Your deck is outside in the elements all year, which means that it will probably need repairs at some point. If the weather damage to it is severe, you may have to replace it entirely. It is therefore important to find out which types of damage are relatively minor and which call for you to invest in a new deck. You will have to inspect your deck carefully to determine its condition. Pay attention to the following factors during your inspection:
The material used to construct your deck will determine how it stands up to wear. For instance, real wood reacts to the elements differently when compared to composite boards or vinyl. Vinyl and composite decks may fade while wood decks can sometimes warp. Depending on the material, you may only need to replace a few damaged boards or you may need to do a wholesale replacement.
Weakened or Loose Fasteners
Your deck's fasteners can come loose because of the expansion and contraction caused by warm and cold weather. Oxidization can also be a problem because of exposure to the air. Oxidation can weaken fasteners.If the hardware is loose or has been weakened, your deck may be unsafe and you may need to replace it.
A Sagging Frame
Rot makes a wood deck more vulnerable to termite infestation. As the termites eat, they make the wood more porous and this allows water to seep even deeper into it and speed up the rotting process. Rot and the termite damage cause the deck’s frame to sag, which is one of the signs that it needs to be replaced.
The expansion and contraction process that loosens fasteners can damage wood and composite board. In many cases, this can be repaired. If the damage is extensive, you may want to opt for a new deck made from a more stable material.
Weak Post Connections
The right fasteners are essential for a longer lasting deck. For example, the deck posts should be connected to the beam with galvanized carriage bolts. If the only fasteners used for this purpose are standard nails, your deck may be in danger of collapse and in need of replacement.
If you are unsure whether your deck needs small repairs or a complete replacement, contact us at Woodscape Construction today! Our experienced carpenters can help you to figure out what has to be done.
Virginia is one of the nation's states with natural beauty built directly into the scenery, and no matter where you look, there are virtually limitless ways to be awed by the world around you. Of course, one of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors is from the comfort of your own home.
Homeowners have been faced with the decision of decks versus patios for decades. To help you understand which is the better investment for your personal situation, we've created this guide to help you through the shopping and designing processes.
How Much Weight Can It Hold?
If you'll be using your outdoor space for everyday actions like grilling out and socializing with family and friends, either space will work just fine as far as weight is concerned. If you're planning on adding a hot tub or other super heavy objects, however, you'll want to start taking weight into consideration. Decks can absolutely be built sturdy enough to accommodate hot tubs, but sometimes the added reinforcements can detract from the aesthetic appeal the homeowner was going for. In cases like this, a patio might be the better option.
How Would You Describe Your Property?
Many parts of Virginia lend themselves to mountainous terrain. Depending on the physical geography of your property, a deck could be much more advantageous than a patio if you don't have the space necessary to create a flat foundation on the ground. If your home is located on rough, rugged, or sloping terrain, a patio could require substantial excavation costs.
Do You Have a Preferred Type of Material?
Although you certainly have many material options in either situation, when you're considering the advantages of decks versus patios, you should put some thought into the most commonly used materials for each. Decks are often made of wood, vinyl, or composite material. This can add an aesthetic appeal very fitting to many Virginia homes, and there is a wide variety of each of these materials used in the building of decks. Patios typically begin with concrete bases and are finished with pavers, brick, or stone. Each option comes with its own considerations regarding maintenance and upkeep.
Are you weighing the benefits of decks versus patios for your own home? Our experts at Woodscape Construction will be happy to help you understand the advantages of each. Contact us, and let us provide you with some guidance!
With cold icy winters and hot humid summers, decks in the North endure a great deal of Mother Nature’s abuse. In addition to keeping up with regular maintenance, it’s important to look out for clues that indicate potential safety hazards, regardless of a deck’s height. By knowing the signs of wear and tear, you can address small issues before they become expensive repairs.
Spotting Wear and Tear on Your Deck
The wood crumbles and falls apart: When a wooden deck is exposed to too much moisture, dry rot may occur. Dry rot refers to fungal decay. When the fungus lives on wood, it digests the properties that give the lumber its stiffness and strength. At first, dry rot looks might look like orange dust. As it grows, the spores form white strands on the wood. Eventually, the wood gets soft and crumbles.
The structure leans away from the house: When a deck separates from a ledger board, it’s in danger of collapsing. This may occur when fasteners or connecters are loose or missing, the wood decays or because of poor fastener choices (i.e., using nails instead of lag bolts).
Small holes in the boards: Small holes may indicate the presence of insects living in or traveling through the deck. By identifying the offending insect, you can determine if they’re the kind that live in or eat decaying wood.
The wood seems slick: If the boards have a greenish hue to them, the wood may have a mildew or algae problem.
The deck’s color faded: Wood and other materials fade when exposed to the sun. To keep a deck’s original color, you may need to re-stain and re-seal it every couple of years, depending on the materials used.
The wood cracks and splinters: It is common for wood to splinter and crack with age, particularly if you don’t use a protective finish. Exposure to the elements can also cause deck boards to warp.
Corroding fasteners and connectors: Exposure to moisture leads to oxidation and corrosion with most types of metals. If you don’t prevent or limit the corrosion, the rust that forms can stain the wood on the structure.
Ignoring wear and tear on a deck can shorten its lifespan and pose serious safety hazards. If you are not sure about how to identify such concerns or remedy them, contact us to inspect and maintain the structure annually.
As a homeowner, you want the exteriors of your home to look as good and beautiful as the interiors. Hence, maintaining your deck is vital. A clean deck not only looks good, it extends the life of the structure as well. However, when it comes to cleaning your deck, you may not want to use elbow grease as it is time consuming and tiring. So, what will you do? Power washing is the most common way to deep clean a deck, but do the pros outweigh the cons?
To Power Wash or Not
There is no doubt a pressure washer can clean your deck quickly and effortlessly. Hence, it is often the tool of choice when cleaning a wooden deck. But, did you know pressure washers are strong enough to destroy the surface of wood used on the deck? The pressurized water that comes out of the nozzle of the washer can swiftly erode the wood fibers. If the wood fibers don’t get eroded, you could end up with a wooden surface that is rough after the deck dries. So, before powerwashing your wooden deck, it is important to do the proper research as not to damage the deck.
This said, there are some professional deck construction services who claim erosion occurs only when inexperienced homeowners are the reason for damage to a deck. These experts feel this is because homeowners are not used to using the pressure washer. They go wrong because of one of the following:
• Using an incorrect tip
• Keeping the water pressure too high
• Holding the tip of the pressure washer too close to the deck’s surface
The Bottom Line
If you decide to powerwash your deck, make sure you first test the pressure of the water on an inconspicuous corner of your deck. If it hasn’t damaged the deck, go ahead and powerwash your deck. However, if you are unsure, simply call us atWoodscape to learn how we can extend the life of your deck and keep it in it's best shape!
Your deck needs your care and attention in order to stay in good shape over the years. It is important to get your deck ready for the summer months, and spring is the time to do it. Prepping for the upcoming summer takes only a few steps, but you must take your time with each step in order to make sure this outdoor space is safe and ready for summer fun.
Give it a good inspection
The first thing you should do is go over the entire space visually. Look for loose boards and nails and check the rails and supports. This gives you the chance to repair or replace anything that’s not in great condition. Sand down splinters and tighten screws where needed. You may or may not need to replace boards, depending on any damage that may have accrued.
Give it a good cleaning
The next step is to clean. Start off with sweeping and hosing off all the debris. On a cloudy day, or during a time when the sun won’t bake the soap, wash the deck with a soap and water mixture. Then rinse it well. You will want to wait a couple days before doing anything else. This allows time to get the space completely dry.
Give it extra protection
Once your space is completely clean you will want to restain, if needed, and seal it for extra protection through the summer months. Depending on the foot traffic, you should only have to restain your deck about once every three years. Plan to do this step when you have two full days of fair weather with no rain in the forecast. Prep the entire space with a light sanding, as this will raise the grain in the area and allow the stain and sealant to absorb.
When applying your sealant you want to use a roller and do it in thin, even coats. You may need to use a small brush to get between the boards. Once you have applied the sealant, give the deck a couple days to fully set and dry before you use it.
Once the area is good and dry, you can bring out the barbecue, the table and chairs, and enjoy the fun summer months. Gather together with friends and family and start off your summer with an outdoor barbecue party on your great refurbished deck!
For more tips on how to refurbish your deck or if you're looking for someone to build your dream deck, contact us at Woodscape!
It is almost time to get outside and enjoy the Spring weather! Before you set up the patio furniture, you will need to prep your decking. This means it is time to clean, restore, and take protective measures so that your deck will be ready. These steps will allow you to get the most from your deck all through Spring and Summer.
Give your decks a good cleaning
The first step in cleaning is to sweep and brush off all debris. Pay attention to the nook and crannies. You don't want debris left on the deck when you finally seal it. Once you have cleared the area, choose your cleaner and wash the area. Do this on a cloudy day so the sun does not evaporate the cleaner as you work. Simply follow the cleanering instructions and then let dry.
Get rid of the unwanted spots
Before you finish the area you will want to strip away any deteriorating or unwanted finishes. You can completely strip the space if you want a change or if the finish has worn out too much. Or you can lightly sand any areas that may need it. This way you are left with a smooth surface that won't collect mold, mildew, or rot once stained and sealed. Also, take this time to replace any boards that may be damaged. Then finish up by replacing missing or popped nails and screws.
Seal your deck
Now your deck is ready for staining or painting depending on your preference. You will follow the instructions given with the stain or decking paint. Let dry before sealing.
The final step to preparing your decking for Spring is to apply a sealant. Plan this task when you will have a couple clear, warm days for drying. Choose a sealer that is appropriate for your decking material. No matter what sealant you pick, whether it be transparent or semi-transparent, be sure to use a sealant that is water repellent.
When applying the sealer use a roller and stay within 2 to 4 boards at a time. Be careful not to let the sealant pool, apply two thin coats for a good and even seal. Use smaller rollers and brushes for railings and edges.
For more information on care and maintenance of your deck, or if your deck has reached the point of no return and it's time to upgrade, visit us at Woodscape Construction.
A long winter can be hard on you, and even tougher on your deck. This year, follow these tips to clean your deck after the winter and have it looking as good as new.
During the cold weather, your deck is exposed to a variety of damaging conditions. Ice, sleet, and snow can cause wear. To minimize this damage, you should follow these steps to thoroughly clean it when the winter has passed.
Clear the area of any furniture and accessories. If you have any plants on the ground surrounding it, you should cover them with a plastic sheet. this will protect them from any debris that may fall on them. Take a broom and sweep off any dirt and debris that has accumulated, removing any large items by hand. Be sure to check in between the boards and remove anything that has accumulated with something narrow, such as the end of a hoe.
2. Rinse the Area
If you have access to a power-washer, rinse all of the grime off the surface. Start at one end, and work your way to the other as you spray. Keep the nozzle far enough from the surface that the spray doesn't damage it. Spray between the boards to clean any remaining debris. If you do not have a power-washer, you can use a hose with a good nozzle.
3. Clean It
Starting at one end, use a commercial cleaner with a stiff-bristled brush to clean the area. When you reach the end, rinse the entire space with a hose. To remove any algae that may have grown during the winter, make a bleach solution of one part bleach and four parts water. Pour it over the affected area and allow it to sit 15 minutes before scrubbing it and rinsing it.
4. Sealing the Wood
After the wood has completely dried, you can seal it. Use a sealant of your choice, taking into consideration the climate. Follow the instructions of the sealant and your deck will be prepared for anything.
Cleaning your deck properly after winter can prevent damage, and keep it looking good. Just a simple cleaning can make a big difference.
It is said that “April is the cruelest month,” but when it comes to decks, nothing compares to the weather – and the damage – produced by Mother Nature during the winter months. The only protection is to take some proactive measures in the months before. Here are the basics for winter deck care in the Maryland and Virginia area:
Clean Thoroughly: This step involves more than just removing the remnants of your end-of-year barbecue party. Instead, you must actually search for and remove any mold, mildew, moss and or algae that will continue to degrade the wood during the winter months. Use a mild bleach-infused cleaner and a stiff, bristle brush to accomplish this.
Make Repairs: Believe it or not, the freezing and thawing cycle can really exacerbate any damage to your deck that may have occurred over the summer months. In short, instead of a minor fix now, you might be looking at a major one or complete replacement come next spring if you ignore the problem. In particular, ensure that the planking is solidly connected, that any fencing is firmly planted in the ground and that all gates are securely attached.
Apply a Protective Finish: Whether you are looking for a colored sealant or just a clear one, it is imperative to use one that protects the deck from water infiltration as, over the winter, the freeze/thaw cycle can cause irreparable damage. There are a number of reputable and proven products on the market.
Don't Shovel Any Snowfall: Here's a great tip that will save you both time and effort as well as help protect your deck - do not shovel any snow that collects on top. Simply put, it saves your back and does no harm to the wood since the snow will not penetrate into the deck. Only shovel if there is a large accumulation which can be very heavy.
For more information on properly preparing your deck for the coming winter weather, please visit us at Woodscape Construction.
If your home has an existing wood deck or you're planning new deck construction, it's important to protect it with a good sealer. Proper deck maintenance will improve the strength and durability of the wood and protect your deck from daily wear-and-tear.
Once wood is harvested as bare lumber, it looses it's protection from the natural oils in tree bark. It becomes dry, brittle and subject to harmful effects of the elements. Rain, snow and standing water cause wood to swell, while sunlight exposure causes wood to shrink, dry out and become brittle. This constant process of swelling and shrinking causes wood to become unstable, resulting in cracking, twisting and warping. If your wooden deck is not protected with a good sealer, your deck construction will eventually rot and fall apart.
The best time to seal your deck depends on several factors – the age of your deck, your climate, and local weather conditions. If you apply a sealer at the wrong time, your deck won't be fully protected.
Your Deck's Age – If you have new deck construction, you should wait at least one year before applying a sealer. New wood needs to dry and cure properly for a sealer to penetrate the wood. With a new deck, protect your deck with a new wood treatment for the first year, then followup with a sealer. If you have an older wooden deck, you need to reseal your deck every 12 to 18 months for best protection.
Your Climate – Since most wood sealant products work best in mild temperatures, the best time to apply a sealer to your wooden deck is spring or fall. If it's too hot or too cold, the sealer won't penetrate the wood's surface properly. Check specific directions on your product label.
Weather Conditions – Before you apply a sealer, you need to clean your wooden deck to remove dirt and debris. Power wash your deck construction and allow it to dry for two to three days. When dry, apply your sealer and allow one or two days for drying. Check your local weather conditions and choose five to six days with mild temperatures and no rain forecast.
Poor deck maintenance causes homeowners to repair or replace thousands of decks each year, so protect your wooden deck with a good sealer.