Is your deck damaged from the winter season?An erratic winter season for the Twin Ports — featuring repeated thawing and refreezing, along with a late-season burst of snow — may have done more damage than just creating ice dams and potholes. It may have also taken a toll on your deck.
By: Andrew M. Hunt, ArticleCity and Forum Communications
An erratic winter season for the Twin Ports — featuring repeated thawing and refreezing, along with a late-season burst of snow — may have done more damage than just creating ice dams and potholes. It may have also taken a toll on your deck.
To ensure that you can enjoy the comfort of the outdoors from your backyard this summer, now’s the time to examine your deck and look for damage. Here are some tips on maintenance and repair for your deck:
Remove and replace damaged boards
Use a screwdriver to test places where the wood looks like it might have dry rot. If the wood is soft on a decking board, mark it for replacement. Dry rot is a fungus that spreads through wet wood. If you have a dry rot problem, it is essential that you remove and dispose of all the affected boards in such a way that other boards do not become infected.
Use a screwdriver to remove screws. If you find the screws are rusty and hard to budge, you can pry the boards upwards. Check that the dry rot has not spread to the underlying supporting timber. Replacing the decking boards is relatively easy. It is just a matter of removing the ones that you want to replace and installing the new ones.
You can even use the old boards as a template when you are cutting the new ones to the correct size. This assures an accurate fit and helps to maintain the original quality and professional appearance of your deck.
Weather-damaged boards sometimes twist out of shape, popping nails and screws, and creating an uneven walking surface. Unless the boards are damaged, you can repair them in place, rather than replace them. Once the board is back in place, secure it firmly with 75mm screws.
When you need new boards to replace damaged sections of the deck, it’s a good idea to use a biodegradable cleaner and brightening agent on the older portions of the deck so that the new and old parts of the deck more closely match. Use a sealer to finish off the deck and guard against moisture.
Fix popped nails
When wood shrinks and expands in weather, it can cause nails to pop up out of the boards. The best way to fix these is to replace the nails with longer, thicker nails that will have a better hold. You can use a punch to countersink the nails into the wood. It is better to replace nails with galvanized deck screws.
Does your deck run drastically downhill? It could be that the posts, which bear the weight of your deck, have begun to sink. If the posts were not sunk deeply enough into the ground, then the yearly action of freezing and thawing will begin to push your posts deeper into the ground. As the posts sink, so goes your deck!
There are several ways to combat this problem. Ideally, you won’t have to remove any decking boards from the deck to perform the repairs, but if there is not enough clearance under the deck for you to work, then you may have to remove a portion of the decking so you can access the bad post.
Place a car jack under the joist that is closest to the bad post, and slowly raise the deck to the point where it is level again. It is important that you do not do this too quickly. Speed may cause the wood to separate or joist hangers to pull apart. Just make incremental lifts, pausing to listen between each one. If something is breaking or pulling apart, you will be able to hear it.
Once the deck is level, slide a length of narrow pipe into the hole by the side of the post (the dirt should be loose around the post you just raised) and push it into the hole until you meet resistance. Use the pipe as a funnel and slowly pour pea shingle into bottom of the hole. Work the pipe up and down gently to make sure that as much shingle as possible works itself into the hole. Repeat this process around the raised post until the deck maintains the correct level, even when you release the jack.
Over time, the joists that support the floor of your deck can become weak, split, or break. Replacing these in a timely manner is vital to maintaining the security and safety of the deck.
Begin by removing all the decking boards that touch the affected joist. This may be just a few, or it could be the entire deck, depending upon the size and pattern of your deck. Ideally, the decking was screwed down and you can remove these boards with a cordless driver. If, however, the boards were nailed to the joists, you must use a hammer and a pry-bar to remove the decking boards. Take care not to split them when pulling them up, or you may also have to replace the boards.
Once you have access to the joists, remove the nails or screws that secure the broken joist into its hanger. The joist should just slide right out. Carefully measure the correct length for the new one and slide it into place. If it looks like the joist-hanger is damaged or excessively rusty, then replace it as well.
After you have secured the joist into the joist hanger, place the floorboards back in their original pattern. If you have to remove a large portion of the floor to access the joist, you may find it helpful to number the floorboards so that you have an easier time figuring out where each one goes when the time comes to put them back.