Decks sit through rain, sleet, hail, snow, sun, and other outdoor elements that wear them out. By doing a little inspection of the key elements of your deck, you’ll know if it’s safe for a little longer, or if you should repair/replace it asap.
Consider the age – if your deck is older than 6 years, it will probably need a professional inspection to make sure all of the standards are up to code. The age of your deck is relative to the kind of exposure to harsh elements it receives. If your deck withstands harsh elements all year long, especially extreme temperatures from season to season, frequently having a professional deck inspection is a smart idea.
Consider the material – Real wood decks and composite decks show their wear and tear in different ways. If you have a real wood deck, inspect for warping of the boards. If you have a composite deck, inspect for fading of the color. Either of these could call for new deck boards.
Inspect the posts – If you have an older deck, it is most likely that the posts rest directly on the footings, which can cause them to soak up water. Water can build up at the base of the posts of your deck, causing rot and water damage. If you dig out these posts and find rot or water damage, you’ll need to replace them right away. It’s possible to replace a few posts without tearing down the entire deck, but if every post needs to be replaced, it may be time for a new deck.
Inspect the joists – Joists also hold up your deck, which make them vital to the stability and safety of it. If your joists show rot or the wood is soft, these are signs that they need to be replaced. Joists are hard to replace without tearing up a portion of the deck, so if they show damage, it’s more than likely time to replace your deck.
Inspect the railing – Check to make sure the railings don’t have any signs of rot or water damage, and that they don’t shake when your grab them. Since people tend to lean or sit on them, it is very dangerous to have unstable railings. Shaky railings won’t cause the entire deck to collapse, but it is a major safety hazard. Luckily, if it’s just your railings where you’re seeing decay, you can replace them without replacing the entire deck.
Inspect the ledger board – The ledger board is the part of the deck that attaches to the rest of your house. If this is rotted or pulling away from your house, it can cause the entire deck to collapse. You’ll also want to check to make sure you have a ledger flashing, which is what keeps the water from getting in-between your deck and your home. You can easily check to see if you have this by going under your deck and looking for a metal or plastic lip over the top of the ledger board. If you do not have one, you should strongly consider it as part of a deck renovation in order to avoid rotting.
If you think it’s time for a professional inspection, a deck repair, or a whole new deck, call Boston Porch and Deck Co. for a free estimate!