One part of a home inspection that homebuyers often overlook, and is a potentially big-ticket item, are the wood porches and decks of their prospective new home. If not built or maintained properly, they can even be dangerous. While decks provide a relaxing outdoor retreat, they are not exempt from the famous Seattle weather we experience here. Untreated and neglected wood that is exposed to the elements can deteriorate very quickly. Here are 5 signs that indicate your deck needs to be retreated with a stain or sealant.
1. Poor Water Resistance. Give it the water resistance test. Simply pour a cup of water on the deck. If the water absorbs into the wood rather than beading on the surface, it’s time to give it a treatment.
2. Rough Texture. UV sunlight and moisture can cause the natural glue in the wood (lignin) to wear away, allowing the wood to split and splinter. If your deck no longer feels smooth to your hands and feet, it’s a good sign that it’s becoming vulnerable to the elements and should be resealed.
3. Bubbling Sealant. Sealant that is bubbling or cracking will begin to flake off and no longer provide protection for the wood. If you notice these bubbles in the sealant, the deck should be stripped and resealed or stained.
4. Warping Boards. Like most building material, wood has a tendency to expand and contract with the changes in temperature and moisture content. After some time, the boards may begin to warp, causing the grains in the wood to open up, allowing moisture to pool and absorb into the wood, ultimately resulting in wood rot.
5. Staining. It is important to regularly monitor your deck for abnormal or excessive staining. Algae or moss growth could also be in this category. It could be a sign that water and dirt are working their way into the wood. An example of this might be a leaking gutter dripping onto the deck. First, repair the gutter, then treat the affected area.
Following these useful tips should keep you deck looking good and you feeling great!