If you have a deck that’s several years old, you might not realize it’s become unsafe. You may ask, “is my deck in good shape?” or “is my deck repairable or is it time for an upgrade?”

Out of habit, you may step lightly or grab loose handrails gingerly to prevent them from breaking or becoming weaker. However, as the deck grows more fragile, the next step you take could lead to an injury-causing fall.

If you live in Virginia or Maryland, exposure to the elements, including rain and winter weather, may have left your deck floorboards so discolored and weather-beaten that deck cleaners and brighteners no longer make a difference. If that describes your current deck, it’s probably no longer attractive.

Decks typically require repair or replacement after several years. Prince William Home Improvement is the custom deck builder homeowners choose to replace their decks. We can visit your home, evaluate your current deck and discuss options. If you’re not sure if it’s time for a deck replacement, here are six signs you need a new deck.

1. The Deck’s Age

You can expect a wood deck to last 10 to15 years. If you purchased a home with a wood deck over 15 years ago and haven’t replaced it, it may be time. Age is a sure sign that you should replace a deck.

Another problem with older decks is that building codes change. The deck on your home may have been a do-it-yourself project. Untreated deck posts may have been placed directly into the ground without the proper footing, making them more susceptible to termites and decay.

If you live in a home and are unsure how old the deck is, you can determine the deck’s integrity by getting it inspected. A professional from PWHI can evaluate your deck and let you know whether it’s time to replace your deck.

Don’t go another day with a splintered, aged or rotted deck

PWHI is the leading deck contractor in Virginia & Maryland

2. The Deck’s Appearance and Feel

After you’ve lived with a deck for several years, wear and tear may not be evident because it occurs gradually. However, if you pay attention to the feel of your deck as you walk on it and inspect the surface boards closely, you might be surprised at what you find.

The surface of your deck may show signs of deterioration. Over time, wood deck boards begin to decay, and you might notice bouncy, soft or spongy areas. It’s not unusual for boards to warp and nail heads to stick up. Rotting wood deck boards can give way, while protruding nails and warped wood can be tripping hazards.

3. Broken or Wobbly Rails

Loose and wobbly rails can come from improper fasteners used to attach railings to deck posts. Rather than screws and nails, lag screws or bolts should be used to keep deck railings securely attached to posts. Their design enables embedding into the deck posts to create a solid hold that prevents posts and rails from loosening. Using anything less than lag screws could cause deck rails or handrails to become treacherous.

4. Deck-Destroying Pests Are Present

When you think of deck-destroying pests, termites might come to mind. Termites can wreak havoc on wood structures, but carpenter ants and carpenter beetles also contribute to the devastation of your wood deck.

Evidence of Termites and Other Pests

Termites use their powerful jaws to chew through wood, creating burrows where they live and breed. They can go unnoticed for several years, so you may not see the damage to your wood deck until it’s too late. Signs of termite infestation include springy deck boards and rippled wood.

Termite-infested boards sound hollow when you tap on them, a sign of termite tunnels. Untreated posts in direct contact with the soil under the deck give termites access to the entire deck.

Carpenter Ants

Like termites, carpenter ants are wood-destroying insects. Carpenter ants serve a purpose in nature as composters that favor organic materials, including decaying leaves, sticks and such. Organic matter near decks can attract carpenter ants.

Carpenter Bees

Like carpenter ants, carpenter bees also build their nests in the wood, weakening a deck. The creatures are also fond of untreated soft lumber.

Carpenter bees don’t eat the wood but drill holes in the surface to build their nests. Carpenter bees are so efficient at their work that they can create perfectly bored holes in the deck, leaving it unsafe.

Are you tired of creepy crawlers making a home in your deck?

Call PWHI today, so we can review your decking options!

5. The Ledger Board Is Deteriorating

The ledger board secures the deck to your house and provides support for the joists, so your entire deck is at risk if it shows signs of deterioration and wear.

Ledger boards are susceptible to wood rot and pest damage, so inspect them to ensure they’re in good condition.

Attaching the ledger board to the house should include installing flashing to protect the wall from moisture that could enter the walls due to openings from the ledger board installation.

6. The Deck Joists Are Weak

Deck joists are the wood beams that support the wood planks on your deck. The joists attach to the ledger board, creating the platform for the deck’s surface.

Weak joists can come from exposure to moisture and decaying debris that builds up between deck boards.

Failing to use enough joists and not using the proper hardware or hangers to secure joists can also cause them to fail.

The ledger board secures the deck to your house

Decks Must Meet Safety Standards

Concrete footings, deck railings and flooring must meet safety standards in most areas. Guard rail height and picket position must be such that children and adults using the deck won’t risk injury from falls or getting caught within the deck openings.

Deck Material

The decking material and design you select can reduce the risks of compromising your deck’s integrity. Many people who build new homes or seek deck replacements decide to go with composite decking created from plastic, wood fiber and other components. Composite decking can withstand the elements without vulnerability to decay and pests. With composite decking, homeowners can choose from various colors, and there’s no worry about splinters. If you desire the look of natural wood but are concerned about how long it will last, a treated wood deck can give you durability and the organic look you seek.

Seek Professional Help for Your Deck

Get professionals to build your deck and avoid the issues that come with permits and inspections. Doing it yourself without knowing your local building codes could mean wasting money and removing the structure.

As deck-building professionals, we handle the regulations, so you won’t need to worry whether your deck replacement meets local standards. Your homeowner’s association may have restrictions on the type of deck you can build. We’ll help you design a layout and work through these issues to get the deck of your dreams.

If you’re in Virginia or Maryland and need deck repair or replacement, get your free estimate today.