Deck Builder Houston Repairs
Written June 1, 2023 by Lon Emerson- Pro Deck Builder in Houston
Each week Emerson Home Exterior Enhancements receives numerous requests for deck repairs in Houston because most homeowners prefer wooden decks. Unfortunately, this material in our climate is prone to issues such as splitting, warping, and cracking due to our rainy season, which began in May and will last until October.
When deck repairs are not addressed quickly, this can lead to significant problems, including deck failure over time. If you have recently noticed wood rot, loose boards, or nails that have popped out, keep reading along, as our professional deck builder lets Houston homeowners know how to save money by addressing common deck repairs rather than replacing the structure of your deck.
If you are limited in time or know you need deck repairs in Houston or the surrounding area, don’t hesitate to call our elite deck builders at Emerson’s for a free inspection and an upfront price. Call (281) 545-7740 or complete our online contact form for a free deck repair estimate.
9 DECK REPAIRS FOR HOUSTON HOMEOWNERS
1. CRACKED OR SPLIT DECK BOARDS
Our subtropical climate is harsh on wooden structures, from fences and decking to gazebos and pergolas. If you’ve lived in Harris or Fort Bend county, we don’t need to tell you the amount of rain we annually receive - 50 inches! Since this is the primary cause for deck repairs in Houston, let me take a moment to give you a brief lesson on wood rot. It is not a fun topic, but education can save you money in the long run. Wood rot is caused by moisture- this doesn’t just mean rain, as decay can easily be caused by your sprinkler heads facing the wrong direction, lack of gutter cleaning, swimming pools, and improper draining. Once lumber reaches a 20-30% moisture content, it’s unable, even during our dog days of summer, to sufficiently dry out, which in turn creates a breeding ground for fungus to thrive. Fungus is dangerous because of how rapidly it can consume the bones of your outdoor structures. Once this occurs, which can be as soon as seven to ten days, it will zap the strength of the wood, and the boards can begin to split, crack, or warp; However, the structure may remain sound, and this isn’t going to make a pleasant environment for bare feet to walk on, especially after exiting the swimming pool. The excellent news is that due to procrastination, deck repairs cost Houston homeowners 10X less than having to restore or replace. Another common issue you may experience from moisture is that the boards will start to warp. When a portion of the lumber dries out at a faster rate, this can occur. Again, it may be possible to correct this without replacing the board, but as a deck builder in Houston with over 20 years of experience, we do not recommend it.
2. DECK POST
This problem arises a lot around our area because many deck builders in Houston need to be more experienced. Contractors are not required to be licensed in our state, leading to many deck builders cutting corners and going the most cost-effective route using soil or sand when anchoring the post. We use 50-pound bags of Quikrete fast-setting concrete per post at Emerson's to provide a safe and structurally sound deck. We also use only pressure-treated posts. Regardless of the wood you select from experience, pressure-treated lumber has benefited no other lumber offers. PT is infused with chemicals during the Kline-based drying process and does a better job of preventing wood rot and resisting wood-boring insects that can lead to an infestation that will destroy the boards over time.
PRO TIP: As they always say, an “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” this is why we highly recommend applying a deck stain and seal every three to five years. Using a reputable product such as Ready Made or Baer will act like an umbrella protecting the wood from rot and decay while costing significantly less than having to fork over money for deck repairs. Another great benefit to staining and sealing your deck is preserving the natural beauty of the wood; while some may not be bothered by wood greying, most homeowners prefer richer red or walnut tones. Finally, the only way to prevent patina is by using a sealer.
3. LOOSE NAILS, SCREWS, AND BOLTS
The deck has many components, including boards, posts, supports, rails, and connectors. There are three types of hardware a builder may use (nails, screws, and bolts). Nails are most likely to fail of the three types, which can jeopardize structural integrity. Returning to the issue of rain commonly leads to rust that can cause the head to break off the nails. You’ll end up with loose boards and possibly others when the heads come off. Another issue with using nails is that they are not sturdy and do not prevent the board from warping. For these reasons, our deck builders in Houston only use screws; except for load-bearing structural connections, we use bolts. Unfortunately, inexperienced deck builders often overlook things like bolts which should be added as soon as possible to avoid structural damage that may lead to severe injuries. If you are experiencing loose or moving parts, we suggest having a professional inspecting the surface.
4. UNSTABLE RAILINGS AND STAIRS
Another component you may begin to detect is wobbling or sponginess in the railings or stairs; resolve this issue immediately, and do not put it off!
Several factors can be the culprit that is causing your deck to shift or wobble, including wood-boring insects like termites. Determining the cause and the appropriate corrective measure is serious business, and you’ll want to have a professional deck builder visit your Houston property as not correcting this type of problem is risky as your deck could fall, endangering your family members or guest.
5. PEST INFESTATION AND DAMAGE
As mentioned above, termites can cause damage to your deck to the point of making it dangerous. Other pests affecting a deck include carpenter ants, beetles, and wasps that feast on wood. Correcting these infestations and their damage will vary based on how long it has been happening and the extent of the damage. Taking steps to prevent further damage may involve hiring a pest control service.
6. FOOTINGS MOVING OR DAMAGED
Most deck builders in Houston will use one supporting post every eight feet. For each footing, a hole is dug below the frost line, and concrete is poured into the hole and allowed to cure. The frost line in Houston is far lower than in areas with harsh winters, but the soil has been known to freeze- remember 2021. Soil above this line is subject to movement and heaving upward. If footers are not secured, they can move, which can cause your deck to crack and crumble. Replacing the footings will elevate the issue. Until then, you will need to hire a Houston deck builder to temporarily brace them until the existing posts are back on top of the new footings.
7. SINKING AND SAGGING
A sinking deck may result from noticeable, visible erosion around footings. It may also be the result of less obvious, invisible factors. If the ground below a deck was not appropriately compacted prior to construction, it could subside or sink. Correcting a sinking deck may require soil compaction and/or new footings installed at a lower depth.
If you have sagging areas on your deck, take steps immediately to get it checked out and corrected. Sagging often indicates footings, posts, or joists that are compromised in some manner, meaning the structural integrity of the entire deck may be at risk. Have a professional deck builder in Houston assess the whole deck to ascertain the cause and then take the appropriate measures to mitigate the problem as soon as possible.
8. DECK REPAIRS FROM MOLD & ALGAE
Algae and mold make a deck look bad and can damage the wood. Mold is a fungus that can grow on decks when conditions are right. Mold spores can easily blow onto a deck, and mold can begin to grow when moisture, the right temperature, and a food source are present. It appears as a black or dark green film. Algae is a green, sometimes slimy, film that can grow on a deck. Both algae and mold are unsightly and can damage your wood deck. And algae can be dangerously slippery. Therefore, deck cleaning is essential for the look and longevity of your deck.
9. FALLING LIMBS AND TREES
Trees occasionally shed limbs as they age or die due to disease or high winds. Larger limbs can sometimes inflict damage; in some cases, the entire tree may come down, causing significant damage. If this happens, contact a deck builder who can build and repair a deck.
CONTACT EMERSON DECK BUILDER HOUSTON
Working with an elite deck builder in Houston, you can expect your deck to remain solid and secure for thirty years or more. By regularly deck cleaning and applying sealants to the wood, you can extend its life by many more years. In addition, deck repairs won’t be nearly as frequent if you can do a bit of preventive maintenance.
If your carpentry skills are reasonable, you should tackle minor deck repairs yourself. However, major deck restoration or replacement is usually best left to a reputable deck builder who will follow all building codes and local permitting requirements. There are numerous safety issues during construction and afterward, so do your homework on each contractor to ensure your deck is built correctly.
If you are in Harris or Fort Bend country, the Emerson fences and decks team is ready to help you with minor or significant deck repairs, restoration, or new construction. We can assess the problems and only recommend the best remedy for your deck and wallet. Contact us now to discuss your deck repair or deck installation needs.