The idea of ‘built to last’ is unfortunately a concept of the past in many ways. Have you ever heard an older person say “they just don’t make them like they used to?” Fortunately, some things are still built for durability. One of them is decks. Home owners add decks to their houses for the long-term. A deck becomes an addition meant to last. So the question is, how long does a wooden deck last? There are quite a few factors affecting the lifespan of your deck. The answer varies home to home. For the purpose of answering the question, we look at average lifespans.
In this Blog You’ll Learn:
- Average Lifespan of Wood
- Lifespan Factors
- Maintenance Tips
Wood wins the popularity contest for most used decking material. Thanks to low prices, availability, and natural aesthetics, contractors more often than not build decks with wood. While we describe wood as sturdy and reliable, there are many potential threats that shorten a deck’s lifespan. Here are wood’s life-threatening challenges:
Moisture: Moisture acts as the #1 most detrimental threat to the condition of wood. Excessive moisture breeds mold and mildew. It also causes rotting over time. Decks in shady backyards take longer to dry-out after rain. This makes the deck harbor moisture longer than a sun-exposed deck.
Sunlight: While decks in total shade face the threat of moisture, decks in complete sunlight face the threat of sun damage. Excessive exposure to sun creates cracking. The sun damages the wood over time, drying out the boards until they crack.
Air Circulation: Air circulates on the top surface only with ground level decks. Air circulation promotes proper drying and reduces moisture. The foundation of ground level decks never receives enough air circulation. This presents a risk of dampness.
Power Washing: Power washing, while effective at cleaning, causes damage to the wood’s core. The abrasive nature of pressure washing pushes wood particles and moisture into the layers of wood. Trapped dirt and moisture shortens the lifespan of the wood.
Type of Material
As you may have guessed, the type of wood influences the lifespan of your deck. Starting with the most commonly used wood material, pressure treated decks last anywhere from 15-30 years, if properly maintained. Cedar has a lifespan of 25-40 years. Cedar, unlike pressure treated lumber, does not absorb moisture. This natural threat prevention allows cedar decks to last longer. Exotic woods remain in better condition throughout their lifespan if they are well preserved. Ipe for instance, lasts a lifetime. Some ipe decks last over 75 years.
Tips to Make your Deck Last Longer
Now that we covered the major threats to a wooden deck, it’s time to discuss solutions. Whether you are building a new deck or maintaining an existing one, these tips help preserve the condition for a longer life expectancy.
Prevent Moisture: When building a new deck, choose a location that is a good compromise between shade and sunlight. If your backyard is very shady, consider trimming branches, allowing sunlight to warm the deck.
Guard Against Sunlight: If your deck gets beaten down by the sun all day long, try adding a canopy covering. A contractible awning or a sail canopy work well to relieve the deck of excessive sunlight.
Guarantee Air Circulation: Make sure your deck gets airflow to all surfaces. One easy way to guarantee good airflow is to build an elevated deck. Raising the deck on posts allows air to circulate underneath.
Avoid Power Washing: Instead of using a power washer to strip stain, sand the surface. Sanding is the best way to clean and strip a wooden deck for re-staining. Reasons Why Power Washing is Harmful
Quality Stain: Applying a premium stain product protects the deck from UV rays, moisture, and regular traffic. All wooden decks require a protective coating. We recommend Super Deck solid color stain for optimal results.
Be Proactive: Make a plan to refinish your wooden deck every 5 years. Inspect your deck every year. Things change quickly with moisture build up and structural safety. With an annual safety inspection, you can take care of problems before they manifest.