Timber decking can be a beautiful addition to your home or business al fresco area. However, it is absolutely crucial, particularly in the business setting – whether at a hotel’s poolside or a café’s al fresco dining area – that the deck be properly maintained to preserve the safety of both your employees and your customers.
Over time, timber decking can deteriorate, which can result in it being unstable, potentially opening your business up to costly liability lawsuits. Luckily, there is plenty of evidence for you to watch out for in order to determine if your deck needs to be repaired or fully replaced.
Check for Localised Damage
Start with a preliminary visual inspection of your deck and look for any specific areas that are damaged. Check for wood warping, cracking or rotting. If the damage is isolated to a specific location, like underneath a potted plant or near a hose faucet, you may be able to repair or replace the wood in just that area, without needing to replace the entire deck.
Determine if the Damage Runs Deeper
If the damage is not centralised around a particular location, it may be a sign of serious internal damage, which will likely result in the need to replace the entire deck. Typically, by the time you can see evidence of damage on the outside, it is already widespread in the internal substructure of the wood. Possible causes of internal damage can include termites or rotting due to wet weather conditions. If you catch a termite infestation early enough, the damage might be minimal enough that you can get away with spot repairs, but this is usually not the case. As for rotting, this almost always requires a full replacement.
Test the Railings
Give the railings around the edge of your deck a firm shake. If they feel loose, it could be a sign of rotting or other damage that is not necessarily visible from the outside. The base of the railings should fit securely into the base of the deck with little or no wiggle room. Your railings keep deck pedestrians safe from falls, so this should be an area of high priority for you in conducting your inspections.
Evaluate the Fasteners
Check the areas around any screws or nails. The head of the fastener should lay flat against the wood, and there should be no space around the edges. Over time, the wood contracts and expands with the changes in the weather, which can result in fasteners beginning to work their way upwards and out of the wood. This contraction and expansion can also cause the wood to become uneven, creating edges that people can trip over, potentially injuring themselves.
Replacing your decking? Look out for better options
If you’ve determined that the damage to your deck is too far gone and the entire deck needs to be replaced, you should look into your options.
Installing a new timber deck is likely the first option you’d think of, but when it comes to decking is timber really worth it? You’ve just seen firsthand how quickly timber can rot, especially when around a damp area like poolside or a humid environment.
A better option is to replace your timber deck with composite materials. Here at NewTechWood, we specialise in creating composite wood materials that look just like the real thing but without the constant need for repair and replacement. Our composite decking is fully capped, preventing water damage, fading and staining. Although the initial cost is a little higher than timber, the investment is well worth it to protect your team and your customers.
We recently replaced some rotted timber decking for customers in Perth with composite decking and the results were fantastic – check out the before and after shots below!
With composite decking, your deck will look great for many years to come. To learn more about our composite materials, give us a call at (08) 9494 1051 or fill out our online contact form. We’ll be happy to help you start planning and designing a beautiful and safer deck for your al fresco area.