Decks are great. Families all over the Carolinas, from Charlotte, NC to Charleston, SC and everywhere in-between, enjoy spending time outside for much of the year. However, like all types of outdoor construction, decks tolerate a lot, from hail storms to heavy winds to general wear and tear. Over time, every deck will need to be repaired or replaced, even if you make a special point of taking great care of your outdoor space.
It can, however, be difficult to know when it’s time to stop repairing your deck repeatedly and replace it altogether. Some repairs are completely normal over the life of a deck; replacing boards here and there, resealing the entire deck, and re-staining pressure-treated lumber are all tasks that are par for the course. There are, however, some unmistakable signs that it is time for a brand new deck.
- The posts are rotting – The support posts on your deck literally keep you and your loved ones from plummeting to the ground. If they are rotten, your entire deck could collapse. Completely replacing the posts and using concrete footers is the best option you have since the wood cannot be salvaged. Depending on how your deck is attached to the support posts, the entire structure may need to be rebuilt.
- The railings are loose or shaky – If the railings on your deck move when you grab them, they definitely need to be replaced. Railings are generally attached to decks with nothing more than nails that will eventually loosen. In some cases, deck railings can be tightened without replacing them, but in many cases, it’s safest to buy entirely new rails.
- Your ledger boards are coming detached – Ledger boards, which hold your deck to the exterior wall of your house, are extremely important. If they are coming loose, it could cause structural issues for the entire deck. Take note if you can see a gap between any of your deck’s ledger boards and your siding. This means they need to be reattached carefully or replaced entirely.
- The post connections are unstable – Even if your deck support posts themselves are not rotten, it’s possible that they are not connected properly. The posts should be just below the joists or beams, not on the sides of them. They should also be attached using galvanized steel carriage bolts; these are durable and will hold-up for many years. If your deck posts are only connected with nails, they could collapse.
- Your ledger boards lack flashing – Depending on how old your deck is and who built it, your ledger boards may or may not currently have flashing. Ledger flashing prevents water from collecting between your deck and your house. This can ultimately lead to mold problems, mosquito infestations, and rot. The easiest way to check for flashing is to walk underneath your deck and to look for a metal or plastic lip on the ledger boards. If no flashing is present, you should add it in the near future.
- Your deck boards are unstable-If your deck boards seem to give way when you walk across them, there’s a good chance they are pulling away from the joist to which they are attached. This may not cause immediate damage, but certainly isn’t good in the long run. It’s a good idea to replace any loose boards right away. Some homeowners choose to simply rebuild older decks from scratch if most of the boards are coming detached.
- Your deck cannot be repaired – In certain cases, decks are simply too damaged to be repaired. If, for instance, termites have destroyed your deck or nearly every board has rotted from neglect, you’ll have no choice but to start from scratch. On the bright side of things, doing this allows you to add features you may not have even considered the first time around.
- Your deck wasn’t built to code – City and state building codes are regularly altered to protect local citizens. If your deck is older, the odds are good that it wasn’t build to meet modern codes. Maybe, for instance, the rails are too low, or the staircase doesn’t have the appropriate handhold. Whatever the issue is, you may find that it is easier to rebuild your deck than renovate the whole thing, so it meets today’s building regulations.
No matter what is going on with your deck, Hatch Homes can help you fix it. Whether you need a small repair, such as ledger board flashing, or you want to rebuild your deck from the ground-up, our experts are equipped to handle the job. We look forward to meeting with you to discuss your project and can’t wait to get started!