Common Wood Decking Problems and Solutions

How to Properly Preserve and Maintain Wood Decking

By Mark J. Donovan

Your deck takes a lot of abuse from the elements. Rain, snow, and the sun can quickly work together to destroy your outside living space if left unchecked. It is extremely important to address wood decking problems as soon as they are observed. Wood decking problems left unchecked can lead to higher maintenance and home repairs costs down the road.

Wood Deck Water Sealing

After building a new wood deck it is important to quickly seal the wood deck with a stain, paint or water sealer.

Even the hardest woods can quickly begin to experience the effect of nature’s elements, such as rot, mildew, and bleaching. By applying a protective layer to your wood decking you can lock in its initial beauty and prolong the life of it.

Unfortunately a wood deck needs constant maintenance and even though you may have applied a water sealant over the decking when you initially built the deck, you will need to apply additional coats every year or two. Prior to applying a new coat of paint, stain, or deck water sealant, it is imperative that the deck be thoroughly washed and dried. Also make sure you have checked the weather forecast.

The forecast should be free of rain for a couple of days and the temperature should be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit when applying a new coat of deck water sealant or paint.

Flaking Decks

With water sealants and paint your deck could experience flaking. Prior to applying a new coat of paint or deck water sealant it is important that you remove all of the flaking paint or sealant first. Pressure washers can help make the job go quickly, but unfortunately they can damage the grain of the wood decking. Consequently it is best to use a scraper and elbow grease to remove the flaking paint. Once you have scraped off the flaking paint then lightly sand the decking prior to applying a new coat of paint or water sealant.

 Wood deck problems abound with a Mahogany deck.

Fading or Bleached Wood Decking

If your mahogany decking is looking faded or bleached out try using a wood cleaner to restore it to its original color. After restoring its original color seal it with a clear water decking sealant. Again, you will need to reseal it every year or two. Alternatively you can also apply a stain that matches the original color of the wood.

Rotting Decking

Rotting decking is associated with water problems. Either the water sealant, paint or stain has failed prematurely or you have a water source, such as a gutter, that is spilling and causing water to stand regularly on the deck. Frequent standing water on the deck can lead to rot and the infestation of carpenter ants and termites.

If there is deck rot, it is important to replace it to prevent a dangerous safety hazard. While replacing the rotted deck pieces check the deck framing underneath it to make sure it is still structurally sound.

Deck Mold and Mildew

You may also need to regularly wash your deck with a fungicide solution that can prevent and eliminate mold and mildew.

Deck Installation Bid Sheet

Decks located on the northern side of a home are frequently susceptible to mold and mildew. Likewise decks that have gutters or roofs constantly spilling onto them are susceptible to mold and mildew. Make sure that your gutters drain either through the deck down to the grown below or away from it, to cut down on moisture. If water is running directly off the roof, you may also want to consider installing gutters.

With these few basic deck maintenance tips you should be able to preserve the beauty and life of your wood decking for years to come. The most important thing to remember is that when a deck problem is observed it should be addressed quickly.

The effects of water damage can occur rapidly and can lead to higher maintenance costs later if left unchecked. Finally, keep in mind that a deck is an important asset to your home’s valuation, so it is important to keep it up not only for your own use but for future home buyers.

For help on building a deck, see’s Deck Installation Bid Sheet. The Deck Installation Bid Sheet will teach your how to hire the right deck contractor, and help to ensure that your deck project is completed on time and budget.

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