7 Warning Signs Of A Dangerous Deck and How To Repair Them

7 Warning Signs Of A Dangerous Deck and How To Repair Them

You might have heard about the usual “horror stories” of deck failure, and this is nowhere close to impossibility. According to InterNACHI, among 40 million existing decks, only 40% are considered safe. Each year, over two million decks are built and refurbished in North America, and one of the major reasons for deck failure is aging. It means that decks made over 20 years ago are more susceptible to structural damages. A dangerous deck affects not only the functionality and appearance of your outdoor living space but also poses tremendous hazards to you and your family’s safety. Even if you built your deck soundly, it sits outside your main house and suffers the usual wear and tear over time. Your deck supports the weight of the people and gets daily exposure to environmental conditions, snow loads, pests, or any other elements. However, homeowners don’t realize too soon that these same elements significantly impact the structural integrity of their decks. A dangerous deck is something you don’t want to have. And so, this is the perfect time to gear yourself up and evaluate the condition of your deck. As good weather and a warmer climate are in full swing; you may want to identify some warning signs that your deck is in great danger, and how you can repair them. In today’s blog, we put together the reparative solutions and the costs involved in the process. Read on to find out the effects of these warning signs. 

1. Discoloration And Fading Deck Color

Your deck is an excellent spot for special gatherings and family bonding; thus, it is so vulnerable to the effects of spilled liquid or chemical substances. Harsh soap, cleaning agent, engine oil, or cooking solution can cause usual fading and discoloration to your deck. These warning signs might seem to be a visual problem, but it signals potential hazards over time. Little did you know that these substances may cause corrosion, which can result in widespread discoloration and structural damages. Over the years, it will give your outdoor living space a withered look, making it a dangerous deck if left untreated. In addition to the spilled substances, the wooden deck naturally loses its color as it ages and accumulates more debris as time goes by. Restoring the natural feel and color of your deck is not just for the overall appearance, but it also addresses some possible damages in the long run. 

What You Need To Do

There isn’t any doubt that extensive discoloration, fading, or staining creates a massive impact on the overall appearance and integrity of your deck. The easiest solution to this problem is proper cleaning and maintenance. You don’t need to go through the whole process of deck restoration or replacement if you clean your deck routinely. It is an excellent idea to create a cleaning schedule to keep your deck in good shape and make it free from debris and discoloration. Some deck cleaning solutions or products normally cost between $10 and $30, depending on the brand. Always make sure to follow the label’s instructions and wear gloves or safety goggles when handling these substances. If discoloration or stain exacerbates, a deck refinishing contractor can help you restore your outdoor living space. Typically, staining and sealing are part of the deck restoration process. The cost of staining ranges from $1 to $5 per square foot. On the other hand, there might be an additional charge for every square foot for the sealing process, depending on the size of your deck and the complexity of the project. However, if you think that this is something you can do as a DIY project, you can choose to stain and seal your deck using popular products in the market. Just pay attention to the type of sealants and stains, so you won’t end up spending more instead. 

2. Unstable Railings And Posts

Another visible sign of a dangerous deck is the instability of railings or deck posts. Deck railings and posts should manifest no signs of movement and weakness. These deck features should be free from any water damages. If you notice any signs of loosening railings, shaky stairs, or missing pieces such as baluster or post, then it needs immediate attention. These signs are extremely dangerous as it poses safety hazards or injuries. 

What You Need To Do

The recommended solution for unstable railings, stairs, or posts is to replace or anchor these structures. It is possible to replace one or two pieces if the problem is not that extensive instead of tearing the whole deck down. Deck repair or restoration is usually the required intervention. If in case the damages are tremendously impacting the structural integrity, a deck replacement might be necessary. Depending on the complexity of the deck project, a restoration can be at a medium to high-end range. For deck railing repairs, you may expect to pay between $500 and $4000. Whereas, it may cost you roughly $100 to $300 for anchoring deck stairs. The project cost depends on the number of stairs or railings that require replacement. It is helpful to consult a local deck contractor to get better pricing and recommendation.  

3. Rotting Wood

Wood discoloration, spongy areas, and soft spots are obvious indications of a dangerous deck. These manifestations are signs of rotting wood. Factors such as humidity, water damage, changing weather conditions, or bacterial growth can cause wood to literally fall apart and destroy the structural integrity of your deck. If left unnoticed, your deck becomes weak and unsteady, leading to deck collapse. It is important to evaluate any signs of wood rot to prevent it from spreading. Any deteriorated deck boards or beams need a replacement to mitigate further damages. 

What You Need To Do

Depending on the size and gravity of the damage, as well as its weight-bearing effects, repairing rotting wood is at a low-end to a typical range. You might want to seek help from a local deck contractor to determine if you need to repair or replace the entire deck instead.  As many factors are contributing to the presence of rotting wood, it is beneficial to address the problem based on its specific causes. Hence, the right intervention comes by knowing the root causes. For example, mold or mildew build-up on decks can be removed with a thorough power washing. You can rent a power or pressure washer for $40 to $75 per day. You also need to spend roughly $10 to $30 for cleaning solutions and materials. However, if you are working with a contractor, you may expect to pay $0.25 to $1.50 per square foot for pressure washing. Some contractors may even charge you a cleaning fee. Another notorious cause of rotting wood is pest infestation. If you find any insects or termites on wooden boards or beams, contact a pest control specialist to inspect the deck and its surrounding areas before you start a deck repair project. Hiring a pest control specialist might cost you around $65 to $100. They are tasked to do the inspection and document the assessment through a report. 

4. Warped And Broken Deck Boards

Even the smallest cracks in beams and wood posts are alarming signs of a dangerous deck. Cracking and warping are very common to a wooden deck, and these develop as the wood ages. Though you may consider this as a natural phenomenon, it is never a good idea to leave these signs unrepaired. The more you have cracked or warped boards on the deck, the greater the likelihood to form more painful splinters that weaken the structural integrity of your outdoor living space. Cracking and warping lead to a potential risk of collapse, which resulted in getting a dangerous deck. The weathering effects of aging to cracked or warped boards can be prevented through proper inspection and maintenance. As much as possible, attend to any small cracks or damages immediately before it worsens and costs you more in the future. 

What You Need To Do

The reparative solution for warped or cracked deck boards is board replacement. It runs from typical to high-end range depending on the number of boards that need replacement. The price also varies depending on the size of the project, the materials to use, and the types of repair required. Some deck contractors might even charge you for carpentry services. So, it is important to negotiate on the cost before you move the project into construction. If the deck boards are unstable, replacing a few may cost you between $500 and $4000. The bare minimum cost might not even include the carpentry services, which some contractors require you to pay. In this case, you can schedule a free in-home consultation first, so you will have a better idea of how much you need to spend.  

5. Deck Water Damage

Decks are structured to handle almost anything thrown on them. However, leaving your deck exposed to outside elements for the longest time after it was initially installed and sealed would show signs of water damage. Your outdoor living space can fall victim to the damages from standing water, which is another indication of a dangerous deck. If your deck suffers from water damage, you can expect any mold or mildew infestations, missing nails, and splitting or cracking. To test your deck from water damage, sprinkle enough water onto your deck. If the water seeps into the wood and stops beading, then you need to restore your deck. Another visible sign of water damage is rust formation or corrosion on joists or screws. It is necessary to inspect the deck if it is still sound. 

What You Need To Do

The way to fix the water damage on the deck is by targeting the problem areas. You can repair rotting wood by removing and replacing the damaged boards. Corroded screws and nails can be replaced with newer ones. Just keep in mind that the cost of the project varies depending on the materials, size of the deck, and complexity of the project. 

6. Missing Or Loose Connectors

Nails, screws, and any fasteners are supporting structures to make your deck more stable and sturdier. These connectors should be intact and free from corrosion. That is why if you notice any loose or missing connectors, it is an alarming sign that you have a dangerous deck. Keep in mind that your deck is exposed to moisture or humidity, which can penetrate the screws or nails to cause rust formation. Corrosion affects the structural integrity of the deck, so it requires immediate intervention. Code normally requires metal connectors to be at key places: post to beam, ledger to structure, joist to the ledger, and joist to beam. Typically, missing connectors can be toenailed together. However, if the wood rots, you can expect that connections will not hold. This is where you need to replace rusted connectors, so the wood won’t deteriorate and affect the structural integrity of your entire deck.  

What You Need To Do

To determine if your deck needs repair or restoration, try to hammer back the screws or nails. If it does, but it cannot support the structure of your deck anymore, you need to talk to a contractor for deck repair. To ensure safety, you must replace any missing or popped screws and nails. A pound of screws will cost you approximately $5. If your deck stairs need anchoring or replacement because of loose connectors, the overall project may cost you around $100 to $300. 

7. Inadequate Railings 

If you notice that your railings can be moved over one to two inches at the top, then it is a sign that your deck needs attention. Inadequate railings affect the integrity of your entire deck and can be a serious safety hazard, so you just need to replace it before it gets worse. Normally, the code requires that the maximum space allowed between balusters should be four inches. It may vary depending on your local standards; thus, you may need to talk to a professional local deck contractor about this as well. 

What You Need To Do

If you notice any railing problems early on, your local deck contractor can repair them. However, if you are planning to do it yourself, you must remove the balusters from each section, and replace the damaged ones. Drill pilot holes at the end of each baluster and fasten with screws.  Once the damage spreads on the railings and impacts the integrity of your deck, you need to do a complete railing replacement. Make sure to consult an expert to avoid any possible mishaps along the way.  

Did You Notice Any Warning Signs Of A Dangerous Deck?

If you catch any of these problems, it’s already giving a hint that you have a dangerous deck. It only means that you need to stop using your deck and call for a thorough inspection. Whether the signs are isolated or extensive, your main goal is to evaluate your deck immediately and perform the right intervention. The most crucial step is to make sure that none of your family or your guests are in great danger while lounging on or enjoying your outdoor living space. In case that you feel uncertain about doing a thorough inspection and repairing the deck yourself, talk to a professional deck contractor near you. They are called professionals for a reason: to see things from a professional perspective and identify something that you possibly can’t at first sight. Working with a pro can guarantee that your project is done properly and accurately. It may also avoid unnecessary expenses down the road. If you would like to have your deck inspected and restored by an expert, call Deck Ready today. We love to help you achieve a sturdier and more functional deck that your family can enjoy every day.

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