Leslie: Well, the weather is getting better, and soon you’ll spend more time on your deck. But before you get ready for the next time you are living outside, it is important to ensure that the deck is in good shape.
Tom: Yes, that’s right. Now, all we’ve heard the stories of horror cave deck and a good inspection will tell you if you have something to worry about. Here to tell us how to do just our favorite contractor, Tom Silva, general contractor for This Old House TV.
Tom Silva: Thank you. Very nice to be here.
Tom: Good have you here, too.
Let’s talk about the safety of the deck. Summer day, we seem to hear the same story: it is a party, invite someone over 40 or 50 of their closest friends and personal tragedy ensues. How we’re sure that will not happen to us?
Tom Silva: This is the right way: 40 or 50 of your closest friends, see how much weight is placed on the deck.
Tom Silva: And if it is not built structurally stronger, can fall no matter what. But what you want to look for signs of Rot. And I always see – first of all, you can see the Earth itself. That is usually a sign, because many people do not get the deck below to learn about the structure.
Tom Silva: They’ll say, “Hey, look a little worn wood floors. Just a little Rot. ‘
Tom Silva: That’s a sign there. And then you have to start to see how it is connected to the house. There is a board book that the beam that connects the house. What is this condition? Average sign at the top edge, where it meets the deck. You can have some Rot in there that you should look out for. The screwdriver and press it, stir, as you are looking sill Rot at home.
Tom: Now, that is a good point. Screwdriver may actually be one of the best tools to detect decay.
Leslie: Probing tool, if you will?
Tom Silva: You must know, yes.
Tom: All the years I spent as a home inspector, I used to wear tips from people screwdriver, because it actually tells you how well or not the wood.
Tom Silva: Of course.
Tom: Because it may look fine from the outside.
Tom Silva: Yes. Very deceiving, especially if someone has put a coat of paint or stain it or whatever, it can hide.
But also, look at the support you where they are connected to the base. Many times, they decompose in the middle. If there is a bolt or fastener that operates the center, there is no protection there. And if the deck is not, either pressure-treated material or just plain, conventional wood that has not been sealed, have a short life.
Tom: Now, blinking is also very important because that’s what separates the water from the timber, right?
Tom Silva: Water from the timber and house connections. Makes a great connection and clean. Because if the water does get between the flashing and the general ledger, you will rot ledger but also decompose at home. And you do not see from the outside, so you should – make sure the flashing is really solid.
Leslie: Now, when you check the point of the book, you can really see no flashing or encased behind it so that it’s anyone’s guess if it exists?
Tom Silva: It depends on the type of flash used them and how they are sealed flashing. Many times, people will use a piece of aluminum flashing with pressure-treated wood and rot anyways itself. And then put a nail through the flashing, so you just defeat the purpose of flashing. So, you should really check it out and see and hope – poking around the screwdriver to actually solve a lot of problems around there.
Tom: We’re talking with Tom Silva of This Old House TV.
So, first we have to check Rot, then we check the flashing. Fasteners are also very important as well.
Tom Silva: Of course. Appearance Fasteners, chain saw, to see where the connection is written or support for, hopefully, the foundation. And if you see signs of rust at all, it is usually a sign that there is a problem in one place. Probably wrong Fasteners are used and you have to look at it.
Leslie: And what about the railings and banisters? They basically take a ton of abuse, especially if you have a stack high enough. How do you ensure that it is maintained?
Tom Silva: Well, again, you want to see where the connection has been fence post: no connection. Want to see a ledge. Normally, sign – how connected the fence ledge below, you can see some signs of damage or rot there or wrong type of Fasteners.
So if you check your fence, you can provide a gentle kick below to see if there are loose motion. And if there is, get it, get it fixed.
Tom: Now, talking about the fence, many times we have the deck built many years ago and the fence is really too low. This is a good time to look at the height of the fence, too, is not it?
Tom Silva: Yes, the fence is 26, 29 inches tall. They look …
Leslie: This is low.
Tom Silva: Yes. History of the house. But think about it: at that time, no one fell off the deck, you know?
Tom Silva: But the current building codes now 36 inches. Some people like 42. I do not like the look of the 42 but if you get 3, 4 or 5 stories, the higher the better.
Leslie: mm-hmm. And what about distance? Almost seems to keep them closer together so that children and pets can not wiggle their way through.
Tom Silva: That’s the idea. You do not want a 4 ½-inch ball to go through the hole bars or space – any space at all – because you do not want baby to climb through it or a dog or a pet.
Tom: Now, in addition to the structure, we see the floor board and we just found out that they were badly broken. Do you think – many people think that because you have pressure-treated wood, it does not get worse but it is not true. Sun can really do a number on it. It can crushed glass, can be uncomfortable for the feet. Any quick tricks to improve the board?
Tom Silva: Well, you’re right, hit it right on the head: pressure-treated wood still needs care. People do not think so. He got a big check in here. Many times, it will not rot. Sometimes you can get – and actually get the damaged part and rot.
But you should keep some stains it. You have to keep something in there to protect the wood. I do not care if it is pressure-treated or not, there are still some protection here. And if it’s too far, you may need to cover other product or replace it with just one. Sometimes, you can do it, turn it over.
Tom: Great advice. Tom Silva of This Old House TV, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. This is an important topic and something you really should do at least once a season, right?
Tom Silva: Of course. To right after winter.
Leslie: Yes. You can get the current time Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. To list your local video and step-by-step deck maintenance, you can visit ThisOldHouse.com.
Tom: And the Old House is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators, more wood flooring.
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