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How To Prevent Water Damage From Ruining Your Hardwood Deck

Damage to a deck can create several headaches for homeowners. You have to account for the safety of your family, as well as the guests attending social functions. The diminished appearance of a water stained deck leads to a decrease in the value of your home. Hardwood that has slowly soaked over the course of several months begins to rot, which changes the structural integrity of the deck from an outdoor living space that can handle considerable weight to a structure that is close to collapsing

Recognizing water damage to your deck is a good start, but as they say, prevention is better than the cure. Use the same principle to learn how to prevent water damage from ruining your deck.

How Water Damages a Hardwood Deck

If left undetected, moisture buildup can cause irreversible damage to a hardwood deck. You might notice a puddle on the edge of a deck eventually disappear. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a structural problem underneath the deck. Whether a sudden heavy downpour hits or an extended stretch of humid days generates moisture on the deck, you need to know the ways how water ruins a hardwood deck.

Mold and Its Health Concerns

Mold growth represents the most detectable sign your deck is under the siege of moisture. Water stains you discover beneath a wet mat or under a pile of dead leaves can trigger the production of unhealthy mold and mildew. What starts off as an allergy nightmare can turn into a deck accident waiting to happen. Mold and mildew slowly erode the structural integrity of any type of hardwood deck.

Support Boards Split

Small nicks and crevices in a hardwood deck can quickly expand when moisture evades the tiny openings. Eventually, smaller cracks and crevices turn into dangerous long and wide planks that if left unattended, can break off and cause part of the deck to collapse. Untreated cracked wood can lead to huge warping that requires the replacement of your hardwood deck.



Lost Nails and Screws

If the cracks and crevices grow at locations where there are nails and screw, then you could lose plenty of deck hardware after just one rainstorm. Rusted nails and screws slowly degrade to the point when the deck hardware break off. Lost deck hardware can create huge gaps in your deck, which severely compromises the safety of anyone sitting or standing on the outdoor living space. You should perform an inspection every month to determine whether your deck needs significant hardware replacement.

Weak Link to Your Home

A hardwood deck ledger board acts as the connecting hardware that firmly secures the deck to your home. If moisture collects on the ledger board and the board is left untreated over several months, there is the possibility that the ledger board can come unattached to your house. Faulty ledger boards are the number one reason why hardwood decks collapse.

Preventing Water Damage to a Hardwood Deck

Whether you are worried about water damage caused by melting snow or the water puddles left by a summer thunderstorm, you can implement one or more of the following strategies to prevent water damage from ruining your hardwood deck.

Thorough Cleaning

As we mentioned clutters of leaves and other debris can collect water. If left piled up on the deck, the drenched leaves and debris can start to rot your hardwood surface. Do not wait until spring for the annual deck cleanup. Try to clean the deck at least every other week, including when the deck is not in use during the colder months of the year.

Get Scrubbing

Investing in a professional grade scrubber might seem like an expensive home improvement accessory. Yet, by scrubbing your deck at least one time during each of the four seasons, you eliminate hard to clean stains left by the presence of moisture. You can also rent a professional grade scrubber from a local hardware store.

Clean the Gutters

There is not a more unglamorous and mind numbing home improvement chore than slapping a ladder against your home and cleaning the gutters. Debris that collects inside the gutters can lead to water runoff. Where does the water land? Part of it hits your deck where it pools into large puddles that cause considerable rotting. Clean the gutter not only at the end of autumn, but at least one time every two months. You should check the gutters after a particularly windy day or after a strong thunderstorm has moved on from your neighborhood.

Protective Cover

A growing number of home improvement contractors recommend customers protect their deck investments by attaching a rugged tarp or cover to four or more strong aluminum or stainless steel poles. The key to hanging a tarp is to ensure the surface remains taut to prevent water from collecting to form large pools. A covered deck reduces the amount of time you have to clean the hardwood, as well as provide shelter for you and your family when Mother Nature becomes temperamental.

Seal of Approval

As the most effective way to prevent water damage from ruining your hardwood deck, adding a highly rated professional grade sealant closes every crack and crevice. Another benefit of using a sealant on your hardwood deck is the substance prevents water from collecting into large pools. Sealants are especially effective at melting ice and evaporating the leftover moisture.

Do Not Let it Snow

You cannot stop Old Man Winter from releasing his snowy fury, but you can make sure Old Man Winter’s snowy deposit does not remain on your hardwood deck for long. Use either a shovel or a blower to clear your hardwood deck of snow. Just a short time of sun exposure melts snow to produce water puddles on the deck. At the very least, snow left on your deck can leave unsightly stains after it melts.

Your deck extends the entertainment space of your home. Make sure the entertainment space lives a long life by implementing one or more tips that prevent water damage from ruining your hardwood deck.

  • Tiffany Ellis

    Tiffany Ellis is a writer for Damage Control 911 and has been in the water damage and mold remediation industry since 2007.

  • Jim Corkern

    Jim is a water damage and structural drying technician. He's been in the water damage restoration industry for 15 years.

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