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A deck with boards that are in the process of being stained during the final stages of deck repair service.

4 Signs You Need Deck Repair (Plus Tips!)

Is there anything better than hanging out on the deck in warm weather? Whether you’re hosting barbecues, taking a dip in the hot tub, or just soaking up the sunshine, your outdoor living space is the best place to spend the summer. As long as it's in good shape and meets the needs of your household, it can be one of your favorite parts of the entire property.

There’s one thing that can really put a damper on the fun—when you need deck repair in Walpole, MA. Splintery boards, wobbly railings, and popping nails are unsightly, but they’re also a dangerous hazard for your friends and family to dodge. However, spotting the places that need Walpole deck repair isn’t always easy. This helpful guide covers four signs that your deck is in need of attention, and some tips on what to do when you find damage. We'll also explain what maintenance you can do to avoid needing Walpole deck repair services in the future.

If you discover some of the signs that your deck needs serious help and you're not up to the task—or just don't have the free time—you can count on your local Walpole handyman to get the job done right. The team of multi-skilled deck repair professionals at Mr. Handyman of Central - Eastern Norfolk County & S. Shore are experienced with providing reliable handyman services in the greater Boston area. We are proud to deliver excellent workmanship and customer service on every job.

1. Boards Are Cracked

If the surface of your structure is made of lumber, it’s normal for small cracks to appear in the boards over time. While small cracks aren’t a big deal, they can turn into big cracks (and big deals) if left unchecked without Walpole deck repair services.

Take a good look at the visible surfaces of the boards, especially in high-traffic areas and areas that are most exposed to the elements. If you see cracks that are less than about six inches long and not very wide, they’re considered small. Larger cracks will be longer than six inches or may have widened significantly.

Tip: Fill Small Cracks With Epoxy

There’s a fairly easy fix for small, narrow cracks: fill them in with latex wood filler and wait for it to cure (follow the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure it’s fully dry), then apply sealant over top.

If the cracks are long but shallow and narrow, pry up the board and take a look on the other side. Back side free of cracks? Just flip it over and nail it back into place, then apply sealant. But, if the back side is cracked as well, the board will need to be replaced.

2. Paint or Stain is Peeling and Chipping

When paint or stain is peeling off the wood or chipping away, it’s generally because it wasn’t sealed properly or the sealant has eroded. It’s unattractive and leaves the wood vulnerable to splintering and rot. Getting it taken care of can really improve appearances around your property, which is why porch and deck repair is one of the handyman services guaranteed to boost curb appeal. Check places like the tops of railings and anywhere sealant has worn down for paint and stain flaking, or areas where the wood has already splintered.

Tip: Sand and Refinish Peeling Areas

If peeling and splintering is extensive and your entire deck needs to be refinished, you’re probably going to want to call in a professional handyman for Walpole deck repair—this is going to be a lot of work. A large floor sander will help, but smaller, hard-to-reach areas will need hand-sanding to remove the old finishing and get the wood smooth and primed. Another option is to get your handyman to take care of it with professional pressure washing services. A pressure washer is capable of removing loose paint easily and efficiently, leaving behind a smooth, clean surface for refinishing.

If you’ve only found a couple tiny patches of peeling, get some coarse or medium-grit sandpaper and work away at it until it’s smooth, then refinish and seal the wood to protect it from future decay.

3. Timber is Rotten

The dreaded wood rot strikes again. Wood rot is decay caused by fungal growth, and the fungus needs a moisture content of 20% or higher to take hold, so it’s not hard to understand why wood rot is often found in outdoor spaces. Any timber on the exterior of your property is constantly exposed to moisture from rain, snow melt and humidity without much of a chance to fully dry out between soakings. That explains why timber that remains dry indoors can stay solid and intact for well over 100 years, while outdoor timber needs diligent maintenance and regular refinishing to avoid rotting.

Look around your property for these signs of rotten timber that indicate you need Walpole deck repair:

  • Discoloration where patches appear lighter or darker than the surrounding area

  • Texture changes where wood looks spongy, stringy, or webbed with cracks; or is breaking into cube-shaped chunks

  • Mushrooms sprouting up (if it’s very advanced)

When you find an area that you suspect is rotten, take a screwdriver and press it against the wood. If it sinks right in with little or no resistance, you’ve got wood rot.

Tip: Replace Rotten Planks

If decay is advanced and many or all of your planks are infected with rot, give Mr. Handyman a call to come out and take a look to see if Walpole deck repair is feasible. Your deck will likely need to be replaced. It’s a good idea to check nearby parts of your home as well since the rot can spread—and some types of wood rot can travel over or through masonry.

But if only a couple planks are showing signs of rot, pry them up and replace them with new lumber. Then, treat the surrounding planks with a borate or copper wood preservative. The last couple of steps for Walpole deck repair are to apply paint or a solid stain and finish up with a good sealer that will help block out moisture.

4. Railings are Loose and Wobbly

Railings are sometimes the only thing between us and a nasty fall off the edge of the deck, so it’s important that they’re firmly in place. Grab ahold of your deck railing and give it a shake—if it moves at all, it’s in need of Walpole deck repair.

Common problem spots include areas where the railing joins up with either the house, a post, or another stretch of railing. Examine these areas carefully for nails and screws that are loosening up, and check the entire railing for signs of wood rot.

Tip: Replace Loose Nails or Screws

If pressure on your railing has caused nails and screws to loosen over time, remove the old nails or screws and replace them—but, make sure to place them in a different location on joining boards where the wood isn’t damaged.

However, if nails and screws are loose due to wood rot or nails and screws don’t seem to be the issue, have your Walpole handyman assess the situation. You may need to have your railing replaced entirely—and a new one will be much safer! While you’re getting Walpole deck repair services, you might choose to upgrade with a new design or set up some built-in seating around the perimeter of your deck.

Other Potential Walpole Deck Repair Issues

The above issues are some of the most common deck repairs we encounter in Walpole, MA, but by no means the only problems we deal with. Here are a few more Walpole deck repair scenarios that are typically best handled by an experienced home improvement professional.

Weathered, Gray Timber

When it was first installed, your deck was a beautiful shade of wood-colored brown—but after a few seasons, it's covered in gray, weathered, splintery timber. That's a sign that the paint or stain and sealant has worn off (or was never there to begin with). When wood starts graying, it's a sign that it's taking on moisture and wood rot won't be far behind. Like dealing with peeling paint, refinishing the entire structure is going to be a big job that requires a lot of sanding, so you may choose to let your Walpole deck repair handyman take care of it efficiently and effectively.

Slick or Grimy Surfaces

If it's been quite some time since your outdoor structure got a good cleaning, it's probably covered in a layer of built-up grime or slippery algae growth. While that's obviously unappealing, it's also causing more serious problems for your structure over time. Grime build-up harbors harmful bacteria that can eat away at surfaces, leaving them vulnerable to moisture incursion and other serious issues. On the other hand, it's understandable if scrubbing your deck isn't really high on your list of priorities. That's why this job is best left to a Walpole deck repair professional—we can use pressure washing services to get it cleaner than any other method possibly could, and far faster as well. Pressure washing does a fantastic job cleaning a wide range of outdoor surfaces and items, including your deck or porch and the exterior walls of your house.

Insect or Wildlife Infestations

If you've ever had to deal with an infestation of destructive insects such as carpenter ants or termites, you know exactly how much trouble those little pests are capable of creating in a short time. If left to their own devices, they can eat away at supporting beams and posts until there's basically nothing left, causing the entire structure to collapse. Or, you might have a very unwelcome visitor such as a skunk trying to make a home underneath your deck. Either way, once you've convinced the intruders to move along or had them exterminated, your Walpole deck repair handyman can replace damaged wood or block off access points to the underside of the structure so that it doesn't happen again.

Water Damage to Footings or Deck Posts

When you're looking for signs of Walpole deck repair issues, it's important to give the underside a thorough check as well, especially the posts and concrete deck footings. If you notice that the posts look more exposed than they did before or there's puddles of water forming around posts, that's a bad sign that there are grading issues and the water can't drain off properly. This definitely needs to be handled right away by a professional as it can result in a dangerous situation where the structure leans or collapses altogether.

How to Avoid the Need for Walpole Deck Repair

Looking for ways to keep your structure in excellent shape so you don't need Walpole deck repair as often? Here are some tips to protect your property against issues like wood rot and keep it sound for years to come.

  • Annual Inspection: Once or twice a year, examine as much of your structure as possible, including underneath, and look for the signs of Walpole deck repair trouble that are listed above.

  • Keep Leaves Away: Trim back trees and bushes so their moisture-laden leaves are at least a couple of feet away and won't drip on your timber.

  • Rearrange Furniture: Move patio furniture and patio fixtures such as planters around once in a while so they can't trap moisture against boards or cause uneven wear and tear.

  • Steer Clear of Rugs: Avoid using outdoor mats and rugs. If you must have them, plastic is a better choice than natural fibers that lock in moisture.

Call the Experts at Mr. Handyman to Take Care of Walpole Deck Repair!

Whether you need a few minor repairs or are looking for a total deck overhaul just in time for warm weather, the friendly team of service professionals at Mr. Handyman of Central - Eastern Norfolk County and South Shore have the expertise to create your perfect outdoor living space! We serve homeowners and business owners in Walpole and nearby areas such as Braintree, Quincy and Weymouth with quality work and reliable services, including deck installation, patio repair, siding repair, fence replacement, gutter cleaning services, wheelchair ramp installation and caulking services.

Pick up the phone and contact us today at 508-465-2092, or fill out our online request service form, and we’ll show you why we’re the best local handyman service for all your Walpole deck repair needs.