Six Fixes for Decks 1

Six Fixes for Decks

by Mike McClintock

Unlike sloped roofs and overlapped siding that shed weather, decks take the elements face first. From searing sun to ice and snow, the constant exposure can cause rotting, warping, cupping, and bare-feet hazards like raised nail heads and splinters.

1. Rotting Find grimy boards under a pile of leaves? It could be rot that erodes wood fibers and makes boards spongy. Or it might be surface mold that cleans up with a bleach solution or proprietary deck wash. To tell the difference, dig into the board with a knife. If it barely enters, it’s surface mold. If it sinks in, it’s rot and the board should be replaced.

2. Clogged seams When drainage spaces between boards clog with debris, standing water finds its way into cracks and nail holes, fostering rot. A jet from a pressure washer should clear leaves and twigs. If clogs are stubborn, pry them out with a screwdriver, or run an old circ saw blade along the gap.

3. Warping The grain in some lumber has a directional bias that can twist with enough force to split boards, often where the ends are fastened. To prevent that, drill pilot holes for the nails or screws. If the bias is vertical and a board is popping nails and bowing up in the middle, pull the nails at the bow and drive long screws for more holding power. (Check out the new Rockwell 20V Brushless Drill/Driver)

4. Cupping Deck boards can develop a water-trapping cup shape across their width. Instead of running off in the gaps between boards, water sits there, soaks in, and accelerates deterioration. If the cupping is shallow use a plane or belt sander to take down the high edges. If it’s pronounced, either pull the nails and reinstall the board upside down, or replace it.

5. Nail heads Warping, cupping, and foot traffic can gradually loosen nails so the heads protrude above the boards- a tripping hazard, or even worse in bare feet. Find them by dragging the back of a metal rake across the surface. When you hear the metal on metal ding, pull the nail, and drive a screw at least as long in its place.

6. Splinters To keep decks and railings safe to the touch, sand down small splinters, or cut them off and smooth out the depression left behind. For larger, knife-like splits on the edges of boards, fill the split with construction adhesive, clamp, and scrape away excess that oozes out. When the adhesive sets, use a sander to smooth the seams. (See the Rockwell Random Orbit Sander)

To learn more about the Rockwell Tools, visit

Category : How To
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