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5 Signs You Need Deck Repair (Plus Improvement Ideas!)

Is there anything better than a late summer barbecue out on your deck? From socializing with friends and family to just watching the sunset, it's something we look forward to year-round. But when you're in need of deck repair, it can really put a damper on warm weather fun.

Rotting deck boards, loose handrails, and crumbling stairs aren't just cosmetic issues, they're hazards for your guests to dodge. But how do you know if you need deck repair or if it's good to go for another season? There are five signs that indicate your deck is in desperate need of repairs and maintenance. Mr. Handyman of West Knoxville can tell you all about them, plus all the improvements that you can complete for your deck or patio.

1. Rotten Wood

While all wood has potential to decay, deck timbers are particularly vulnerable to wood rot. That's because wood rot is a form of decay caused by wood-eating fungi that need a high moisture content in order to begin growing, and decks are always exposed to the elements with little opportunity to dry out between frequent soaks.

To check for wood rot, look closely for these signs:

  • Discoloration where timber appears darker or lighter than surrounding material, or has a white, yellow, or purplish hue

  • Texture changes that cause wood to appear spongy, stringy, or webbed with cracks

  • Timber breaking into cube-shaped chunks (called cubical fracture) or crumbling into "sawdust"

  • In very advanced cases, there may be mushrooms sprouting from wood

Spot a suspicious patch? Grab a screwdriver and press it against the area. If it sinks right in with little or no resistance, you've got wood rot and that timber will need to be replaced. After new boards are installed, a fresh coat of paint followed by a coat of sealer will help protect new timber from rotting.

2. Wobbly Railings

Handrails are often the only thing standing between us and a nasty fall. Even if your porch is low to the ground, loose railings are a safety issue if someone leans against them and they can't support the weight. Grab ahold of the railing and give it a firm shake. It shouldn't budge an inch, so if it does wobble when you shake it then it's definitely in need of repair. The issue could be related to wood rot, or it could just be a matter of re-securing the railing where it's fastened to a wall or other sections.

3. Weak Stairs

Whether you've got children and dogs dashing up and down all day long or they've just taken normal wear and tear over time, stairs suffer a lot of abuse. It's easy enough to take a tumble when your stairs are in good condition, so you don't need the added hazard of stairs that are in a state of disrepair. If they dip down or creak when you step on them, or you've noticed signs of dreaded wood rot, they should be replaced for safety reasons.

4. Surface is Slimy or Caked with Grime

If your deck, porch, or patio is covered in a layer of slick algae or moss, or just caked with years of built-up dirt and grime, it needs a thorough cleaning. It's not just that you could slip and fall on a slick surface, it's also a matter of maintaining the materials underneath, which can be eroded by dirt and harmful bacteria.

Fortunately, there's a simple, effective solution that can be a part of your regular maintenance schedule: pressure washing services from Mr. Handyman. Pressure washing has many benefits that you can take advantage of. We scour away dirt, grime, and even peeling paint or wood stain quickly and efficiently, leaving a clean, perfectly primed surface that can then be refinished.

5. Grading and Drainage Issues

When you're poking around looking for potential problems, it's important to check the underside for damage as well. Take a good look at concrete footings for signs of heaving or dropping, and make sure the soil around posts hasn't eroded. If your landscaping has been altered or the ground wasn't properly graded to begin with, pooling water can wash away soil from posts or crack concrete footings, compromising the whole platform’s stability. Any issues with grading and drainage need attention from a professional before they cause worse damage.

Ideas for Improving Your Deck

Now you know some signs that your deck needs repair, but it doesn't have to be all about maintenance and fixing problems. What about enhancing your outdoor living space? The right improvements could tailor it to perfectly suit your needs and wants, not to mention make it the envy of the entire neighborhood.

Here are a few ideas to inspire big dreams:

  • Add a sunroom or screened-in porch to keep bugs out and let fresh breezes in.

  • Mount a television on your exterior wall so you can watch the game while you grill dinner.

  • Install built-in seating around the perimeter of the deck so you don't have to fight over the last available lawn chair.

  • Indulge your green thumb with custom planter boxes or built-in flowerpots.

  • Put in a countertop and cabinets next to the grill for an outdoor kitchen area.

  • Build a gazebo and connect it to the deck with a raised wooden walkway.

  • Design a multi-level deck that serves your entire home or has separate areas for eating, recreation, and relaxation.

  • Install a roll-back canopy so you have the choice of enjoying the sunshine or being made in the shade.

We Are West Knoxville's Local Deck Repair Professionals!

Whether you need a few maintenance tasks taken care of, are looking for a full-depth deck repair, or want to have a brand-new deck constructed from the ground up, the team at Mr. Handyman of West Knoxville is up to the task.

Give us a call at 865-409-0822 or request service online to get started on transforming your deck into the ideal outdoor living space.