Building a deck is one of the simplest construction projects homeowners can undertake. However, working with your town building department to get a permit and ensure that the deck meets structural requirements is important.
When your deck needs repair, Deck Repair Charleston SC can perform an inspection to check joists and another framework. A contractor can also recommend and install any customizations to make the deck more functional.
All decks must have some sort of foundation that can support the weight of furniture and people. Over time, many factors can deteriorate a deck’s foundation. Seeing signs of an unstable deck means it’s time for a professional to inspect the structure and correct any problems.
Most decks are built on concrete footings. These pads, which are underneath the posts that hold up a deck, must be in stable soil to avoid damage to the entire structure. But constant changes in temperature and weather conditions can cause footings to shift or even crack. Depending on the problem, replacing these footings may be necessary to restore a deck’s stability.
Decks that sit on sloped ground need to have strong footings to prevent heaving, which can cause the deck to sag and become unsafe to walk on. A sloped deck also needs to have the proper ledger board that attaches it to the house frame and keeps water away from the wood. If the ledger board is missing or damaged, it will need to be replaced with a new one that meets building codes and is safe for a deck.
A bare wooden deck, even if it’s pressure treated, will rot over time unless protected with a stain or sealant. It’s a good idea to apply a sealant once or twice a year, but it’s especially important to do so before any major changes in weather.
While it’s common for trees to shed limbs due to age or storms, large limbs falling on a deck can be dangerous and may cause structural damage. Keeping trees and other vegetation away from a deck is a good way to avoid this issue.
Some homeowners choose to use screw piles as their deck footings. These manufactured piles are screwed down into the soil below the frost line, which can help prevent heaving. Installing screw piles can be expensive and requires the use of hydraulic machinery, so this type of footing is best left to professionals. A residential deck repair company will have access to this equipment and can install a screw pile system that’s affordable and strong enough for most homes.
If your deck is elevated or has stairs, it’s important that you regularly inspect the railing to ensure it’s secure. Loose handrails are a safety hazard that can fall off and cause injury to your family. This is especially true if you have young children that use the railing often. Fortunately, most loose railings can be fixed with some simple steps.
If you’re dealing with a loose handrail, the first thing to do is check to see if it is only loose at one point, such as where it meets a wall or another stretch of railing at a corner. If the problem is at this point, you can tighten up the connection using construction glue and a caulking gun. Once the joint is dry, you can use a galvanized screw to ensure it stays together.
In other cases, the problem may be that the railing is loosened at its base. This can happen due to pressure on the railing from people leaning against it or snow piling up on it. In this case, you can add additional support by installing post skirts like these (on Amazon) or hammering in extra screws into the posts to keep them from pulling out of place.
It’s also a good idea to install extra blocking in a zig-zag pattern between the rim joists of your deck. This will prevent the joists from moving in the future and could help you avoid having to replace your deck.
Some homeowners choose to use plastic railings on their decks, which offer several benefits. They’re affordable, don’t rust, and can be a great option for coastal homes that experience high amounts of moisture. However, they’re not as durable as metal, and they can be prone to warping or breaking under pressure.
If you’re dealing with a plastic railing that’s loose, it might be time to replace it. Depending on where you live, your deck might need to be higher than average to meet local code requirements for railings. In these situations, it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced professional to make sure your deck is safe.
If you’re not careful, pests can destroy your deck and make it unsafe to use. Wood insects like termites and carpenter ants can weaken the structure and damage the boards. You may notice signs of an infestation such as mud tubes, swarming, or hollow sounding wood. It’s best to call a professional pest control company to treat the problem before it gets worse.
If the infestation is extensive, your contractor may recommend replacing your entire deck. For smaller infestations, you can repair the damaged areas with wood glue, patching, or filling. You should also check for other signs of insect damage such as swarming, wood flakes, and hollow sounding wood.
Carpenter bees are another type of wood-destroying insect that can damage your deck. These solitary bees bore perfectly round holes into wooden surfaces including decks to create nesting sites. Although they don’t eat the wood as termites do, their drilling can weaken it over time. You can tell if you have a carpenter bee problem by looking for small holes about half an inch in diameter, sawdust beneath the holes, and the presence of bees hovering around the deck.
Rodents can also cause serious damage to your deck and spread diseases through their droppings. Seeing rats and mice scampering about the deck can be extremely unsettling, not to mention the fact that they can chew through the wood of your deck, which can compromise its structural integrity.
Wasps can also be a problem. They build their nests in nooks and corners of your deck, which can be an eyesore as well as a nuisance. They are also a safety hazard because they can sting you if you get too close to them.
To prevent pests, regularly inspect your deck and repair any cracks or holes. Also, choose exotic tropical hardwood such as ipe, cumaru, or garapa for your deck construction to make it less appealing to insects. You can also install a bug lantern or a citronella candle to repel bugs and other pesky critters. Lastly, clean up trash, crumbs, and spills promptly.
Mold and mildew are an issue for all types of decking materials, and any appearance of either will require immediate attention. The good news is that you can control two of the conditions needed for mold growth: food (dirt, pollen and other organic material) and moisture. The best way to keep your deck from getting moldy is to sweep it regularly and to use a dehumidifier when the weather is hot and humid.
If the area of your deck where the mold is growing is stained or painted, you can apply a cleaning solution and scrub it thoroughly. You should also be sure to wear protective clothing, including safety goggles, rubber gloves, an air mask and work pants. Prolonged mold exposure can cause health issues, including breathing complications, memory loss and headaches. In severe cases, people who are particularly sensitive or have preexisting health conditions may experience more serious symptoms.
The treatment for black mold on decks varies depending on how much has grown, its severity and where it is located. For example, if the mold is on or under your deck, it is likely that water and moisture are building up there due to improper drainage or grading. If this is the case, you can fix this by installing a drainage system and adding ventilation to allow trapped moisture to escape.
On the other hand, if your deck is showing signs of dry rot, this requires different action. Dry rot is a fungus that grows in moist wood, and it can be identified by the brittle, warped and damp appearance of the boards as well as by a musty odor. This type of fungus can destroy your deck if left unchecked, and it must be treated as soon as you notice it.
If you have a wood deck that is not stained or painted, a simple mix of vinegar and baking soda will effectively remove the mold and will also disinfect the area. This should be applied with a brush or sprayer, followed by a hose rinse to clean away any residue and prevent mold from returning.