Can You Spot the Signs of Deck Decay?

two lounge chairs sitting on a deck facing the water

Summer is right around the corner, which means it’s time to do a deck check! Before you invite the entire family over for swimming and barbeques, make sure your deck is safe and ready for the crowd.

Can you spot the signs of an unsafe deck?


Rotted Posts

If your deck is sitting on rotted posts, it’s likely it won’t be able to support the weight of the deck much longer. Older decks have higher chances of rotting because the posts sit directly on the footings, causing them to soak up water.

How to check for rot: probe around the posts, stair stringers, and decking surface to search for softwood. Small areas of rot may be removed with a chisel – apply a thick coat of sealer to the exposed area. Larger areas of rot will require the wood to be replaced.


Loose Railings

Shaky railings are a safety hazard and should be repaired as soon as possible – especially if you have young children. Railing posts that are attached by nails only will eventually come loose. Replace the nails with carriage bolts, washers, and nuts to ensure the railing is secure.


No Ledger Flashing

The ledger board is a critical structural element for your deck – it connects the deck to the frame of the house. The ledger flashing prevents water from seeping into the space between your deck and home. Without this, your deck has a higher chance of collapsing.


Wobbly Deck Boards

If your deck boards wobble when you walk on them, it’s likely that the joists have pulled away from the ledger and have become weaker. Don’t let deck boards that wobble or squeak go unnoticed – weak deck boards can create a safety hazard.


Structural Damage

Cracks don’t start off as structural problems but can worsen over time and should be noted. Pay attention to any structural damage as it poses safety hazards. Rotted wood can cause the frame of the deck to sag, making it unsafe to walk on. Termites are drawn to wood and can cause serious structural damage to your deck. Learn to spot the signs of termites and protect your deck from wood-eating pests.


If your deck shows any of these signs, be sure to take action and make the necessary repairs before inviting guests over. Rotted, cracked, and loose wood are all signs your deck needs immediate attention and should be repaired to prevent safety hazards.