Rot is a deck owner’s worst enemy. Once a deck starts rotting, the stability of the entire structure can be compromised, and rot can even start to spread to your home. In order to avoid having to completely tear out your deck and build a new one, you should be checking regularly for signs of rot and water damage. Here’s what you need to know about decks and rot repair.
How to Check for Signs of Rotting
How do you know if your deck is rotting? Rot begins with moisture, so if you can find signs of excessive moisture, you can find signs of rot. Rot sometimes makes itself known through discolouration, but it can also lie undetected below the surface of your decking material. The best way to determine if a piece of wood is rotting is to use a screwdriver to check for soft spots. If the wood starts to break apart, that means it’s rotting.
The Importance of Rot Repair
Most of the time, rot will be found where the deck is attached to the house, and will be caused by poor drainage. That means that in most cases, deck rot can also lead to house rot. This is an issue you definitely want to avoid, so be sure to check regularly for signs of rotting. If you catch a rot issue early enough, you may be able to get away with simply repairing the rotten area. But if you let the problem get out of hand, you might end up having to replace your entire deck, or worse, having to repair parts of your house itself.
Fixing a Small Rot Problem
The key to dealing with deck rot is to catch the issue as early as possible. If you find a small area of your deck that’s rotting, you can simply dig out the rot and re-fill the wood. You can do this by scraping the rot with a large screwdriver, then re-filling the area with wood putty. After the putty dries, you can sand it down and stain it to match the rest of the deck.
Fixing a Large Rot Problem
If the rot problem has spread to a larger area of your decking surface, you’ll have to tear out the rotten wood and replace it with fresh material. One tip for making your new material match the rest of the deck is to scrub the wood with water and baking soda. This should give the new wood a weathered look, similar to the rest of your deck.
Once you’ve repaired the rot issue on your deck, your work still isn’t finished. In order to avoid future problems with rot, you’ll need to deal with whatever initially caused the problem. If poorly installed flashing caused the problem, then you’ll have to re-install the flashing in a way that prevents water from building up. Ultimately, the goal is not just to provide a one-time solution to your rot issue, but also to prevent your deck from ever rotting again.