Have you been putting off that deck project?

Your deck may be able to make it through another season of snow, rain, and blistering sun but at some point the deck will weather and it will be time to replace it. A deck is a big investment and we at Deck Indulge know it is one of the more easily put off projects. In this area, many of the homes were built in the 70's when local building codes were lax. We have seen deck projects that were put off for so long they became a hazard with rotten sub-structures that required we spend a day to just anchor the existing structure so we could safely remove it. Granted this was an extreme case, but there are some obvious signs it's time to replace that worn out deck:

1. Does your deck sit precariously on rotted posts?

Decks built today use concrete footings (called a caisson) typically installed 3 feet beneath the terrain and a couple of inches above the ground. Depending on the material used, a special bracket is used to keep the base of the post dry. It's quite possible your existing deck posts rest directly on the footings where moisture will have its way and rot the wood. Sometimes the posts that were installed aren't even treated lumber, which will cause the structure to fail even more rapidly. Deck Indulge will replace the posts and install modern footings designed to keep moisture from prematurely rotting your deck.

2. Do your railings shake when you grab them?

Loose railings can be a major safety hazard, especially with elderly or if you have children. Many of the older existing decks we see are attached using only nails. Deck Indulge always uses modern hardware to properly and securely fasten the railing to the deck.

3. Are the Ledger boards pulling away from the house?

In many cases older decks used only nails to attach the ledger to the house, and eventually these will fail. If the ledger board is pulling away from your house, please call us today because your deck is very likely to fall down soon. Deck Indulge uses a ledger "locking" system using modern hardware specifically designed for the job where a minimum of 3 fasteners every 16 linear inches are used to ensure a solid connection from your house to your deck for decades.

4. Are the post connections weak?

To support the deck, your posts should be sitting under the beam or rim joist. Posts that are fastened to the side of the beam or rim joist are putting weight on the fasteners connecting the post to the deck. To ensure a strong connection between the posts and the beam, the deck should be using galvanized carriage bolts. We've come across many instances of deck posts being secured only with standard nails, which could easily lead to a deck collapse.

5. Was ledger flashing installed?

Ledger flashing is what keeps the water from getting between your deck and where it's attached to your home. It's essential that the ledger board of your deck is water tight with the house. Even the smallest of water leaks can lead to mold in the walls of your house, or even worse, the rim joist of the house will rot. If the rim joist rots, your ledger board will fall off and cause the entire deck to topple over. You can easily see if you're missing flashing by going under your deck and viewing the ledger board. If you see no metal or plastic lip over the top of the ledger board, then it's something you should consider as part of a backyard deck renovation.

6. Do the Deck boards wobble when you walk?

If your deck wobbles or gives in when you walk across it and feels like you could fall through at any moment, then this is definitely a good sign that it's seen better days. Over time, the joists can pull away from the rim joist or ledger they’re attached to and end up twisting their way out of their vertical position, which causes them to become weaker.

7. Is the structural damage past the point of no return?

Structural damage issues are usually a clear indicator that a deck has reached the end of its lifespan. In this case, you're probably going to need a full replacement rather than just a remodel. If you have rotted wood, you will notice the frame begin to sag. The rot also makes the wood very susceptible to termites, which will eat their way through the wood and create paths that allow water in, accelerating the process of rotting. Once this process begins and the wood becomes even more vulnerable to termites, it starts decaying, and the rot spreads throughout the substructure. Visible rot on the outer edges of the deck frame and a soft, spongy walking surface are good indicators that your deck has seen the end of its days. You may also notice that screws don’t hold onto the frame members when secure.

Have questions about your deck, or do you have deck renovation story to share? Leave a comment!

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