If you don’t implement protective and preventative measures, your deck’s infrastructure will lose stability within 10 years. The only way to prolong the security and beauty of your outdoor deck is to take all the appropriate steps to sustain the foundation.
The Danger of Water Damage to Your Wooden Deck
Water is the greatest threat to wood. Water often gets in through deck board gaps and screw holes toward the structural area. As a result, the deck’s foundation will begin decaying long before you see any damage. Decks can start rotting and splitting 8–10 years after installation if not managed.
Over time, moisture gets into your beams and joists. It sits on the wood and proceeds to soften the compounds. Screws rust and the wood breaks down imperceptibly. Damage quickens in hot, humid climates.
Your deck boards may appear strong and beautiful while the foundation crumbles. You can help the deck last longer and protect it from deterioration with butyl flashing tape.
What Is Butyl Tape?
A lot of rubber adhesives are thermoplastic. Exposure to high heat softens thermoplastics and decreases their effectiveness.
Butyl tape is a synthetic rubber adhesive. It doesn’t come from a rubber tree but from a lab-formulated compound. The application is a go-to for structures that require airtight bonding. In addition, butyl products are less temperature sensitive. As a result, they remain stable under varying temperatures that would impact natural rubber adhesives.
Its advantages include:
- An aggressive grip on contact
- A high level of adhesion as it bonds to a variety of surfaces
- Less expensive compared to acrylic options
- Impermeability to air
- Waterproof elements that keep moisture out
Being Proactive During the Build
The first step in protecting your deck begins with its construction. You want to apply high-quality butyl tape during construction that safely and securely seals the wood. Butyl flashing is a go-to solution with many contractors. It’s easy to apply and is the most reliable way to safeguard deck foundations.
The tape is usually applied to vertical and horizontal surfaces as a cap. That allows the wood to breathe. Most importantly, the implementation keeps water out of the crevices in the boards and keeps screws tight and dry.
The ledger board is the critical link between the house and deck. This will give you a solid wall flash to keep the water out of any potential gaps between the deck and house. In addition, the butyl tape will seal the joint and prevent water from damaging the deck and its joints.
What If You Have an Existing Deck?
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, somewhere around 6,000 people experience deck failure each year.
Having the deck inspected by a professional for damage is a good idea. But, unfortunately, all the DIY solutions in the world won’t help if your deck is already victim to loose fasteners, rotted wood, or shaky railings.
A professional will find signs of defect or potential defect that may turn into issues over the long term.
Protect the Deck
Let’s cover a few things you can do to protect your deck foundation. DIY maintenance is a mere three-step process: inspect, clean, and seal. It’s a thorough process that’s only required once or twice a year and will extend the life of your deck for seasons.
Keeping It Clean
Moisture is your deck’s mortal enemy. Do not allow moisture to sit on the boards. Anything that holds water should be picked up and moved regularly. That includes rugs or mats that need to dry out. Keep potted plants on shelves, risers, or tables. If growing vines or other vegetation are growing, trim them along the trellises. This act avoids damage that may result if the growth touches the wood deck. Also, clean off debris such as leaves and other items that trap moisture
Thoroughly clean your deck at least twice a year. Get a scrub brush, soap, and water and perform the following steps.
- Clear the area of furnishings
- Clean up any debris, dirt, or leaves
- Use a cleaner you’ve tested that won’t leave streaks or stains
- Once finished, rinse carefully to avoid film
- Before returning furniture, let the deck dry completely
Be careful when using a power washer. In the wrong hands, the pressure will cause surfaces to splinter. If you already have splinters, using a pressure device will worsen your deck.
Use a Sealant
You want to apply a sealant every couple of years. The benefits are maintaining the wood’s original color, preventing mildew and fungus growth, and having a preventative measure against rot.
The impact from weather and foot traffic is less when you re-seal. There’s a simple DIY test to know if you have a proper seal. Please take a few drops of water and place them on the boards. See if the water sits on top or if they quickly sink in. If sealed well, the water will bead up. If they don’t, you likely need a sealant.
Top boards are better when you use a stain or sealer to make them safer from water destruction. Stains should be opaque or semi-translucent for best results. Deck stain solutions usually contain a sealer. Sealers should always be translucent.
This process is a big production. You want to produce a smooth, even application. For outstanding results, it’s best to let a professional tackle the project. They will finish the project quickly and have you back enjoying your deck in no time.
If you have composite decking, it won’t need sealing. Composite is a building material that looks like natural wood. You never need to seal or stain it. There is no worry about managing a rotting infrastructure.
But this one worry doesn’t mean your composite deck won’t need regular care. Debris, dirt, and mold can accumulate on the surface or inside the indentations of grooves.
The deck needs one or two strong cleanings a year with water and dish soap mixture or a composite deck cleaner. If you spot mold, mildew, or any other growth, use a soft-bristle brush to eliminate it. Having a contractor inspect the entire structure might be a good idea.
Follow this plan to keep your deck strong and secure. This will enable you to enjoy your deck for years, knowing that you have protected it from water damage.