How Does Weather Affect Your Deck?

Posted on Posted in Deck Maintenance

If you live in Southern California and are fortunate enough to have a wood deck, it is one of the areas in your home where you presumably spend a lot of time in just enjoying the outdoors with friends or family to hang out and chill or simply spend some time alone relaxing the worries and stress of everyday life. If this is indeed true for you, it is a given that you would want to maintain your deck in excellent condition to take advantage of its benefits for a longer period of time. The very fact that your deck is outdoors exposes it to the elements and this can take a toll on your deck.

How does weather affect your wood deck? When wood or lumber is exposed to the sun for long periods of time without protection, the UV rays degrade the substances that make up lumber and weaken its structure and bonds. When this happens, it results to cracks. Sunlight also affects the color of your deck. Its natural hue can fade over time and/or turn gray.

Water has a different, though no less destructive effect on wood. When wood is inundated by water, it becomes softer. The repetitive cycle of wood getting wet and drying up results to weakening. This can result to rot, mildew, and warping.

In cold winter months, ice can possibly form. Dew that forms at night may seep in to minute cracks in your deck and freeze when temperature drops. As we all know, water expands as it freezes to ice. As it expands, water that has seeped in cracks will also enlarge the existing cracks.

If your wood deck is fairly new, these effects may not be evident — yet. There is no avoiding weather especially in these times of climate change and extreme weather conditions. By the time you notice fading color, cracks, rot, et cetera, it may be more difficult and costly to repair. An excellent idea would be to keep your wood deck in tiptop shape by doing some simple things.

Protect your deck by sealant or stain. This will help shield the wood from the constant exposure to sunlight, rain, and ice. “The ideal deck finish does three things,” says Charles Jourdain, vice president of technical services at the California Redwood Association, a lumber-industry trade group. “It repels water, preserves the wood with a mildewcide, and screens out UV rays.”

Deck finishes may be oil-based or water-based. Oil-based finishes penetrate deeper into the wood and provide more and longer-lasting protection. Water-based finishes are easier to clean up than oil-based products.

Sealants are usually clear while stains are available with a little pigmentation, semi-transparent, and in solid colors. Clear deck finishes are popular for wood decks as this shows the natural grain of the wood and is visually appealing, but aren’t as good at blocking UV rays. Lightly pigmented and semi-transparent finishes add color to the deck, allows the grain to show through, and forms and effective barrier from the harmful rays of the sun. Solid colored finishes are the most effective in blocking UV rays but are not really formulated for foot traffic.

Allow ventilation. The lumber in your wood deck will be healthier if there is a decent gap between decking boards. The gap allows airflow between boards and prevents any mold or mildew from growing and gives the wood room to expand and contract as the weather changes from day to day. It can also act as drainage to prevent water from pooling on the deck surface.

Cover that deck. Providing a cover for you deck area will dramatically reduce the harmful effects of extreme weather conditions. It will reduce the amount of direct sunlight as well as limit the amount of water that will rest on your deck.

There are many different options you can choose from depending on your taste and needs as well as complementing your overall home design. You may want to add a pergola — vertical posts or pillars that usually support crossbeams and a sturdy open lattice to support climbing vines that can provide your deck cover. Modern pergola designs opt to have canvas, wood, vinyl, fiberglass or aluminum covers instead of plants.

A roof above your deck is another way to protect the wood. It may be a permanent structure or it may also be retractable so you can enjoy the sun while protecting your deck while you are not using it. Other cover choices are awnings and canopies.

What can you do if your wood deck has cracks, infested with mold, mildew or insects, and/or has a faded appearance? Or, maybe you haven’t seen any of these on your deck but as you’re reading through this article, you are worried about the condition of your deck. What can you do aside from the simple steps mentioned in this article? It may be time to call on a professional decking contractor. Westside Company in Los Angeles can conduct a through inspection of your deck and help you in maintaining your deck as well as repairing whatever damage your deck has sustained from the elements.

Westside Company is a premier contractor that provides decking contracting services to Venice, Santa Monica, Malibu, Westwood, Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Long Beach, Bellflower, Torrence, and the rest of South Bay. We have over two decades of experience in maintaining and repairing decks. We are able to diagnose if there is a problem with your deck, collaborate with you on options you may take, and work on it until it is in perfect condition.

Call us at 310 994 4626 or send an e-mail at westsidewaterproofing@gmail.com. We will happily work with you to find out the best solutions to your problems. We are committed to giving you the best experience and customer service allowing you to have many more glorious years on your deck.

Other deck materials such as vinyl, PVC, and composite are not as affected by extreme weather conditions as wood is; nevertheless, it still needs to be regularly maintained to keep it in its original beauty and durability. Westside Company also maintains and repairs decks made of such materials. Whatever your decking problems are, Westside Company has a solution for it.

(Photo from decoist.com)
(Photo from decoist.com)