The weather outside is chilly but the winter frost is slowly starting to melt away. And dreams of long evenings out on the deck can become a reality. To help ensure that your dreams are realised, it's important to make sure that your deck is in good condition now. A deck that is of good quality is expected to last for around 15 years. Wood decks require annual maintenance and if not treated properly, residents will discover that the lifespan of their deck may drop drastically. If you’re curious about replacing, repairing, or starting to build a deck from scratch, this guide will answer your questions with our builder’s tips.

For anyone considering adding a timber deck to their home. The first thing that needs to be considered is what type of material will be used. For wood, there are two options: hardwood and softwood.

1. Hardwood is more durable than softwood decking which means that they tend to have a longer lifespan before needing to be replaced. These decks also require maintenance by oiling the wood every two to three years to preserve the structure.

2. Softwood is more popular and less expensive than hardwood decking. Unlike hardwood decking, softwood is pressure treated to help with preservation. While there are pros and cons to each type of decking, the choice is ultimately yours. After selecting the type of wood that you’ll want to use contact your local joiner for installation. Only if your carpentry skills are on an expert level would we recommend installing on your own?

For anyone that already has a deck, here are some signs that your deck may need to be replaced or repaired:

1. Loose Railings- The biggest issue with loose railings are that they create a safety hazard especially if your deck is extremely elevated. If you’re noticing that the railings on your deck are unsteady or leaning inward, then it's time to replace them. While having loose railings isn’t going to cause the deck to collapse, if you have young children or enjoy hosting friends & family, it's something that should be replaced as soon as possible. Here’s a builder tip for helping the railings to stay reinforced. Don’t rely solely on using nails to keep the railing in place. This is a short term solution at best. For a more permanent fix, try using carriage bolts.

2. Rotted Wood- A wooden deck will absorb a lot of water. If not properly treated, this wood will become rotted making it no longer reliable. When the wood is rotted, the frame will begin to sag and become vulnerable to termites. Check for signs of visible rot as they are signs that the deck will need to be replaced.

3. Too Much Damage Below- It’s easy to notice signs of decay or worry on the surface of a deck. However, to ensure that its structurally sound, an inspection below is also needed. The first thing is to check the posts have a strong connection to the beam. If weak, you’ll want to use carriage bolts to support it instead of only using nails. While checking the posts, look for any signs of rot that would need to be replaced. Finally, check for erosion around the posts. Time will start to wear away at the ground beneath each post. It needs to be confirmed that the posts are anchored in the ground and can support the deck.

4. At-Risk of Breaking the house- Unless you have a floating deck, this structure is attached to the house. Check that the ledger board is strong enough to keep the deck in its right place. Any signs of weakness mean that it's time to repair or replace.

5. Drastic Surface Damage- Does your deck create an extreme risk for splinters? This can be fixed by sanding down problematic areas. Certain areas affected by mould or rot can also be replaced with new boards. However, if there are large areas that are affected or damaged, then the entire deck could have to be replaced.

6. Rusty Fixtures and Fixings- This last sign is pretty straightforward. Watch out for signs of rusty nails and screws. Replaced rusty or broken items as you see fit. A deck is a marvellous addition to any home.

If you’re looking to purchase any items, to repair, replace, or build a deck look no further than Build4Less.ie. We have an amazing range of decking materials with the best prices around.