You’ve heard of aging in dog years, but have you heard of aging in deck years? The average medium-sized dog has a lifespan of about 11 years, whereas the typical pressure-treated wooden deck lasts only about a decade with regular maintenance. Parting with an old deck may be difficult, but oftentimes there is no alternative. In addition to being unsightly, rotted or structurally unsound decking can pose a hazard to your family and guests.
However, there are times when you can delay a full deck replacement and get away with deck repairs. The important thing is knowing where — and when — to draw the line.
Decking problem areas
Your deck has two archnemeses — moisture and ultraviolet radiation. Over time, moisture seeps into seams and corners and degrades the deck’s structure. UV rays warp and fade those surfaces most exposed to sunlight. There are a handful of areas that take the greatest beating and these are those that need closely examined and inspected annually for a loss of integrity.
- The deck surface — the deck boards take the brunt of the abuse. They are walked on, stamped on, shined on, rained on, and snowed on. Because of this, surface components will need to be swapped out more frequently. Even if the deck’s substructure is still sound at the moment, it won’t be if routine repairs and maintenance are neglected.
- Posts — Because deck posts and balusters are vertically standing, they slough away water more efficiently and don’t receive quite as much sun exposure. However, water can collect in places where posts adjoin to other parts of the deck, such as support beams and foundation. Water damage in those joints can cause the post to become loose and wobbly, jeopardizing the safety of those who would lean against them.
- Beams and joists — Beams are the main horizontal support structure for the overlying deck surface, with the joists running between them. Be wary of rot at the end where the beams and joists meet one another or the framing; these little crevices are notorious for trapping moisture.
- Fascia board — this framing element wraps around the deck’s perimeter for a cleaner appearance. It also can hug moisture tight against the load-bearing boards behind it.
- Ledger — this is where the deck attaches to the house; it goes without saying that the deck pulling away or detaching from the house is a telltale sign that a full deck replacement is needed.
Deck repair for localized issues
If damage or wear is confined to a small area and the deck is not too advanced in age, one can usually proceed with a deck repair. Pressure-treated lumber should be sealed and restained at regular intervals; surface boards that are past their prime should be pulled up and replaced. Generally, if an area of rot is the size of a thumb or smaller, it can be scooped away and plugged with a wood preservative to slow further decay. Otherwise, that component should be replaced.
Deck replacement for structural deficiencies
Structural failures should be treated seriously and professionally — deck-related injuries and deaths occur by the hundreds annually. Any load-bearing or anchoring structure should remain solid and secure for the lifespan of deck usage. If not, a deck replacement is likely in order. Probing around adjoining elements and the foundation before enjoying your deck for the season is a must. A professional inspector will be better equipped to spot these issues and advise you on further action.
Deck repair costs vs. deck replacement cost
According to data collected by homeadvisor.com, the national average cost for deck repairs is approximately $1,700, while the average cost of replacing or installing a new deck is around $7,200. Of course, these figures vary widely based on the size of the project (for instance, a deck that is 500 square feet or more averages $24,000), the materials used (you’ll pay more upfront for composite decking materials), the complexity of the design features, and the amount of labor required.
Play with a full deck from Ayars
It’s no surprise that the better the decking materials and installation, the greater its longevity. Whether you’re scrapping and replacing an old deck or starting from scratch with a new deck or porch, Ayars Complete Home Improvements’ quality constructions will set you up to enjoy these extensions of your home for years to come.