A deck is a great place to gather with family and friends or sit back and gaze at the stars. But it needs to be maintained to keep it safe and aesthetically pleasing. Stairs and railings must be inspected for safety. Wobbly stairs are a hazard and can lead to injuries. Removing the Damaged Boards
A major part of a deck repair involves removing damaged boards and nailing down replacements. Depending on the size of your deck and the number of replaced boards, this can be an intensely time-consuming job. However, it can be done fairly quickly if you know how to do it properly. First, you need to loosen the old deck board fasteners. This can be done by tapping the board with a hammer or using a pry bar. While doing this, you should be careful not to damage the framing you want to keep underneath.
Once the old deck board has been removed, use a screwdriver to remove the remaining deck screws. These should be able to be backed out easily, but if you find that this is not the case, you can use a tool called a plug cutter. This has the look of a normal drill bit, but it has a cylindrical shape that allows you to cut around a screw head. This can make removing stubborn screws much easier.
When you’re replacing deck boards, it is important to make sure that you are doing so correctly. If you’re unsure of how to replace a board, consider hiring a professional. They can help you get the job done right and will ensure that your deck is safe to be used again.
The next step in the process is to inspect the joists. If any of the joists are rotted, they will need to be repaired. You can do this by using a hammer and chisel to take off any rotten sections of the joists. You should also check for signs of water damage, which can lead to rot in the future.
It is also a good idea to add cleats or sister joists at the locations where you’ve removed deck boards and anywhere that you believe a joist needs reinforcement. These joists will support the new deck board and prevent it from sinking or bowing in the future. This will also make it much easier to correct any sagging in the deck.
Repairing the Damaged Joists
If you see signs of rot on deck boards, it’s time to look at the joists beneath. Deck joists must be able to absorb the weight of people and furniture without warping or bending. If your joists are rotting, you’ll need to repair or replace them.
Using wood filler can help to cover up the rot, but it does not add any strength to the damaged joist. A better solution is to brush on copper naphthenate and let it dry before sanding. This will help to preserve the joist and prevent it from deteriorating further.
Check the condition of your joists by checking for a spongy feel underfoot or cracking. You can also use a string-line or level to assess the condition of a section of the deck. In cases where the joists are severely rotted, full replacement may be necessary.
One way to reduce the cost of a joist replacement is by sistering, or sandwiching a new joist between two existing joists. When sistering, be sure that the fasteners on both joists are a matched size and placed on opposite sides of the structure. If the nail pattern is skewed, the structure could bend or twist over time.
Another good alternative to replacing a joist is to replace the joist hanger. These galvanized steel brackets connect the joists to your deck’s ledger board and front structural beams. A new joist hanger is a simple DIY job and can be done in place of the current joist.
Before you start working on repairing the joists, make sure to clear the area to avoid damage to any electrical wires or plumbing pipes located nearby. Also, don’t cut or hammer directly on the ledger board or the front of the structure.
Number each of the planks on their edge with a pencil, to aid in reassembly later. Then, dismantle the deck boards and joists. You’ll need to dismantle the deck from below if you can’t safely access the joists from above. If you need to, use a ladder for safety. Once you’ve removed the old joist, carefully remove any fasteners or joist hangers. You should also remove any nails that were nailed through the joist to the ledger board.
Staining or Sealing the Deck
It’s important to stain or seal the deck on a regular basis, which will help prevent water damage and prolong its life. It also protects against mold, fungus and insects. A good sealant will keep your deck looking new for years to come, while a stain will give the wood a more uniform color or tone and make it less vulnerable to damage from sunlight.
Before you start staining your deck, read the product directions carefully. Staining products come with their own preparation and application instructions, which may vary slightly from one another. You may want to work with a brush, paint pad applicator or sprayer depending on the surface you’re staining. Begin at the top of your deck and apply the stain, working in long even strokes. When you’re done, move on to the next area and repeat the process. Continue in this way until all surfaces are covered. Don’t forget to stain or seal any railings and balusters that are part of your deck.
If your deck was built with pressure-treated lumber, you may need to wait a while before staining it. This is because the lumber is often moist when it arrives at your job site, especially if you’re using cedar or redwood. It takes 60-90 days for the wood to dry completely before you can stain it. If you try to seal it too soon, you’ll be sealing in the moisture, which can cause rot or other problems down the line.
Penetrating sealers like linseed oil, tung oil and wax penetrate deep into the wood grain and enhance its appearance by adding shine. They offer protection against weathering and moisture and are especially suitable for wood composite, teak and mahogany decks.
Semi-transparent stains are popular for preserving natural wood and provide the same moisture-resistant properties as a clear sealer. They add pigment that helps to protect against UV degradation and are available in a wide variety of colors.
Solid stains are more durable than either clear or semi-transparent stains. They are available in a wide range of tones, so you can achieve any look you want. They aren’t as durable as a sealer, however, so they may need to be touched up more frequently.
Cleaning the Deck
Decks that aren’t regularly cleaned can quickly become covered in dirt, mildew, moss, and other organic growth. This debris not only makes your deck look dirty, but it can also hide more serious structural problems that need to be addressed right away.
To clean the deck, start by removing any furniture or other decorations from the surface, then mop it with warm water and a wood-safe solution. You may need to repeat this process a few times to get the deck completely clean, but this will help remove any debris that has built up on the surface. After rinsing the deck, you can use a scrub brush to remove any stubborn stains that remain. If you are cleaning a new or previously stained deck, you can add a wood brightener to the cleaning solution to lighten the color and bring out the natural beauty of the wood.
While you are cleaning the deck, it is a good time to inspect it for any other repairs that need to be made. Check the condition of the railings, especially those around stairs, and make sure that they are solidly fastened to the framing. Look for splinters or other signs of damage, and don’t forget to check the joists for any rot or soft spots that need to be addressed right away.
One of the most common deck repairs is replacing warped or damaged boards. It is important to replace the damaged boards with the same type and grade of wood to ensure a proper fit, but you should try to avoid replacing the entire board if it is only slightly warped. This will increase the longevity of your deck and prevent it from becoming a safety hazard over time.
Another common deck repair is sanding the deck. This will help remove any rough edges that may be splintering or creating a tripping hazard on the surface of your deck. When sanding, be sure to wear a dust mask and only sand in the direction of the grain. Once the deck is sanded, you can apply a stain or seal to protect it from sun and weather damage in the future.