Your deck is a cherished summer space – a place to relax outdoors and to entertain friends. So it's important to keep your deck sturdy and in good shape. A sagging deck or a loose deck railing can be an annoyance, and it can quickly turn into a safety hazard. If you're looking to correct deck problems in your home, read on –
First, inspect your deck –
* Checking for wobbly, weak, or rotted posts
* Look for missing nails and fasteners
If your deck has either of these problems, you may need to complete the following quick fixes:
1.) If the ledger board is missing lag screws, the deck isn't correctly attached to the house.
The ledger board holds the deck against the house. (A ledger board that has been fastened with nails won't cut it here.) If the ledger board is loose or fastened improperly, the deck may detach and fall. For a secure connection, drill lag screws (1/2-inch x 3-inch size) into the ledger board – spaced 16 inches apart. Using a drill and socket adapter, drive the lag screws. Every lag screw should have a washer. No countersinking is necessary.
2.) The joist hanger has missing nails, or the wrong nails were used.
Inexperienced deck builders may drive a couple of nails into the joist hanger and then forget to add the rest. A loose joist hanger will eventually pull loose from the ledger board or rim joist.
Make sure to fill all holes in deck joist hangers, and use only joist hanger nails. Why? Joist hanger nails are –
* Specially designed to hold joist hangers securely in place
* Have a thicker head and body
* Galvanized – made to resist corrosion caused by treated lumber
If you find other nail types, replace them with joist hanger nails.
3.) Weak post connections caused by missing carriage bolts
A correctly installed post should sit directly under the rim joist. If the deck posts are fastened to the side of the beams with nails, this should be remedied.
To secure the deck with 1/2-inch galvanized carriage bolts –
Determine the proper bolt length by measuring the thickness of the post and rim joist. Add these numbers together and purchase bolts that are at least 1-inch longer than your measurement. Install the carriage bolts –
1. With a drill and a 1/2-inch bit, drill two 1/2-inch holes through the rim joist and post.
2. Using a hammer, tap the bolts into the holes
3. Add a washer and a nut on the opposite side
Fixing a loose deck railing post –
A guest or family member that unknowingly leans against a loose post may fall. Posts attached to the deck with nails will eventually loosen. Fix a wobbly railing with carriage bolts. Measure the width of the post and rim joist with a tape measure. Purchase 1/2-inch galvanized carriage bolts that are the measured width, plus 1-inch. Each carriage bolt will also need a washer and nut. Drill two 1/2-inch holes through the railing post and rim joist. Drill one hole approximately 1-1/2-inch from the top of the joist, and the other the same 1-1/2-inch measurement from the bottom. Hammer in the carriage bolts in – add the washer and nut –tighten the bolt until the top is flush with the post.
Fixing a shaky deck –
A deck that moves slightly when you walk across it may put additional stress on the connectors. For example, joists can pull loose from the rim joists which will weaken the deck. Adding a wood diagonal brace or two will fix the wobbles. Nail a treated 2 x 4, diagonally under the deck – angling it from corner to corner. Hammer two 16-inch diameter galvanized nails through the brace and into the joist. Trim any overhang flush with the outside edge of the deck.
For detailed information on fixing deck problems, visit here.
If you're still unsure if your deck is safe after completing the fixes above, have a local building inspector check your deck.
Mold and Mildew Deck Problems
Decks that are on the shady, north side of a home are especially susceptible to mildew and mold growth. And a deck that collects water on the surface from roofing or gutters will also develop mold and mildew. Mold and mildew can be recognized as a green or black growth on the deck. To correct deck problems, ensure that your gutters drain water away from the deck and to the ground. If you do not have gutters, consider adding them. Damage from mold and mildew can develop quickly. This can lead to higher maintenance costs later if not addressed.
Clean your wood or composite deck of unsightly mold and mildew with Wet & Forget Outdoor concentrate. Here's how:
1. Choose a day that will be rain-free and temps warmer than 32 degrees F. This will allow Wet & Forget Outdoor to work during the required 4-6 hour drying time.
2. Mix a solution of Wet & Forget Outdoor and water – 1 part Wet & Forget Outdoor to 5 parts water.
3. Add the solution to a pump garden sprayer
4. Just spray your deck – no scrubbing, power washing or rinsing is required!
For larger decks, the new Wet & Forget Hose End is a great option. Simply connect the bottle to your hose, attach the fan tip, turn the sprayer on and saturate your deck. For more info on the new Wet & Forget Hose End click here.
The Wet & Forget concentrate and the Wet & Forget hose end both work with the weather to gently remove mold and mildew. The result – a clean, stain-free deck. Once your deck is clean, a yearly spraying is all you need to keep your deck looking great.
Note: If you live in a humid climate, you may need to apply the solution more often. Spray Wet & Forget Outdoor at the first sign of mold or mildew growth.
As a homeowner, it's easy to correct deck problems with these basic repair tips. If you notice issues, be sure to address them quickly. You'll enjoy your deck more and extend its life for the years ahead. Remember – your deck is only as strong as its weakest connection.
For more deck care tips click here.