Deck Safety: Split and Decayed Boards

Splits and decayed deck boards need to be replaced immediately to keep anyone from getting hurt.

Split and decayed deck boards need to be replaced immediately to keep anyone from getting hurt.

Summer is here which means now is a good time to inspect your deck! Winter brought snow, rain, and ice. When all that moisture sits on old plastic or wood decking, it will soak in, eventually causing splitting or decaying boards.

When you inspect your deck it’s important to not miss anything. This includes the ledger board, support posts, joists, deck boards, railings, and even stairs. The ledger board is where decks fail the majority of the time. This is why it’s important to check it. The flashing should be in good condition. Check for mold and loose fasteners. If the ledger seems to be intact, just make sure the fasteners are tightened as well. Puncturing the wood with a screwdriver or ice pick is a great way to see if you have deck board rot.

Check for rotted posts. When posts rot, they can’t support weight. If there are any signs of rot or mold, replace the post immediately. Check that all the post connections to the foundation are secure and no soft wood is present.

Getting underneath your deck is extremely important. It’s easy to overlook and may be a bit tricky, but with a few extra steps you can rest assured knowing you inspected every inch of your deck. If your decking is on the ground, remove a few boards so you can see underneath. Take a screwdriver and poke the joists and the underside of the deck boards. If the screwdriver penetrates the wood easily, replace the boards. Replace joists as needed.

Walk around your deck and inspect each and every deck board, including the stairs, by penetrating with a screwdriver. If the screwdriver goes through, replace those boards. If any fasteners are loose, tighten them. Loose fasteners give moisture the opportunity to enter the deck board and cause rot.

Inspect all railings for water damage. If any rot or decay is present, replace the damaged balusters.

If you happen to see any split decking, replace those boards. Small cracks can be sanded down and resealed, but if there happens to be a large split on a deck board, be safe and replace the board.

In just a short time, you’ll know if any repairs are necessary, and you’ll feel good that you’ve taken the necessary steps to have a safe deck. Don’t rush through the process, and contact a local licensed contractor if you are unsure what to look for.


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