Out with the old, and in with the NEW
Part of all deck maintenance is an inspection of the boards. Wash My Deck looks for rot and decay but also severe splitting and cracking that will not come smooth with our sanding system. New boards may twist and warp within a few years but that should be covered by your deck builder. When this happens it is not because of the builder or the weather it was because how the wood was cut and milled. Thankfully this is rare.
Seasoning of new wood
Rot and decay can begin happening immediately. In 2005 the chemicals used in pressure treating changed from arsenic based to something less harmful to the environment. This change in conjunction with the use of film water based stains rather than oil based stains before has increased our board replacement service. Because deck preservatives are not as good as they used to be, I don’t recommend a seasoning period of the wood after installation.
Quality of the wood.
I typically see tighter grains and fewer knot holes in higher quality wood and more knot holes and wider wood grain in lower quality wood. The more knot holes the more space water can rest, expand and split the wood.
When should I expect to start replacing boards?
I start seeing rot and decay in random boards at about year 7. A safe guess would be to replace one to two boards per year to keep your deck safe and healthy.
the most frequently asked questions about board replacements
I get is about split supports. My response is I get concerned about rot near the foundation but splits are natural, its wood. I am not alarmed unless I can see daylight through the cracks or the deck is wobbly.
Type of deck boards.
I see 4 different types:
- 2x6 used on flooring and finer rail tops
- 5/4 used mostly on floor. Newer decks use 5/4 boards because they are cheaper. Depending on how the deck is constructed you cannot tell which boards were used.
- We see boards with two grooves down the underside of the board. These boards are high quality, they are cut a little thinner so standard 2x6 will not work. The intended purpose of the groove is to ensure the boards stay cupped and the water runs down the sides.
- Lastly, some decks are built to have a checkerboard appearance in 4 foot squares. These boards are thinner than 5/4 boards and
4 inches wide.
Both boards in example 3 and 4 require a special order. Which do you have? Call us for a Free 12 pt inspection. We will be able to show you what type of boards you need and if you need replacement.
How should deck boards be installed?
Believe it or not there is a right and wrong way to lay a board when you install it. You want the grains of the wood to actually be frown. because it naturally will cup inversely as it shrinks helping water run down the edges. If you lay it down smiling the water will pool toward the middle of the board and make it susceptible to sitting water which leads to cracking and rotting.
I’m geeking out on deck science
Under a microscope, a deck board looks like a bee hive or a sponge. From the time it is Pressure treated deck boards loose 40% of their weight after they dry out. They are loaded up with chemicals in the pressure treating process. Oil based stains would refill the voided areas and preserve the wood. 90% of all deck stains today are water based stains. They protect on the surface of the deck. It is easier to see if your stain is protection now. If you see paint it is protected, if you see wood, the stain has failed and your deck is susceptible to the elements.
When should you screw it?
When we reinstall new boards, we use only screws. It makes it easier to uninstall, they hold better which prevents future warping or twisting.
Do we tell you which boards to replace?
My perspective is that we look at over 5,000 decks per year. I see the good, bad and ugly. Your perspective is you have one deck and you either want to maintain it or afraid of the cost of replacing it. Most the time I can say to you, its not as bad as you think. I try to prioritize your board like a dentist does dental work. What needs a root canal, a crown or a filling? Then I prioritize them. We tell you this board is soft, split beyond repair, it is rotten replace it. I say this is getting bad it will probably need replacing during your next annual maintenance. You could do it now or wait. Or I will tell you its not a major concern. We always have notes in our files but the decision is entirely up to you.
Do We fill knotholes and cracks with caulk or putty.
I would NEVER do this for a semi transparent stain even clear caulk would look terrible. On solid stains where everything gets covered by a solid paint, we offer a service to caulk and putty boards. However, most of the time it is less expensive to just replace the board.
After the repairs are made will my new deck board look different than the others?
If its a solid stain, NO it will look smoother but you wont notice it unless you’re looking for it
If its a new water based semi, Not REALLY because remember new water based semi transparent stains are like watered down paint. They cover up much of the color of the wood.
If its an older oil based stain, YES. Before you could never predict what a semi transparent stain would look like after its stained because the color would change depending on the color of the decking. A cedar for example could look yellow on new wood and look brown on old wood. So imagine if you had 10 old boards (brown) and 1 new board right down the middle (yellow). Aesthetically, it was almost better not to do anything because it would take years to blend again.
What if I or someone shot into my deck like Rambo?
Sadly we see it, sometimes decks are cut into with the pressure but we can even those out with focused pressure washing. With deeper gouges we can sand and smooth out with our sanding service but that focuses on soft fibers. If the soft fibers have been shot out then all that can be done to even the appearance is replacing a board or two, hopefully not more.
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