In 2020 alone, 46,000 single-family houses in the United States built some form of decking in their property. That goes to show just how many American families are embracing decks as an integral part of their homes.
Who can blame them? Decks are an amazing place to gather with loved ones without leaving the comfort of home. That’s why it’s vital for deck owners to quickly identify and address any problems that may appear.
As trusted deck contractors in Maryland, we’ll help you identify some common deck problems that you may run into.
Rotting is an extremely common problem found in decks, especially those primarily made of wooden materials. Wood rot is commonly found around stairs, corners, and railings.
They are relatively easy to spot. Sections of the deck will have small pieces of wood that are falling off. These are often found in the edges of the boards or posts. You can also look for darkened areas of the wood and try poking it with a screwdriver. If the wood gives under the pressure from the screwdriver, it might be rotted.
If your deck has signs of wood rot, it’s best to repair or replace all affected beams, boards, and posts to make sure the deck remains stable. However, prevention is still the best way to avoid rotting. Consider doing the following:
- Clean and maintain the deck regularly
- Ensure that no water sources (rain gutters, sprinklers, etc.) interact with the deck
- Have your deck sealed (anti-moisture coating) every year
Gaps Between Boards
Over time, most types of wood tend to shrink as they slowly dry out. This often leads to significant gaps between your deck’s boards. It happens when the wooden boards installed on your deck have not been fully dried.
For boards with visible gaps, the best thing you can do is have them replaced with new ones. Gaps that are wider than three-sixteenths of an inch must be replaced as soon as possible because they can be a tripping and falling hazard.
When replacing the boards, ensure that they are completely dry. If you are using fresh wood, install it with little to no spacing. That should help compensate for the shrinkage that will happen once it starts drying up.
Signs of structural weakness are common decking problems that are almost always caused by two things:
- Aging and poorly maintained deck
- Decks that are not properly installed or fastened
Whatever the reason, a deck with compromised structural integrity must be addressed immediately due to the dangers it poses and the risk of collapse. If you feel like the deck’s surface is unstable or certain components like the railings are starting to wobble, it’s best to have it inspected by a professional.
A professional deck contractor should be able to determine if the issue can be sorted out by repairing certain sections of the structure or replacing some parts of it.
Insects like carpenter ants and termites can be very problematic insects for your wooden decks. Left unchecked, they will eat away the structures keeping your deck together. That’s why they need to be addressed immediately.
For carpenter ant infections, look for the following signs:
- Presence of winged ants around your deck
- The ground underneath your deck have visible wood shavings
- Rustling noises inside the wooden parts of the deck
For termites, the common signs to watch out for are:
- Wood that sounds hollow when tapped
- Black colored rot on some wooden parts of the deck
- Decks feel springy
- Wood is sunken and easy to poke
At the first sign of insect infestation, be sure to call a professional to exterminate them. Some deck and porch contractors are capable of removing these insects as well as fixing any damage they caused.
To prevent infestation, ensure that your deck is rot-free. Soft, rotting pieces of wood attract these insects. You should also remove any form of plants from your deck. Plants enable moisture and rot to take hold in wooden structures.
While these problems may sound difficult to deal with, they can be easily dealt with, especially if they are addressed immediately. However, regular maintenance and inspections are still the best way to prevent any of these issues from ever manifesting.
G.H. Clark Contractors, Inc. is a trusted deck and porch builder, offering a wide variety of styles that fit your budget. If you are interested in deck services, contact us today. Our team would be glad to answer any questions you may have.