Your deck is outside in the elements 365 days of the year, so it is a no brainer than you want to protect your investment. According to Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report, the return on a deck is around 73%.
Wooden decks should be cleaned and sealed on a annual basis and artificial decks should be washed every year. The structural aspects should also be checked up on once a year. Now that we have entered the summer season, this is what you should be doing this time of year to maintain your deck’s durability:
Now that rainy days should be behind us for a while, it is a good time to inspect your deck’s structure that is close to the ground or water sources (especially the stairs). These are the places where you should check for possible rotting. To check, take a regular screw driver and prod it around areas that meet the ground. If the screw driver sticks 1/4 inch or more into the wood, that means it is probably rotten.
Rotten areas that are a little bit bigger than a quarter can be removed with a chisel and then treated with a wood preservative, but larger areas might require replacing the wood. On the surface of the deck look for cracked or rotten boards. Not all cracked boards are a structural threat, but it is best to replace them to be on the safe side.
Next, you should check underneath your deck if it is accessible. Bring a flashlight to inspect the beams, posts and joists. If anything is rotten and can not be easily replaced, reinforce it with a splint of pressure-treated lumber. Really inspect the ledger, which is the piece of framing that attaches your deck to your house with lag screws. 90% of collapsed decks are a result in a damaged or improper ledger. However, if your deck has beams and posts a few feet from the house, your deck is free-standing and doesn’t have a ledger.
The metal piece that covers the ledger, called the flashing, should be hole and rust free, as it is there to protect your home from moisture. Check that all of the hardware is also rust free and replace any that have serious rust.
Lastly, test out your railing (if you have one) by giving it a hard shake. Loose areas can be fixed by drilling pilot holes and adding galvanized lag screws. Look for cracks around fasteners like nails or screws. If you see any, remove the fastener and seal the crack with an exterior adhesive. Drill a new pilot hole and add the new galvanized screw.