5 Signs You Need Deck Repair (Plus Maintenance Tips!)

For many people, the perfect part of warm weather is the opportunity to relax on the deck, socializing with friends and family, grilling up a culinary masterpiece, and enjoying the sunshine. However, when your outdoor living space needs repairs, it can really put a damper on summer fun.

Problems like rotting boards and loose handrails aren't just cosmetic issues, they're dangerous hazards for you and your guests to dodge. Issues in your outdoor space can also spread to your house, causing structural damage that requires costly repairs.

Does your deck or porch need repairs? If you know what to look for, you can have the pros at Mr. Handyman of Princeton and Robbinsville take care of any issues and restore it to its former glory just in time for barbecue season.

Can Your Deck Last Another Season?

If you suspect your backyard deck or porch needs attention, or you just want to make sure it's ready when warm weather hits, examine it closely for these five signs that it's crying out for help.

1. Rotten Boards

Of all the things on your property that are made of timber, wood decks are among the most susceptible to wood rot. That's because wood rot is a form of decay caused by wood-eating fungi that require timber to have high moisture content in order to begin growing, and outdoor surfaces are exposed to the elements—sometimes with no chance to dry out before the next dousing.

You can't avoid the rain, but you can seal your wood decking material to help it repel water damage and keep a vigilant watch for any signs of rot.

Look for these symptoms:

  • Discoloration that appears lighter or darker than the rest of the lumber, or has a white, yellow, or purplish cast
  • Texture changes where the lumber looks spongy, stringy, or webbed with cracks
  • Lumber breaking into cube-shaped chunks (called cubical fracture) or crumbling into "sawdust"

If you spot any of these signs, grab a screwdriver and press it against the suspicious area. If it sinks right in, that's definitely wood rot and you'll need replacement boards.

2. Wobbly Railings

Handrails are often the only thing standing between us and a nasty fall, but even if your porch is low to the ground, a weak railing can be dangerous if someone leans on it and it can't hold their weight. Grab your deck railings and give them a firm shake. They shouldn't move at all, so if they do it means something's wrong, and they should be repaired or replaced.

3. Weak Stairs

Whether it's children and dogs dashing up and down all day long or just typical wear and tear, deck stairs take a lot of abuse. Taking a tumble down the stairs can happen even when they're in good condition, so you don't need the added hazard of stairs that are in disrepair. When you step on them, they should not dip down or move in any way, and they shouldn't creak or groan either. Any movement or noise from your stairs is enough to warrant calling a repairman.

4. Footings are Heaving or Dropping

It's common for outdoor platform structures to be built with concrete deck footings that are sunk into the ground to safeguard against stability issues. If your porch was constructed years ago and the soil has since shifted, or the footings weren't poured deep enough, to begin with, they can crack or drop, threatening the safety and stability of the whole structure.

5. Soil Eroding Around Posts

Another important thing to check underneath your platform is the condition of the soil around the posts. Over time, changes to your landscaping, unusual weather patterns, and drainage issues can cause soil to wear away from the posts. Soil plays a role in keeping the structure steady, so if the lower part of the posts becomes exposed, the grading and drainage issues should be corrected by a professional, and the soil will need to be replaced as well.

Maintenance Tips: Keep Your Deck Looking Good Year Round

Now that you’ve learned what to look for when determining if you need repairs, you may be wondering how you can help to avoid these issues in the future. Here are six regular maintenance tips that can help you keep your deck in excellent condition for years to come.

Semi-annual check: Twice per year in the spring and fall, complete a thorough deck inspection to check for all the signs listed above. Don't neglect hard-to-reach areas — like footings and posts — that are critical to the stability of the structure.

Switch it up: Move items like potted plants, furniture, and toys to a new location periodically to avoid discoloration and moisture damage.

No rugs, please: Avoid mats and rugs on your deck that attract water and cause the wood underneath to rot. If you need them, synthetic materials such as plastic are better than natural materials like fabric.

Give it space: Trim nearby trees and bushes to keep branches at least a foot away. This helps avoid moss, mildew, and wood rot.

Bath time: Annual or semi-annual pressure washing will remove dirt, bacteria, moss, algae, and another unwelcome build-up that can eat away at timber. Mr. Handyman provides professional pressure washing services in Princeton and surrounding areas. High-pressure water blasting is also an excellent way to prime surfaces for renovation by removing loose paint or wood stains and providing a smooth, clean surface to work with.

Paint, stain, seal: Speaking of priming surfaces, a fresh coat of paint or wood stain followed by a coat of sealer are deck repair applications that can do a lot to keep your outdoor areas free of wood rot, splinters, and cracks, especially if you notice peeling paint or flaking deck stain.

Trust Mr. Handyman to Get Your Deck in Summer-Ready Condition!

Ready to get your deck repair project underway so Mr. Handyman of Princeton and Robbinsville can transform your outdoor living space into your dream deck? Our deck repair professionals have the skill and hands-on experience to provide a wide range of handyman services that can enhance your home.

Give us a call today or request service online to find out more about what we can do for you and your house!