Wood decks are beautiful but come with the risk of rotting. Does this imply that all wooden decks are going to rot one day? Not exactly, although the possibility is high. It depends on the timber, to start with. Mahogany, pressure treated, and cedar decks are some examples of the constructions less likely to rot, unless the environment allows it.
Yes, the conditions around the deck, the climate, whether or not there’s a pergola protecting the deck’s timber – and factors like that, make a difference. After all, rot is the enemy but it all starts with the levels of moisture. If the deck is continuously exposed to wet conditions, there is water pooling at certain parts – often due to other problems or bad deck building, or there’s moisture, somehow, rot cannot be avoided. And that’s not all.
Moisture brings insects and all sorts of microorganisms, which eat up the timber’s cellulose, leaving it weak and damaged. So, can you tell if your outdoor decking is rotten or not?
Is your wooden deck rotten or not? Look for the signs
Look for discolorations and insect damage. See if there any spongy areas on the deck which when soaked fall apart. Check if there are pools of water in some parts on the deck. Test how frail the wooden deck is by using a sharp tool, like a screwdriver. Try to insert it in the deck without putting force. It shouldn’t go in, at least not much. What happens is that wood exposed to moisture repeatedly will become the nest of different tiny organisms that will eat the wood’s cellulose, making it brittle.
Deck repair is often possible – don’t panic just yet
Yes, deck repair can – on many occasions, fix the problem. It depends on the extent of damage. You see, rot works like fungus. It spreads. The contaminated area will affect the adjacent areas and soon the whole deck will be in a truly bad shape. The secret is to prevent the expansion of dry rot. And you can do that by paying attention to the signs and by having the deck maintained once in a while.
Naturally, the sooner you catch a problem, the better. In this case, you need to see what causes the problem first before you fix the deck. What’s the point of fixing the deck if the sprinkler will continue to make a part of your deck wet?
Obviously, there’s not one solution to all problems. The main route is to dry the deck. If the situation is bad, some boards may need to be replaced. If there’s leak, you need to see if the ledger board – the one that connects your deck with the house, is affected.
Since this is one of the most important components of the whole deck construction, don’t take chances. If you suspect that this board is rotten, don’t take chances with the stability and integrity of the structure. Better call a deck contractor. No matter what repairs are needed, it’s best if the deck is sealed for protection.
Rotten deck – when replacement becomes a must
Now, there’s a chance that the whole deck structure is rotten – or most of it. Or, its most vital components. If the deck is already old or its damage is beyond repair, it’s best to replace it. That’s for safety reasons alone. Rotten decks cannot be trusted. In some cases, some parts of the existing structure can be reused for the new deck building. But that’s not absolute. In any case, it’s best to find a deck company to consider the options – see if some parts can be saved or not, and take it from there. Don’t forget to take the right precautions from the start – choose the right timber for your location and maintain (check and seal) the deck to fight the enemy within – rotting.