Many homeowners use backyard decks to define their outdoor space and provide an ideal location for entertaining, relaxing, or barbecuing. As a contractor or builder, you may construct many decks from scratch, but you also need to know how to approach an aging deck.
While some older decks can be restored through new boards, hardware, and finish, other backyard decks are beyond saving.
In this blog, we list six signs that the damage to a backyard deck necessitates replacement over repairs or restoration.
1. Erosion around the Post
Most decks sit on strong posts set into concrete or simply anchored deep in the ground. Over time, the movement of water around the base of the deck can wear away the earth around each post.
Advanced erosion, such as when the concrete anchor begins to show or the post is mostly exposed, can destabilize the deck. This destabilization may make the deck wobble or lead to a snapped post.
You may need to replace the deck completely in order to redesign how the posts anchor into the ground below them.
2. Extensive Deck Surface Damage
Localized damage to the surface of a deck can usually be remedied by replacing a few boards. However, when any kind of damage affects most of the surface, the deck likely needs to be replaced.
The most common types of surface damage come from wood rot, water intrusion, and mold. You may notice soft or crumbling wood, visible mold growth and spores, or excessive cracks and splintering.
3. Gaps between the Deck and House
Ledger boards keep backyard decks attached to the house. When these boards become damaged, gravity and the deck’s weight may make the entire structure lean away from the building.
A leaning deck poses a major safety hazard since someone could trip on the gap or the structure could collapse. Additionally, gaps between the deck and the house may let water seep into the surface boards, support framework, and posts, encouraging rot.
4. Rotten Posts
Major issues with deck posts are always a cause for concern and often require full replacement. In addition to erosion around the posts, look for structural damage to the posts themselves.
If the posts look like they’re wearing away or rotting through, recommend that the homeowner stop using the deck immediately and replace the structure as soon as possible. Rotten posts can break without warning, endangering anyone on or under the deck at the time.
5. Unstable Railings
Instability can affect the top of a deck just as much as the support framework. Railings that lean outward or that wobble when touched pose a safety hazard.
Check where the railings attach to the deck. If you find soft or warped wood, you may need to replace the entire deck rather than just the railings.
6. Widespread Discoloration and Stains
While some fading or stains won’t affect a deck’s performance, widespread discoloration can indicate serious underlying issues. Some spilled substances, such as harsh cleaning chemicals, automotive fluids, and cooking grease can corrode the deck’s finish and material over time.
Additionally, old decks are more likely to have hidden stability problems. If you don’t know the age of a deck, advanced fading, peeling varnish, and extensive blemishes imply that the deck is old enough to need restoration or full replacement.
If you notice any combination of these signs, advise your clients to consider replacement rather than repair efforts. A full replacement can make the deck completely safe and functional again.
Whether you’re designing an entirely new deck or replicating the homeowner’s current setup, trust Nisbet Brower for all your decking material needs. We carry lumber, PVC, and composite deck boards, as well as the specialized hardware you need to complete the project.