6 common problems with wood decks

Ariel view of a wood deck

In this day and age, we desire that quiet spot to read a good book or just listen to the ambiance of the outdoors. These extensions can last for years, even decades, if properly maintained and cared for. Of course, like everything else in this world, decks are prone to hazards and it’s not new that they can also degrade and get damaged. Preventing a disaster on your wood deck can be quite easy as long as you have an understanding of the common problems to look out for. Look out for these 6 common problems on your wood deck.

Water damage

It’s only natural that wood decks would be exposed to rain, snow, and other water-based natural hazards. Unsealed wood is vulnerable to water damage, so in order to prevent any permanent issues and worst-case repairs, regularly reapply a sealant. Over time, water damage will eventually weaken the fibers of the wood, and allow air to slip through, eventually leading to structural problems. You need to thoroughly clean and replace the boards first before you do if deemed necessary (like when the wood is beyond repair from decay, warping, or physical damage).

Rot and decay

Since wood is an organic material, it can still rot and decay, even if it’s properly maintained. This decomposition process can even be worse if the wood in particular is regularly getting exposed to water, like in cluttered gutters. Rot and decay is a natural process for organic material in which microbes, fungi, and critters them down and consume them.

Always look out for signs of decay and rot on your wood deck. Immediately replace parts as necessary and as soon as possible to prevent the rot from spreading out. Wood deck rot can be dangerous as the damage they truly give is internal to the material, which can lead to accidents and serious injuries like when a person falls off.

Rot can be slowed down through frequent cleaning as physical activities ward off the creatures that want to consume it.

Board Gaps

Similarly, wood will slowly shred material and eventually shrink as time goes on. This natural process can create gaps between the board which can be dangerous if the gaps are large enough, especially for children. Fortunately, this problem is quite common and can be easy to fix by just replacing the planks when necessary.

Related: Consumer vs. professional grade deck boards

Discoloration

Discoloration is a common wood deck problem and is also natural and will eventually happen, one way or the other. All wood, regardless of the type of manufacturing, will eventually lose its luster over time and fades in color as it ages. This process can even be exacerbated by damage and debris.

You can hire a good wood cleaner who can help to restore some of the colors. Don’t forget to apply a sealant to the wood boards to increase their life span.

Infestation

While rarer than the previous problems mentioned, infestation from bugs and insects is still natural and can be troublesome to encounter on your wood deck.

You can look out for termites as they can cause significant structural damage since they will literally eat your wood. Make sure the foundation of your wood deck is not directly touching the soil to prevent them from tunneling through. Look out for carpenter ants as well, since even though they don’t eat wood, they have a preference to live and make colonies inside it. It’s only going to be a matter of time before your wood deck will become wooden Swiss cheese.

Other pests that can damage your wooden deck:

  • Carpenter Bees
  • Powderpost Beetles
  • Rats
  • Raccoons, Opossums, and Skunks

Physical Damage

Source: wicrwaterproofing.com

If used often, wooden decks can be susceptible to damage just from everyday use. This phenomenon is worst with moisture, rot, mold, mildew, and the other problems mentioned above. To prevent any significant damage, make sure to clean your deck regularly and properly. Replace any parts that show signs of deterioration, especially the stairs.

If your wood deck extends directly from your home, this is usually done with a long wooden plank that supports the floor joints. If this part decays or gets damaged, it can cause a collapse and lead to serious injuries. Use flashing tucked up behind the siding to make sure that water won’t seep behind the ledger.

More common on older structures, also look out for nails popping out of your wood deck. Remember to use anti-corrosion screws to prevent them from happening again.

Related: Types of cedar fence damages and solutions

Conclusion

By being proactive, you can protect your wood deck and get that outdoor space with little concern. While wooden decks are beautiful, they still require keen maintenance and careful repairs to prolong their life span. You don’t have to be overly cautious, just checking your deck once or twice a year for these common problems should be enough to keep the repair costs low and your safety assured.

If you’re uncomfortable doing the maintenance yourself or don’t have time to do so, you can call a professional that will do this task for you. They will evaluate damages and provide solutions to any problems they’ll encounter.

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