What You’ll Learn in this Blog:
Why Balconies are Susceptible to Damage
Types of Balcony Deck Damage
Signs of Damage
Fixing Balcony Deck Damage
Not all decks rely on footed foundations. Balcony decks protrude from a house or building with a cantilevered design. Unlike standard decks, they do not have the same type of supporting foundation underneath. You can almost describe balconies as self-supporting. They rely on columns or console brackets. Because of their support limitations, poorly installed or maintained balconies present an eminent danger. Similar to you deck, balconies also require an annual inspection. Ensure the safety of your balcony by having professionals test its strength. There are specific things to look for when evaluating the condition of your balcony. In this blog we describe the common types of balcony damage. We also include red flags to look for and suggestions for repair.
Unfortunately, most balcony damage results from improper installation. That’s right, your balcony could be doomed from the start. When a structure is not built correctly, construction defects cause trouble. For balconies, plenty of construction defects cause problems down the road. One of the most dangerous defects occurs when the balcony is not correctly connected to the building. For example, not using the right type of fasteners results in a weak attachment. Another construction defect is improper slope. To avoid water build up, slope deck flooring away from the vertical structure. Pools of water that build up damage the balcony.
Water= Enemy # 1
Water damage acts as the main culprit threatening your balcony. All balconies connect to your home or building and rely on the strength of those structures to remain safe. Which is why, water damage in the walls, windows, and doorways near a balcony are a serious concern. There are two steps taken that prevent water damage. The first is flashing. Flashings create a safe path for water that entered the building behind the finish to drain out. Flashing protects the walls supporting the balcony. Two major problems arising with balconies occur when flashing is not installed correctly, and worse, when not installed at all. In both scenarios sheathing and structural framing members get damaged.
The next water damage concern involves the wooden trim around fixtures. We access balconies through doors and sometimes windows. Or, we access through a door and the balcony also has windows. Both window and doors require casings that are often made of wood. When using wood trim, make sure to prime all sides before installation. Properly primed wood minimizes the threat of water damage. Using a PVC exterior material for window and door trim also prevents water damage.
Signs of Balcony Deck Damage
We described the most common types of balcony deck damage. The real question is, how can you tell when these problems happen to your balcony? Well, a few red flags help diagnosing the damage. One is wood swelling. The great news is, you can tell without even looking. If the balcony door or window becomes more difficult to open and shut, the wood swelled. Swelling wood suggests water damage. Loose joints and railings raise another red flag. Being that balconies typically extend from a few stories up, wiggling railings require immediate attention. Ask yourself why they are loose. Investigate the matter further by scheduling an inspection.
Our last red flag tip comes from leaking windows and doors. As a reminder, any water build up magnifies potential damage for your balcony. Leaking windows and doors suggests water build up around the fixtures. Check regularly for moisture build up in these areas.
Repairing Your Balcony
Unfortunately, if your balcony suffered from poor installation, the repairs to rebuild are costly. Construction defects always cost the home owner aggravation and lots of money. The best advice for addressing balcony damage is avoiding it altogether. Hire a reputable contractor that understands the damage susceptibility. If you purchase a home with an existing balcony, make sure the structure receives thorough inspection for safety. If you have an aging balcony and want to fix the damage, start by getting a formal inspection. Small patch jobs and DIY fixes don’t reduce the danger. For the safety of your family and guests, schedule annual inspections to ensure the strength of your balcony. If the inspector determines you need new flashing, replacement trim, or any other remedy, makes sure to contract the work right away. Delaying water damage repairs only makes the matter more severe.