For many, a deck is an extension of the home. It brings indoor life to the great outdoors. With a little care, a deck can last for many years. Neglected, it can become an eyesore or worse, unsafe! This spotlight on decks provides a few tips to help keep your deck safe and in good condition.
Pressure Treated Wood: The most common deck building material is pressure treated wood. Properly maintained, a pressure treated wood deck can last 20 years.
Cedar: Cedar is a premium deck building material with a rich look and feel. It is more expensive than pressure treated wood but it has many desirable properties. It is naturally more dimensionally stable than pressure treated wood so it does not shrink and split. A well maintained cedar deck can last 20 years.
Synthetic: Synthetic decking is the most expensive decking material but it requires little to no maintenance beyond cleaning and should last many years.
The secret to a deck that looks good over the years is wood sealer. Unsealed wood absorbs water. Over time the wood splits and deteriorates.
Here’s a test to see if your deck needs sealer. Pour a cup of water onto the wood, if the water beads up and runs off, the deck is in good shape. Otherwise it needs sealer.
Many decks fail because they are old, worn and rotted. Others fail because they were not built properly in the first place. The most critical connection is the deck to house connection. Look out for:
• A ledger that is attached securely to the house structure.
• Flashing to keep water from leaking behind the ledger. Water is directed over the ledger.
• Joist hangers attach joists to the ledger.
Check Your Deck
Look for these signs of trouble:
• Wood rot: Rotted connections such as the ledger board to house connection could lead to deck collapse.
• Good connections: Check points of connection of major components such as the deck to house, guard rail to deck, beam to post, post to pier, etc. You should see plenty of metal brackets and bolts not nails.