Fixing A Deck: How Can You Tell Which Wood Needs To Be Replaced?

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When fixing a deck, it's important to examine all the wood above and below the surface of the deck to find out which pieces need to be replaced. As you look for wood that needs to be replaced, you'll need to know how identify the warning signs that indicate wood is no longer structurally sound. This will help you make your deck safe for your family.

How can you tell which wood needs to be replaced if you're fixing a deck?

When looking for rotten wood, look for visual cues like:

  • Splinters. Wood that has started to rot can literally come apart in little pieces that form splinters. 
  • Whitish-gray, dry looking wood. Wood that is affected by dry rot will be light-colored: either gray, whitish or yellowish.
  • Dark, stained wood. In wet climates, wood that is affected by wet rot may take on a dark stained color. If the supporting beams of your deck aren't made of treated lumber and they come into direct contact with the ground, you may very well see this dark stained color at the base of the supporting beams.
  • Warped boards. Rot happens when water penetrates the boards of your deck. This can also cause the boards to become warped.

If you see any boards of your deck that have any of these visual warning signs, you can check the wood by poking it with a heavy screwdriver or another form of heavy, pokey tool, like an awl. If the tool penetrates the wood easily without much force or pressure, this means that the wood is rotten. Wood should not feel soft or be easy to gouge. Any wood that is rotten needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

What kind of wood should you use to replace your old decking?

Use pressure treated wood to replace any posts and structural elements in your decking. Pressure treated wood contains a preservative that will help it stay stable and resist water for a long time. Look for lumber that indicates it's suitable for ground contact on the label.

For the top of your deck, you'll want to use the same type of lumber that was used previously. Bring an example of a piece of your decking to the lumber companies when you buy your wood replacement. A representative from the lumber company can help you decide which type of wood best matches the old material that your deck was made from previously.

For more information, contact a customer service representative at your lumber company.

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21 November 2015

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