Porches and decks provide outdoor living space which can add tremendous value to our homes and our lifestyles. Living in areas where rain, wind, and temperatures can vary into the extremes means that decks and porches can become damaged fairly quickly and maintenance issues can soon turn into major repairs.
Safety is Paramount
Do a safety inspection of your deck. Lean up against railings. Do they wobble? If so, there is a critical issue to be addressed. Structural integrity means your deck is safe from collapse. How is the structure underneath your deck? Is there an area that is “soft”, or gives when you bounce up and down? If you can see them, inspect the beams and framing underneath the deck. Are there spots of rot? Warping? Cracking? Do the fasteners hold the boards together tightly? If any of these problems are spotted, you need to repair them or have them repaired immediately.
Common Maintenance and Repair Issues
Clean your deck by power-washing once a year and maintaining a sealer on the wood. This is the best way to protect against wood rot, water and insect damage.
One of the first signs of wear is popped nails or screws. Temperature changes cause wood to expand and contract. One effect this has on the surface of your deck is the fasteners can begin to push out of the wood. If you walk across your deck with bare feet, you will quickly notice this problem. You can hammer the popped nails back down, or you can replace them with screws. Screws are more resistant to popping, and quick to tighten back in with a power drill or screw driver.
Warping and Cupping are examples of wood boards becoming distorted in shape. This can interfere with the structural integrity of the deck. Look at the ends of the boards, the surface as well as underneath. The solution here is to replace the boards that have become damaged.
Inspect your deck frequently and address problems immediately. Maintenance prevents repairs; repairs prevent re-builds. Decks and porches can be labor intensive to maintain, but the pay-off is well worth the investment.