How to Tell If Your Deck Needs Repair or Replacement

A comprehensive inspection can help homeowners decide whether Deck Repair or replacement is needed. The most obvious factor is the size of the damaged area. Replacing a section of the deck due to severe rot costs more than replacing a few planks because of surface rot.

Deck Repair

Structural issues can be costly, so it is best to call a professional team as soon as possible. Luckily, there are many simple repairs that can be done.

When a plank becomes damaged, it’s important to replace it as soon as possible to prevent further damage. This is particularly true for wood planks, which can swell or shrink with the weather and pull nails or screws loose. Check your deck for these problems frequently and refasten them as needed. You should also inspect the ledger, which is the piece of framing that connects your deck to the house and needs to be free from rusty nails or screws.

Laminate floor planks can be a bit trickier to repair, but it is possible if you are willing to take the time. You will need to “unlock” the planks in order to remove and replace them, which is fairly labor-intensive. However, it will ensure that the new plank is properly glued in place and will not be affected by the expansion and contraction of the laminate.

Start by removing the old plank with a hammer and pry bar, being careful not to damage adjacent boards in the process. Once you’ve removed the old plank, remove any nail heads and sand the surface to make sure it’s smooth. Before gluing the replacement, carefully mark where it will go with a pencil or removable marker. Next, cover the surrounding boards with masking tape to protect them from your tool marks. Finally, apply LLF-approved adhesive to the locking edges of the new plank.

Once the glue is applied, allow it to dry for a few minutes. After this, press the new plank into place and make sure it’s secure before walking on it. If your deck has seen better days, it’s time to call in a professional to help with the repairs.

It’s important to remember that the flooring industry only allows for 5% waste (wonky planks, damaged edges, etc.) in all of its products. If your laminate has more than this amount of damage, then you should bring it up with the dealer to get it fixed under warranty. Otherwise, you may need to pay to have it replaced by a professional.

Rotted Spots

Wood rot can cause significant damage to a deck over time, especially if it goes untreated. Wet rot (scientifically known as cellar fungus) and dry rot are two types of wood fungus that can damage the structure of your deck. Identifying and fixing wood rot early on can save you money and stress.

Checking for soft spots is a key part of routine deck maintenance. A good flashlight and long-handled screwdriver are the tools you’ll need to probe around posts that touch the ground for softness. Since those areas come into closer contact with moisture than other parts of the deck, they are more likely to rot.

Dry rot is an often-overlooked issue that can have devastating consequences. It is caused by microorganisms that eat the cellulose in wood, leaving it brittle and more easily broken apart. It also attracts wood-eating insects like termites, which compound the problem.

Wet rot is a much more serious problem, as it can cause structural damage to your deck. It can deteriorate the lumber in your deck’s frame, leading to sagging, warping, and other issues. It can even deteriorate the beams and joists that support your deck.

When you find rot, it’s important to remove the affected pieces and treat the rest of the timber in close proximity with a fungicide. This can help prevent the fungus from spreading to other areas of your deck.

When you’re repairing rotten wood, you can use a wide variety of materials, depending on what type of wood it is. Wood filler and hardeners can be used to fill the hole created by the rotted wood, while epoxy can be used to strengthen it. Once the repairs are complete, you can stain and seal the new wood to match the rest of your deck. This will also help protect it from moisture in the future.

Damaged beams and joists

A compromised beam or joist can create a serious safety hazard. These structures are responsible for the weight of the floor and other structural components, such as the deck boards. When these framing members begin to rot, the resulting weakness can create dangerously weak points in the structure that will cause it to sag or collapse. Luckily, the damage to these structural members can often be repaired with relative ease. The most common method is to install a sister joist alongside the existing one, which will help provide additional support.

Other methods include sandwiching the damaged member between two pieces of plywood or using flitch plates to add strength. These metal strips are placed along the side of the weakened member to provide additional strength and prevent it from rotting.

It is important to determine why the joist or beam is rotting before starting to repair it. Moisture and insect damage are major contributors to this type of damage. Powderpost beetles leave joists riddled with holes, termites leave telltale mud tunnels on foundations and posts, and fungus can easily grow in damp areas of a house that don’t have proper ventilation.

If the damage is from insects, it can often be cured by eliminating the infestation and making sure there is adequate drainage around the home. Moisture issues can be resolved by installing air bricks and addressing any problems with water leaks or the soil surrounding the foundation of the building.

When repairing a compromised floor joist, the best option is to use a pair of joist plates, which are available from most hardware stores. These metal plates are shaped to fit a joist and then secured in place with screws. This is a relatively simple and inexpensive way to repair the end of a joist, but it will not provide as much support as reinforcing the entire joist.

In cases where the whole joist is rotting, it may be necessary to replace the entire beam. This can be a costly project, but it is usually required if the joist is supporting the deck and other components of the structure. Depending on the severity of the damage, this may be done by jacking up the floor frame from below and then nailing in a new full-length joist flush to the existing one with construction adhesive. Before doing this, it is important to remove any pipes or wires that are currently going through the joist and then turn off the water, power, and gas.

Damaged Railings

If a wooden deck railing feels wobbly when you push against it, it’s likely that one of the connections between the posts and the rest of the structure is loose. This may be the result of a screw or nail that’s come undone or from the wood itself becoming weakened through moisture damage. Either way, a loose railing is a hazard that can lead to someone tripping and falling over it. This is why it’s crucial to get this type of repair done as soon as possible.

To fix a loose railing, it’s a good idea to start by removing the old fasteners and reattaching them with metal epoxy like JB Weld or similar products. This will help ensure that they’re able to hold the weight of an adult person, as well as any children or pets who use the railing. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to prepare and clean the pieces for reattachment. It’s also a good idea to check that the fasteners are tight enough to hold the railing in place and to replace any that are showing signs of wear or rust.

Wooden deck railings can suffer from rot just as easily as the other parts of the deck, especially if they’re exposed to a lot of water. Moisture damage will weaken the wood, which is then more likely to succumb to fungi that can quickly deteriorate the whole structure. If you notice a swollen, splintered, or discolored area at the base of your deck posts, it’s time to call an iron contractor or railing specialist for repairs.

While it is possible to repair loose, rotting, or damaged portions of your porch or deck railings yourself, it may be easier and more cost-effective to invest in a new railing system altogether. There are many options to choose from, including metal railing systems that will look great on any porch or deck. There are also wood railings that you can customize to match the style of your home, as well as cable systems and other types of specialized railings.