to rot. Inspecting these areas for rust and corrosion should be part of your regular deck maintenance routine.

Another sign of wet rot is the appearance of mold on your deck. This is a surefire indicator that there’s been excessive moisture in the area for a long period of time, and it can be quite dangerous. Mold also indicates that there’s likely a leaking problem somewhere.

Sun damage is also a major concern for wooden decks, as constant exposure to the sun’s UV rays can lead to fading and cracking, which can ultimately lead to rot. The best way to protect your deck from sunlight damage is to use a waterproof sealant.