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5 Common Deck Problems You Need to Watch For



American homes have an estimated 30 million decks. The deck is a great place to relax in summer, to spend time with your family, and to add value to your home. There’s a good reason why they’re so popular.

All of these good times can be jeopardized by deck problems. You might know the basics of deck repair, but are you aware of the early signs of rot, mildew, and insect damage? You might not unless you’re a decking professional.

Southers Construction’s experts know what to look for. Discover 5 early signs of deck problems by reading on.

1. Early Signs of Rot

Wooden structures are prone to rot, and it’s usually easy to detect. 

You should look for darkened wood that is softer than the surrounding wood. It’s likely rotted if it’s under pressure from your screwdriver.

Preventative deck maintenance is the best way to avoid rot.

Your builder likely applied a coating to your deck when it was built. The sealant protects the wood from moisture. Composite decks don’t require this step.

Keep your deck in top condition by sealing it annually. A sanding tool and wood sealant of your choice are needed to seal your deck.

It is recommended that you sand your deck before sealing it to ensure a uniform finish. After sanding the deck evenly, apply a coat of sealant and let it dry. Depending on the weather, this can take up to two days.

You might be tempted to apply the sealant in the height of summer to speed up the drying process, but don’t! Your decking may look spotty as a result. Let it air dry when the weather is cooler.

2. Black Stains: A Sign of Mildew

Deck repair starts with preventing rot, but other deck problems aren’t as easy to prevent. You may need to take a more reactive approach to mold and mildew.

Mildew on your deck appears as dark stains. These are caused by tannins in the wood reacting with the fungal invader. Oxalic acid can be used to remove mildew stains on your deck.

Make sure you have mold and mildew cleaner on hand if you spot any dark stains on your deck. The washes are industrial strength and can kill any nasties lurking in your deck before they do any further damage.

3. Holes in Your Deck

It’s easy for small holes to appear in your deck. These can be from rot, nail holes, or any number of other reasons. If you leave them alone, these holes can weaken your boards and get bigger over time.

You need to fill the holes before they get worse, but what should you fill them with?

The answer is something that will flex with the wood. The best solution is wood filler. These work like epoxy resin and can flex over time.

If the holes are too big to fill with wood filler, then you’re going to need to replace the damaged board to restore your deck’s looks.

4. Wobbly Railings

Railings that wobble and are loose are never a good sign. Your deck would survive without railings, but they would be a safety hazard. The last thing you want is for them to give way as you lean against them.

Railings that are loose should not be ignored. Although you could replace your railings, this might not be necessary.

You shouldn’t use nails to hold railings against your deck. Instead, you will need half-inch carriage bolts, nuts, washers, hammers, drills, and wrenches. After drilling through the railings and into the joist, tap the carriage bolts through the holes with your hammer. You just need to tighten up the bolt and the nut.

As long as the railings are held in place like this, they will not wobble.

5. Signs of Bugs 

All kinds of deck problems can be caused by bugs. Carpenter ants and termites are the most problematic bugs. 

These are common signs of carpenter ants:

  • Wood shavings on the ground below the deck
  • Rustling noises inside the deck
  • Winged ants on the deck
  • Shed wings on your deck

These are common signs of a termite infestation:

  • Springy deck
  • When tapped, wood sounds hollow
  • Sunken wood
  • Rot
  • Rot isn’t an automatic sign of termites, but it can attract the bugs.

You need to act fast if you have any of these problems. You can prevent bugs from getting into your deck by making it as non-bug-friendly as possible.

Keep plants away from wood decks. Having plants that allow moisture and rot can attract critters. You can have plants as close to your composite deck as you like.

You should address any moisture problems as soon as you notice them. Additionally, you should seal any cracks or holes in your decking, and keep pipes and wires flush. Mulch should not touch your deck at any point.

Deck Repair Doesn’t Need to Be Hard

The maintenance of a deck is an integral part of owning one. The process isn’t difficult, but you need to conduct regular deck checks to spot any issues before they get worse. Check out Trex, TimberTech, and WearDeck rot-resistant composite and PVC decking materials if regular deck maintenance doesn’t appeal to you.

Have you got any questions about building or maintaining your deck? Feel free to contact us! We’ll do our best to assist you.

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