Even Decks Need Some TLC

Even Decks Need Some TLC

I grew up along the shores of Lake Ontario and winters in Upstate, N.Y. can be brutal.  Not just on a car or your back as you shovel foot after foot of snow, but homes take a beating too.  Decks are especially vulnerable to the ravages of weather but not so much  here in Chapin! In addition to being able to enjoy all Lake Murray has to offer for just about the whole year (to include not having to take the dock out of the water in “winter”), my deck loves the absence of ice, snow, freezing and thawing and the associated wear and tear those things bring.

Even in sunny South Carolina there are some things to keep in mind to keep your deck in tip top shape or to consider if you are thinking about adding a deck to your property.

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1. Weight-Bearing Board

The weight-bearing board connects the deck to your house, so it needs to be structurally sound. Check that the board is attached with ½-inch stainless or galvanized steel lag screws and bolts. If nails are attaching the deck to your home, replace them with proper hardware. If there is a gap between your house and the deck, tighten and secure the bolts.

2. Split or Decaying Wood

Decaying wood can be a deck’s worst enemy. Thoroughly inspect the following for rot and decay:

  • Ledger board

  • Support posts

  • Joists

  • Deck boards

  • Railings and stairs

You shouldn’t be able to push a sharp object through the wood. If you find that pieces of wood are easily peeling from the structure, you may have to replace rotting boards tosave your unstable deck.

3. Flashing

Flashing prevents rot around the boards of your deck. If the flashing is pulling away from the house -- look at the ledger board to be sure, since they are held together by screws -- you will need to tighten it. Ensure that caulk, which helps to protect the flashing, is intact. Also, check for and remove any mud or debris. Older flashing may require replacement, and if you don’t have the experience or knowhow, you might need tohire a professionaldeck contractor to do it for you.

4.Railings and Banisters

Railings and banisters help prevent physical injury that may result from falling from the deck. It’s important that they are secure at all times. Pull on railings and banisters periodically to ensure their stability. Also check their height and width; most local codes require the inclusion of railings at least three inches high and four inches apart to protect children and pets from harm. Older bolts and posts may require replacement.

Here is a great resource for all things related to decks from Home Advisor.


Stairs are another potential hazard that must be kept in working order at all times. The risers and stringers, which hold the steps up on their sides, must be securely attached. Also, according to most local codes, stair treads must be no more than 4 inches high (check with your local government office to be sure). Keep objects clear of stairs to prevent tripping injuries.

6.Deck Finish

Finish protects the deck boards from mold, mildew and pests. Older, worn down finishes may need to be reapplied. To extend the life and appearance of your finish:

  • Clean off any debris - leaves, dirt, etc. - that may cause mildew.

  • Refresh finish in any spots showing mildew or wear; also make sure finish contains a waterproof coating.

  • Power wash the deck - about$250 to $420to have it done professionally - if it shows significant signs of mildew. Then apply a new layer of waterproof finish.

So while you are sipping a cold one out on your deck this weekend, take a close look at it and see if it needs some attending to and if so, give it some TLC! 


Gary Heiligman Real Estate Professional advocating and negotiating on behalf of  Buyers and Sellers in  communities surrounding Lake Murray South Carolina including, ChapinIrmo, Lexington and Timberlake . Real Estate with Gary Heiligman associated with EXIT Midlands Realty, email garyscexit@gmail.com or call 803-271-9544

Maria Kitchens Headshot
Phone: 803-467-1694
Dated: August 21st 2015
Views: 1,451
About Maria: Maria Kitchens is a Real Estate Professional who has lived in Chapin, SC, for the past nine years wi...

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EXIT Midlands Realty
PO Box 807
Chapin, SC