September 30, 2023
Since it’s an outdoor structure, your deck is exposed to harsh weather conditions year-round, from the extreme summer heat and frigid winter weather to gallons of rainfall in spring and fall. Whenever you hide in the cozy protection of your home, your deck is exposed to and has to deal with the elements outside.
And that’s without even mentioning the constant foot traffic most decks experience. And whether it’s a traditional attached deck or a floating deck in your yard, it will eventually start decaying. But since this is a gradual process, it can sometimes be difficult to tell whether your deck is ready for replacement or needs extra care. Let’s go through some of the most common signs. It’s time to replace your deck so that you can make the right decision when the time comes.
Excessive amounts of wood rot
The first time to look out for is an excessive amount of rotten wood in the structure of your deck. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to check for wood rot. In our experience, this is best done with a screwdriver, but you can also just use your finger.
All you have to do is walk around your deck and look for potential rotten spots. Once you see a spot that feels softer or is prone to water pooling, tap it with the screwdriver. If the wood feels soft, and the taps sound more muted and “mushy” compared to other deck boards, you can be almost certain that you found rotten wood.
An important thing to note is that finding one or two rotten deck boards is not enough to necessitate a full deck replacement. If the rest of your deck is in good shape, it’s probably enough to replace the problematic boards. However, if the majority of your deck is covered in rotten wood or if you notice rot in structural components and support beams, it’s time to replace your deck.
Noticeably loose railings
Loose railings can be a severe problem for your deck. While they might not be a crucial structural part of the deck, they are vital for safety. Especially if your deck is elevated from the ground or you have kids in the home. Luckily wobbly railings don’t necessarily mean that you have to replace your deck.
If the damage doesn’t go deeper than loosened screws, you can probably just get away with tightening it up and adding some fasteners. However, loose railings can be an easily noticeable warning that you should start looking out for other signs it’s time to replace your deck. This is because they are usually the result of rotting wood, rusted components, or general aging of your deck.
If you notice that tightening screws isn’t helping and the damage to the deck goes deeper than just railing wobble, it’s time to contact professionals to check it out before someone gets hurt.
The majority of the boards are visibly warped or cracked
Every material starts to wear at some point. Even highly durable hardwood deck boards, which usually last decades, will eventually start to show signs of aging. Warping, splitting, and cracking are the most common signs of aging materials. You should always passively be on the lookout for them. But, similar to some other things on this list, you have to be smart about this.
If you notice that a few boards have weathered with age, but your home has a giant wraparound deck, there’s no need to replace the whole thing. Experts from USA Moving Reviews recommend always having at least if you spare boards of the same wood and a few cans of sealant and stain for more minor repairs. However, once your deck reaches a point where no cleaning and coats of sealant can bring it back to life, it’s time to start with a replacement.
Faulty joists and beams
The joists and beams are your deck’s most crucial structural components. They represent all the boards that create structural support for your deck and comprise the platform underneath the walkable part of the deck. Severe damages to these components are clear signs it’s time to replace your deck.
Generally, you can tell this by checking them for rot. Additionally, you can check whether the deck has moved or shifted off of them.
You can also get in touch with professionals to estimate this for you. If you notice any damage, ensure no one walks on the deck until you fix or replace it. Since these essentially make up the foundation of your deck, it can be perilous to use them when they are not “working” properly.
Fixing joists and beams requires you to take apart your entire deck. This usually requires more time, work, and money than it’s worth. That’s why most people opt for replacing the deck in its entirety.
Nails and screws don’t hold
One of the most easily noticeable signs it’s time to replace your deck that nails and screws holding it together are starting to pop up. At first, this usually seems like an easy fix, and people just try to hammer or screw them back in. However, if you notice that they are starting to pop up again soon after doing that, you can be sure that there are underlying issues with your deck. In most cases, it’s a clear sign that the wood is starting to give and that you must replace it.
Molds and mildews
Finally, let’s discuss growths on your deck. Since it’s constantly exposed to the elements, a certain amount of mold and mildew will be present. Since it’s outside, it shouldn’t cause too much of a respiratory problem and is usually just an aesthetic issue. However, if you notice significant growths and perhaps even an unpleasant odor, you might have a more serious problem at hand.
The first time around, we recommend treating the wood with a fungicide stain and deep cleaning. However, if the issue persists and the growths keep coming back in large amounts, it’s time to replace your deck.
Every deck has its lifespan. As a homeowner, you should always be on the lookout for some of the more evident signs it’s time to replace your deck. Getting to know your local deck and patio service providers can significantly help. Experienced professionals can adequately determine whether your deck is currently in need of repair or replacement.
But, if you are left to your own devices, consider long-term budgeting. If the damage seems serious, repairs usually just buy you time. They may even end up costing you even more money in the long term.