Maybe you had the idea that once you had your deck built back in the day that it was a done deal, once and for all. But wait, there’s still re-decking. There are some basic requirements for the well-being of any deck that you just can’t let slide. For instance, wood needs a good cleaning every year. Stain it every couple of years. If you let the necessary maintenance slide you could eventually be seeing telltale signs of rot and deterioration.
How do you know if it’s time for you to do something about your deck?
Some signs are pretty obvious. If the wood is rotten, or if you have broken or wobbly railings and missing nails, it’s time to take care of things.
A professional can give you a clear idea of what to do about a damaged deck. With any luck, you may not have to start from scratch. You might be able to keep your old framework and just replace some old boards. This is called re-decking.
With proper maintenance, performed regularly, you may get 10 to 15 years out of your deck before it needs help in the form of re-decking. It requires substantially less work and expense than tearing down the old one and starting over. A professional can diagnose the condition of your old deck and let you know whether or not re-decking can work for you.
This is the most popular lumber used for deck building. Generally, it’s southern yellow pine which has been treated chemically so that it prevents damage from fungus, rot and wood-borers. It’s important to wear a mask and gloves when you’re working with it. And under no circumstances should you burn it because it’s treated with toxic chemicals. The chemicals used in recent years are safer than they used to be. But chromated copper arsenate (CCA), a possible carcinogen, was still in use in PT lumber until the end of 2003.
It’s economical, easy to work with and you can find it just about anywhere in the United States. But PT lumber can crack and warp if you don’t stay on the maintenance routines like doing a power wash every year and putting on a coat of stain or wood preservative every couple of years. PT lumber can do you for about 15 years.
Cedar and Redwood
These woods don’t require chemical treatment because of the oils and tannins that they contain. They resist decay, pests, and rot. At least, they do if there is enough heartwood in the center of the tree. The outer area has sapwood which is softer, and prone to decay. They are soft enough that constant walking on it can eventually cause damage.
Cedar and redwood will need a good power washing every three or four years. Putting on stain is an important factor in keeping its natural color. A coat of finish every few years and a wood preservative that repels water will help keep things in good shape. They last about 20 years.
Hardwoods are sturdy and resist pests and rot naturally. This sturdiness makes hardwood challenging to work with. It’s so dense you can’t hammer in a nail without first drilling a hole for it. Cutting, drilling, getting nails and screws into hardwood properly all require that you bore pilot holes.
Due to its density, stain doesn’t take very effectively unless it’s oil-based and made especially for hardwood decking. Dark wood will get extremely hot in the summer sun. Tropical hardwood is pricey but it will last about 25 years.
Composite decking and plastic lumber are becoming more popular these days. Composites are mostly made up of recycled plastic and wood fiber. They are usually pretty low-maintenance, though that can vary if you’re using composite decking in shady or damp areas.
They are heavier and more costly than wood. Composites, because they contain wood, may decay somewhat over time. A tendency to mildew means you’ll have to scrub it more often.
Plastic lumber is plastic through and through. Both composite and plastic lumber are resistant to rotting, splitting, warping, as well as to stains and weather. They don’t need sanding, refinishing or staining. These materials don’t need a lot of maintenance unless they are being used in spots that are damp or covered by shade.
Aluminum has none of the problems that come with wood. And since heat dissipates well from this material, it is even cooler on the feet than other types of decking.It is however also the most expensive type of material for deck construction.
As you can see, there are plenty of options concerning materials if you want to update and refresh your deck. Don’t hesitate to talk to a professional to find out what will work best to meet your needs.
Photos via Pixabay