The average lifespan of a wood deck is typically 10 to 15 years.
The actual lifespan of your wood deck will depend on the type of wood you’ve chosen and how well you keep up with wood maintenance.
Where to Look and What to Look For
To ensure that your deck inspection is thorough, it’s best to look at each component of your deck in turn. There are four areas that you need to focus on when you do your own inspection:
The surface of the deck includes:
- railings, and
- deck boards.
Wooden surfaces exposed to moisture can and will rot. UV light fades the colour of wood, as well as damages the wood’s fibres. Making it easier for water to penetrate into the wood and damage it. Since the surface of your deck is most exposed to UV and moisture. It’s also the most vulnerable part of your deck and is likely to degrade the quickest.
The deck posts are the vertical parts of the deck’s substructure that hold it up and off the ground. Posts don’t usually receive large amounts of UV light and they shed water due to being vertical. But, there are two places that can accumulate water. The base of the post where it rests on the footer can rot if water gets caught there. Also, the area where the beams attach to the post can also collect moisture.
The beams and joists are the horizontal pieces of wood beneath the deck that support the deck boards. The beams are the larger of the two, with the joists running between them. Horizontal lumber, (beams and joists), usually rot first at the ends where it joins other timber. This is because the joint can trap moisture. Screws provide a path for moisture to penetrate the wood.
The fascia board is a wide, thin board that wraps around the perimeter of the deck. Usually below the deck boards to conceal the ends of the deck boards. It is not structural. Unfortunately, it can sometimes serve as a water trap. Keeping moisture trapped against the beams behind it. If you notice discoloration of your deck boards around the perimeter of the deck. This may indicate that your fascia board is trapping moisture, causing rot.
Regardless of how often you inspect or maintain your deck by staining and sealing. Its surface is going to need periodic replacement. When your deck is at this point. You may want to consider replacing the deck’s surface with composite decking. It looks like real wood but resists the elements better than wood does.
If you do remove the surface of your deck, this is an ideal time to inspect the deck’s substructure. Damage to the substructure is a major issue. If it is significant enough, it may be wise to replace the entire deck.
When Should I Repair or Replace My Deck?
When the cost of repairs starts to get close to the cost of replacing the entire deck. You should consider replacing the whole thing. Even decking materials that appear structurally sound are still old.
The trick is figuring out where that line is. Something like a single rotten post is a pain to replace. Surrounding beams need bracing with temporary supports. While the rotten post is removed with a new one. But it hardly justifies the cost of a new deck. Even replacing many posts hardly equals the cost of an entirely new deck. The exception is if your posts are buried in the ground rather than resting on footers. This is an older practice, and while still used sometimes, it has a serious drawback. Buried posts have a tendency to rot beneath the ground level. Shortening a post’s lifespan. If you see this when repairing a deck, it is definitely worth giving serious thought to a complete rebuild using concrete footers.
While posts are somewhat easy to swap out, beams are a different story. Beams hold up the joists, which are the supports for your deck boards. Having to remove a beam means having to remove joists as well.
Replacing a beam means replacing large sections of the deck. If you’re taking care of things yourself, then removing the joists for reuse may be practical. If you’re using hired labour, then the cost per hour of doing this may make replacing the entire deck cheaper.
Finally, if water is getting trapped behind the fascia board. Then it’s likely that water is being held against the entire length of the beam. If you have a fascia board problem, you’re better off replacing the deck than repairing it.
Choosing Materials to Replace Deck Components
Whether you’re replacing or repairing your deck. Consider using materials that may hold up for a bit longer than pressure-treated lumber.
Galvanized steel substructures are a new and longer-lasting alternative to pressure-treated lumber. The deck surface is most vulnerable to UV and water damage. You may want to consider composite decking. Composite deck boards have a few advantages over wood:
Plastic components make them less vulnerable to microbes and less appetizing to insects.
Capped boards resist moisture from all sides. Capping also makes composite decking barefoot-friendly and splinter-free.
Engineered fasteners ensure proper ventilation. They also don’t provide moisture a path into the board.
Whether you’re repairing your deck’s surface or replacing the whole thing. It is worth considering alternative materials. Such as steel substructures and composites to extend the life of your deck. They’ll save you money on repairs over the long haul, and they’ll save you time. They may also save you likes on YouTube that you’d rather not have.
Signs that it is Time
to Replace your Deck
- Obvious Damage to Wood
- Loose Railings
- Rusted Fittings
- Loose Posts
- Separation from the house
- Damaged Stairs
- Slanted or Slopes Deck