Decked Out: How to Know When Your Deck Needs Some TLC

Written by Josh McDermott

how do I know if I need a new deckWhat could be better than a cold drink on a hot summer day as you lounge on your deck?

You assume that everything is solid and sturdy, but do you really know what’s going underneath the boards of your deck? Even though it might look pristine on the surface, it isn’t easy to know whether everything is kosher on the inside.

As homeowners, we tend to avoid action until we can see something going wrong. It’s plausible deniability – if we can’t see it, it’s not happening! However, sometimes being a little proactive can benefit you in the long run. Old, rotted, or poorly constructed decks can be a hazard for you and your family, and the last thing anyone wants to experience is a backyard accident.

Even though thinking about replacing your deck may send you into a tailspin, it’s better than ignoring the situation. Here are a few signs that all might not be well with your deck. 

Standing The Test Of Time

If your deck was built before 2000, as thousands of American homeowner’s decks are, it might be time to get it checked out by a professional. Decks require maintenance, and even then, after enough time has passed, they simply wear out, regardless of how well you maintain them. If your deck is more than 20 years old, it’s probably time to consider a replacement

Was A Weekend Project?

Was your deck professionally constructed, or was it a weekend project for you and a few friends over a couple of beers? Although decks are a relatively simple DIY project, there is a right and a wrong way to build one. When it comes to your deck, safety is of utmost importance, and adherence to construction codes and standards can help keep you and your family safe. If your deck was built without a permit, or you suspect the builders lacked the appropriate knowhow, consider having it inspected. 

Whose Deck Have Those Pests Been Under?

Your deck can become a hidey-hole for all sorts of creatures, both small and large. From insects like termites, carpenter ants, and powderpost beetles, to larger mammals like rats, mice, possums, skunks, and raccoons, your deck could be a whole ecosystem unto itself. Insects and animals compromise the structural integrity of your deck. By boring through the wood and creating holes by scratching, chewing, or burrowing, these pests can make your deck unsafe for bearing loads. 

Straight Up Wear and Tear

No matter how sturdy a deck is when it’s new, it is susceptible to everyday wear and tear. Elements like rain, snow, wind, and sun all take their toll, not to mention the weight of family, friends, and other backyard barbeque attendees. If your deck is a high-traffic area, it can wear out faster than one that is rarely used. Time is a factor as well, and improper care—or lack of any care— can hasten the breakdown of your structure. 

Water Damage

The prime suspect when it comes to damaged decks is water. When your deck is exposed to water, especially when it was not built with water management strategies in mind, it can become weakened. Runoff water can pool in areas where the deck connects to the house, or it can rust and rot the building materials if not properly directed. Neither situation is ideal, so it’s important to ensure that your deck is constructed correctly and maintained for optimal safety. 

Look, Listen, Learn

What does your deck look like? What does it sound like? If your deck is speaking to you, you’d be wise to listen. Creaks and groans when you’re walking on it may indicate an underlying problem, and you want to keep an eye out for weathered, discolored, cracked, or holey wood. Do slats look loose, or are they crumbling? Does the deck sway or bend when you step on it? These are clues that your deck needs attention. Learn to read the signs! 

Do any of these deck symptoms sound familiar? 

If you are unsure about the structural integrity of your deck, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Ensure that your deck is summer-ready and get it checked out by a professional inspector; or, if it looks like it might be time for a refresh, reach out to McDermott right away. Our design-build team will help you get your deck and backyard ready for the best summer ever!

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