If you have a deck at your home you know what a vital part of the house it is! Decks extend your living and entertainment space and provide an excellent place to relax on a beautiful afternoon. For these reasons it is important to regularly inspect the health of your deck and make necessary repairs or even consider replacement to ensure the safety of your family and friends. Even the most solidly built deck with the best waterproofing treatments can still succumb to Mother Nature – rain, snow, sleet, blazing sun, wind, etc. Knowing exactly what to inspect on your deck is valuable information for any homeowner, especially when considering if a replacement deck is needed or simply some repairs. We’ve put together a deck inspection list in this article, read on for some valuable information!
The first step in the deck inspection process is to consider the type of wood or other material your deck is made from. This is an important factor when assessing the condition and safety of your deck. Real wood will show different signs of damage and wear and tear than will composite decking material. Wood decks often suffer damage from insects and may become warped in some areas that are used the most and/or areas that are exposed most frequently to outdoor elements. Composite and vinyl decking can often become faded in some areas. Knowing and understanding the type of decking material your deck is built with will help you determine whether a repair is needed or maybe some board replacements are required or if a larger scale deck replacement is required.
The next step in the deck inspection process is to look at your deck posts. Take a look at the base of the deck posts since those areas tend to collect water. Dig out any dirt that you find there and look for rot or water damage. If present, you will need to replace the posts because the deck’s structural integrity is compromised. If you find rot in only one or two deck posts it is possible to replace them, however if every deck posts shows signs of rot damage it will be time consider a total deck replacement.
In addition to the deck posts, the joists are also a vital component in the structural stability of your deck. It is important to inspect each joist for water damage and rot. Deck joists can also be damaged by insects as well as simply the wear and tear that come with age. The best way to do this is to use a screwdriver to push into the wood. If it gives way or is soft you will know that the joists are rotted.
Unfortunately, if your deck joists have rot damage it is difficult to replace them without completely tearing up your deck. If joists are damaged it is best to go ahead and replace your deck. If you are unsure about the extent of joist damage it is best to call in a professional to inspect your deck.
If your posts and joists pass the inspection test the next thing to do is to move on to the deck railings. You will want to inspect the railing for any obvious water damage or rot. If there is no water or rot damage the next step is to lean on your railing and see if they are wobbly or unsteady in any way. Deck railings tend to be where people congregate and lean on railings so it is important to test them out on a regular basis to ensure that they are stable and sturdy. If you do find that the deck railing is decayed or unsteady in certain spots the good news is that you can often easily replace them without tear up or replacing the whole deck.
Age Is A Factor
As with most things in life, age is a factor! New decks that were build well should only need minor maintenance and repair, however as a general rule decks over 6 or 7 years old should be inspected by a professional to ensure safety and longevity. Geographical area and weather element exposure will also have an affect on the health of your deck. In areas of the country where there are extreme temperature swings from season to season or an abundance of exposure to water it is best to schedule an inspection with a professional deck builder in your area.
Finally, check the ledger board
Not even sure what a ledger board is? Allow me to explain… the ledger board is the board that attaches the deck to your home. If the ledger board is pulling away from the house it is a sure sign that your deck may need to be replaced. If the ledger board is not structurally sound the deck and collapse in heavy snow or gusty winds from a thunderstorm. In conclusion, it is best to inspect your deck on a semi-annual basis so that damage is caught early. When in doubt, contact a professional deck builder to inspect the deck. Many problems and deck damage can be repaired easily if they are caught in time.