Deck Repair in Fairfield County, CT: 5 Signs of Damage & Maintenance Tips
When warm weather arrives, your deck becomes your primary entertaining space. From summer barbecues to socializing with friends and family, it's the perfect place to relax and soak up the sunshine. But when regular maintenance has been neglected and Fairfield deck repair is needed, all that outdoor fun comes grinding to a halt.
Issues such as rotting boards and wobbly handrails aren't just unsightly, they're dangerous hazards for your guests to navigate around. Your porch might be in decent condition now, but routine maintenance helps avoid repairs and replacement in the future. This guide describes five warning signs that your outdoor living space needs repairs from your local Fairfield handyman, and provides some basic maintenance tips.
How Do I Know If I Need Fairfield Deck Repair?
We all know what a deck looks like when it could be knocked down by a stiff breeze, but there are many warning signs of damage that come before that point. If you know what they are, you can get professional repairs from an experienced handyman before it's too late and the structure needs to be replaced.
The team of experts at Mr. Handyman of Upper Fairfield County have performed numerous common deck repairs (and a few uncommon ones as well). This experience gives us insight into the five typical signs that your deck or porch needs repairs, and practical maintenance tips homeowners should be aware of.
1. Rotten or Splintered Boards
Do you avoid stepping on your deck in bare feet? When the paint and sealant wear off of timber that is outdoors, it's exposed to the elements. One of the first signs that it is being affected by that kind of water incursion is that the surface turns gray and weathered and starts to develop nasty splinters. If you're worried about splinters, a good sanding and a coat of sealer may do the trick. But if you're dealing with wood rot or warped, loose boards, the Fairfield deck repair strategy is going to be more complicated.
Porches, decks and any other wooden structure that is frequently exposed to rain or snow melt outdoors are particularly susceptible to wood rot. That's because wood rot is a form of decay caused by wood-eating fungi that love timber with a high moisture content. If you find an area where the timber is softened, discolored, or appears spongy, grab a screwdriver and press it against the suspicious patch. If it sinks right in with little or no resistance, that's wood rot.
There's really no way to restore rotten timber to its former solid condition, so the best way to deal with wood rot or boards that have been warped by moisture on a wood deck is to remove them and replace them with new, pressure-treated wood that is resistant to water incursion. Your handyman will then apply fresh paint or wood stain and follow it up with a coat of sealant to protect the timber from wood rot and other effects of water damage. But if the affected piece would be prohibitively difficult to remove, or the patches of rot are minor because you caught them early on, we may be able to handle Fairfield deck repair by scraping out the rotted parts and filling the holes with epoxy wood filler, then covering them with paint so the fix is invisible.
2. Wobbly Deck Railings and Weak Stairs
If your structure rises one (or more) stories from the ground, you don't need us to tell you that it's important to have a solid, safe railing in place that can prevent someone from taking an accidental tumble off the edge and seriously injuring themselves. But even if it only rises a foot or two above the ground, a railing that can't bear the weight of someone who leans against it could still cause a nasty fall—and stairs that creak or dip when you step on them are just as dangerous.
Grab hold of your railings and give them a firm shake. They shouldn't move at all. If they do, it could be an issue with loose nails or wood rot—especially where sections of railing are joined together or where sections join up to a wall or other structure. Sometimes a loose railing can be taken care of by simply re-securing joints that have come loose from too much movement, but if the wood around the nails or screws has rotted, replacement will probably be the best option.
Stairs take a lot of abuse from kids and dogs rocketing up and down them, not to mention normal wear and tear. If your stairs move or make noise when used, they need attention too. Creaking and dipping down when they're stepped on are clear signs that Fairfield deck repair services are needed to get them back in a safe, solid condition. It may be that just a few boards need replacing, but if the whole step structure is showing signs of age and deterioration, replacement makes the most sense.
3. Surface is Slimy or Caked with Grime
If you have slippery surfaces coated in a layer of algae or a crust of accumulated grime, it's more than just a cosmetic issue. It's an unsafe situation that could cause someone to slip and fall. But it's not just a hazard to people—that grime or algae build-up is causing damage to surfaces by eroding planks and boards and leaving them vulnerable to moisture damage. Grime can harbor harmful bacteria that eats away at paint and sealant. That means water can get in and raise the moisture content of the timber, and as we mentioned above, that means wood rot isn't far off. Fortunately, there's an efficient, effective Fairfield deck repair solution: Mr. Handyman's power washing services.
Professional pressure and power washing are by far the best deck cleaning methods. Picture yourself grabbing a scrub brush and bucket to clean your whole deck—it would be a back-aching, time-consuming chore, and the results still wouldn't be anywhere as good as what we can achieve with a pressure washer. You could spray it with your garden hose, but that will leave a lot of dirt behind and might not have any effect at all on algae. The "pressure" part is what makes pressure washing so highly effective and efficient. A pressure washer is capable of producing pressures that range from 750 to 3,000 psi (pounds per square inch). That's powerful enough to blast away years of caked-on grime, moss and algae growth, and even other stubborn substances that most cleaning methods can't touch, like stains on a driveway or gutter stripes on siding.
4. Paint or Stain is Peeling
Speaking of pressure washing, did you know it's the best surface preparation method when your old deck needs to be painted? It not only strips off dirt and grime, but can also remove loose paint and wood stain from a wooden or composite deck far more easily than sanding. This leaves you with a clean, smooth surface to work on. Your handyman can then apply a fresh coat of paint or deck stain, followed by covering the wood with sealant to make it water repellent.
The reason why it's so important to get Fairfield deck repair and maintenance services such as deck staining and refinishing circles right back to our old pal, wood rot. When sealant degrades or wears off over time, water seeps into wooden boards and causes them to swell up, putting pressure on paint from the underside. That makes the paint lift and peel off in strips, or flake off in chunks, leaving the wood underneath totally exposed to rot-causing moisture. The only way to avoid wood rot in any timber that is outdoors is annual or bi-annual maintenance to make sure the paint and sealant is still doing its job to protect the wood underneath. Luckily, Mr. Handyman of Upper Fairfield County can always help with seasonal deck staining—and many other kinds of annual home maintenance.
5. Grading and Drainage Issues
When you're looking for potential problems with your exterior structures, it's important to check the underside for damage as well. Over time, erosion can create grading and drainage issues that cause concrete deck footings to heave or sink. It can also wear away the soil around the posts, leaving too much of them exposed and causing serious stability problems that could lead to a collapse of the entire structure.
If you notice that the lower parts of the posts have been exposed, they need to be reburied and may need additional concrete support. Any drainage problems need professional repairs right away to prevent further structural damage. That usually involves grading the soil so the water drains away properly, though other Fairfield deck repair measures may be necessary as well to protect the posts and footings.
What Can I Do to Avoid the Need for Fairfield Deck Repair?
Now you know the warning signs that your deck or porch is in trouble, you may be wondering what you can do to prevent these problems. By far, the best way to ensure your structure remains safe season after season is to set up regular maintenance services with the pros at Mr. Handyman.
However, there are some deck maintenance steps you can take yourself that will drastically cut down the damage your deck or porch suffers throughout the year in Fairfield. Here are a few maintenance tips to keep your structure looking its best:
Twice per year, when tackling your fall and spring to-do list, head outside to give your structure a thorough check. Look at it from as many angles as possible, up close and from a distance, paying close attention to the potential trouble areas listed above. Don't neglect hard-to-reach areas like concrete footings and deck posts that are critical to stability. If you spot signs that you need Fairfield deck repair or maintenance, it's best to get it taken care of before the damage worsens and spreads.
Switch it Up
Your deck is another part of your home in Fairfield, and in the summer months, a lot of living can happen out there. It's necessary to have items like a grill, patio table and chairs, toys and other stuff out there to make it more comfortable and fun to use, and you probably have a location for those items—but always leaving them in one place can cause moisture to gather in certain places or make wear and tear damage uneven. Move items like flower planters, furniture, and play equipment around every so often to prevent discoloration and other complications that would call for Fairfield deck repair.
Mats and outdoor rugs on your deck can be an appealing addition to make the space feel more decorated and homey, but they also attract water and let it fester underneath without a chance to dry up, which can accelerate damage such as wood rot. If you really can't go without them, it's better to choose plastic materials with some ventilation over natural fibers that can hold on to moisture for a long time.
Give it Space
Leaves on trees, bushes and smaller plants naturally collect moisture, and if they're too close to your deck, they'll deposit it there and cause a problem that needs Fairfield deck repair services. Trim nearby bushes and trees so branches are at least one foot away, as any vegetation too close to your outdoor buildings and structures can encourage problems like moss, algae and wood rot.
Mr. Handyman is Your Fairfield Deck Repair Professional!
Did you need repairs for your existing deck or would you like something brand-new built from the ground up? The home improvement and repair team at Mr. Handyman of Upper Fairfield County has the skill and expertise to get Fairfield deck repair projects done right, and provide the new deck building services you need!
Whether you need a deck repair expert in Fairfield, Westport, New Canaan or the surrounding area, you can rely on Mr. Handyman. Contact us today at 866-550-1710 to speak with our friendly customer service staff and find out why we're considered Fairfield County's top choice for residential and commercial handyman service.