I have done quite a few deck refurbishment jobs and as mentioned in a previous article it is work I would rather stay away from. However, especially in the early days, it was necessary to do these jobs to keep paying the bills. Also it has provided me with a solid understanding of what not to do when finishing or sealing a deck. Also it has allowed me to see other construction methods of other deck builders first hand. Because these decks are relatively old one can see how a certain technique has behaved over time. But sometimes it is better to leave them alone, as I have done recently, because it can be like opening a can of worms.
The first thing to consider when sealing a new deck is to assume that you will be the one who has to refurbish it when it comes to refurbishing. This way you will probably apply the best finish to it so that future maintenance jobs are easy. The article on deck finishes covers in more detail what types of finishes are available and their pros and cons. When refurbishing one needs to first establish if there is structural timber that needs to be replaced. Sometimes it can be difficult to see if this is needed until deckboards are lifted. We did a job in La Lucia where we simply replaced deckboards and once we took the deckboards off we noticed that some of the joists had been eaten by insects and rotted. Although it is unusual for balau to be attacked by insects it can happen in the sap wood or if the tree was felled while it was still young. As a client and a contractor it is best to know exactly what state all the timber is in before the quote is accepted because no-one wants to find that once they lift the first deckboard the joists are so bad that new deckboards cannot be re-attached to them. So get underneath the deck, take a screw driver and poke around and see is there is rot or degradation.
Rotten deckboards themselves are quite easy to pick up as they will normally be visible from the top and they will normally start on one end where the water has been absorbed by the end grain. As mentioned in other articles, water is absorbed by wood through the end grain largely and very little is absorbed through face or side grain. As such the wood will rot from the ends first. If a rotten deckboard is found rather replace the entire length of that deckboard as chances are it will have started rotting all the way along. Be careful to know what deckboards have been used. A 19 x 68 deckboards is so close to a 21 x 72 that with the naked eye one might miss it. But looking at it carefully you will see it is both thicker and wider (and more expensive). Measure it to make sure.
Balustrades can sometimes rot too but normally only where water tends to collect. Screw holes left open and not filled with epoxy are also areas where the boards can rot more quickly. Some decks are not worth trying to repair. I’ve seen decks with posts that have rotted off and beams and joists that have rotted. It is not worth trying to patch that as eventually the whole deck will need to be replaced. The cost of this will exceed building a new deck. Pine decks tend to rot more easily especially if they have been built using H2 CCA Treated pine. A separate article will run through the different type of CCA pine and which ones are suitable for which application.
Use the search bar on the top right to search for other related articles or see below. For a free no obligation quote on refurbishing your deck please call us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the form below.
- Reducing rot in wooden sun decks (thewoodjoint.co.za)