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6 signs it’s time to replace your decking

With the summer season now upon us, BBQs, garden parties, and afternoons spent relaxing in the garden are in full flow.

At the start of the summer, our garden often needs a little TLC, to fix any winter storm damage, cut away overgrown areas, and generally have a bit of a tidy-up.

If you have a decked area, it is most likely at this point of the year when you’re thinking about getting the jet washer out, to give your deck a good clean and sand down, and applying a splash of oil to achieve that summer-ready look.

However, you may find that this year, it’s going to take a lot of work to bring your decking back up to scratch.

Decking is a superb addition to any garden – however, because it is a natural material, inevitably it doesn’t last forever.

Over time, it’s very normal for a deck to show the signs of aging. Whilst the more you look after a deck, the longer it will last, after about 8-10 years, most decks have peaked at their life expectancy.

decking project

The question is; repair or replace my decking?

Sometimes it’s not always easy to make the call – many find themselves stuck in a predicament wondering whether a deck or parts of a deck still have life within them and are salvageable, or whether it’s better to opt for a new, fresh deck entirely.

If your deck is old or has been neglected by previous house owners, it may be time to consider a new deck. There are often a few tell-tale signs that it’s time to replace a deck for new.

1- The deck is sagging

broken deck

Is there an area of your deck that is sagging? This is a clear sign that your deck is no longer structurally sound.

It’s likely that if your deck is sagging, timber beams and deck panels have become rotten and are starting to crumble.

This is bad news, as it’s likely that the deck is no longer safe to walk on.

Key signs to look out for:

It’s a good idea to investigate the issue first before jumping to conclusions about replacing the deck. Start by lifting some of the decking boards to find out what’s going on underneath. By doing this, you should be able to spot which core timber components are causing the issue.

Observe and feel the wood. If it is crumbly to touch and damp, it’s likely the wood is rotten.

If the timber is rotten throughout the main structural components, it’s probably time to rip it out and start again as rot spreads quickly and may be affecting other areas of the deck.

2 – There are visible signs of rotting throughout

rotting decking

Even if your deck is not sagging, there are a few other signs that your deck may be rotting.

Discolouration is one of the first things you’re likely to notice. Rotting wood will have a dark, grayish colour that looks damp.

You may also notice that decking boards or vertical structural beams have become spongy to touch. Using a screwdriver, you can test for soft spots, to find out to what extent the rot has spread through key timber decking components. Flaky or crumbling timber is a sure sign that rot is present. This is a great opportunity to install the concrete deck posts under your subframe, to prevent rotting again in the future.

Should I replace my decking if it is rotting?

If you catch rot early, you may be able to replace the timber decking components.

However, if this is an issue that has gone undetected for quite some time, the rot may have spread throughout the entire structure. If this is the case, it’s a sign that it’s time to replace your deck for new.

3 – It looks like an eyesore

old decking

Have you got an old, redundant deck in your garden that exists without purpose or use?

Anything in your garden that is looking tired, broken, or unkempt can really mess with the dynamics of an outside space.

If your deck is simply not fit for purpose – maybe it’s broken or in an inconvenient or shaded spot that you simply don’t use, it may be time to get rid and start again.

Give your garden a fresh new look

A fresh deck can brighten up a garden very quickly, and bring purpose back to unused and uncelebrated space. It’s the ultimate feng shui reviver!

This is the perfect excuse to re-inject a little love back into your garden and redesign the landscape to work for you and your family.

4 – Splits and cracks in the wood

broken decking

Can you see splits or cracks in the wood?

Splits and cracks in decking boards not only look unpleasant but they can be a big splinter hazard.

The last thing you want is for a family member, guest or pet to end up with a splinter in their foot. So catching this issue early, and fixing it, is really important.

What’s more, splits and cracks in the timber can cause more of a long-term structural issue.

Constant exposure to weathering over a long period of time, such as heavy rain and icy conditions, causes water to seep through. It finds it’s way into these small splits and cracks, which leads to further deterioration in the long run.

As moisture gets trapped under these areas, it starts the rotting process, which left unmanaged will ruin the entire surface area, resulting in poor structural integrity.

Assessing the situation

If you see splits in one or two areas and catch them early, you may be able to simply replace the affected timber.

However, if large amounts of timber, including the decking boards or joists, have visible signs of splitting and cracking, it may be time to think about installing a new deck.

5 – Screws aren’t holding

rusty screw in wood

Have you recently tried repairing sections of your deck, only to find that screws are not taking to the wood or holding in place? Or, maybe, you’ve started to notice that nails or screws are popping up out of the deck?

This is a big indicator that it’s time to consider replacing your deck.

Ultimately, for a deck to be safe, the key components, including the decking boards, and any steps, or handrails, need to be safely and securely fastened to the core structure. As soon as these components become loose, they become a hazard.

So what do you do? Replace or repair the deck?

If this is happening in just a small area of the deck structure, you may be able to replace the affected wood and screws. However, if your deck is in a terrible way throughout, repair costs may actually be on par with replacement costs. If this is the case, replacing the deck for new is advisable.

6 – Decking boards are curling or lifting

decking boards

Decking boards are a key component of any deck. Not only are they an important aesthetic and characteristic feature, but they are also an essential structural element of the deck.

When decking boards start to warp, shrink or curl, not only is the visual appearance of your deck compromised, the structural safety of the deck may be too.

Why are my decking boards warping?

We know that moisture can have a strange effect on timber. It can make it rot and split, but it can also make it warp and shrink, too. That’s why looking after your deck is so important.

Cleaning away leaves that are trapping moisture and using oils and treatments to seal the wood is key. Warping occurs when moisture leaves the decking boards, causing them to shrink.

If warping is only occurring in one or two areas, you may be able to replace the affected decking boards.

But, if there is widespread curling and warping throughout, you’d likely be better off replacing the entire deck, or at least the decking boards.

It’s a good idea to check the condition of the structural timber underneath too, before simply replacing the boards, as these too may be moisture damaged, and therefore replacing just the boards will mean that in a few years’ time, you’ll have to replace the structural beams too. This is likely to be a less cost-efficient way of managing the issue.

Looking for decking materials? Shop online now 

We sell a wide range of hardwood decking, which is ideal if you’re looking to upgrade your deck or want to build a new deck that lasts just that little bit longer in the future.

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