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20-Year-Old Decks: Repair or Replace? | Best Rate

Best Rate Repair has been repairing decks for San Diego homeowners for 17 years. 9-year membership with NADRA (North America Deck and Railing Association. Jeff is certified as a Master Deck Builder and 3 estimator has full training in Deck Inspections using NADRA’s Deck Inspections recommendations.

The rails wobble, the nails snap, and Dad just limped in with a splinter.

Coniferous decks can last a long time depending on how well they are built, but it is not uncommon for cedar, pine or sequoia decks to last 10 to 20 years, after which they begin to disintegrate in ways that range from unsightly and troublesome to downright dangerous . “I built decks two years ago that we couldn’t do anything with,” says Phil Brown, owner of Archadeck of Central Connecticut in Wallingford, “and decks built 50 years ago where the frame was perfectly fine.”

Deck owners can sometimes afford repairs on their own, which usually means replacing the decking and railing. The last thing they want to hear is replace everything. But sometimes there is no choice. Failing siding or windows may look bad or leak, but a failing deck can collapse. Someone injured in a deck collapse – 6,500 people since 2003 according to a Chicago Tribune story two years ago—Can sue the homeowner for damages. Even the Kalka & Baer law firm in Atlanta advertises deck collapse disputes as one of his specialties. And if someone files a complaint, it quickly becomes the contractor’s liability.

What is clear and what is not?

Publicity surrounding deck collapse has prompted many municipalities to tighten deck construction standards before permits are issued. “Today” they are big on tying things down, “said Lou Pagnutti, whose Decks unique in Commack, NY, has been building decks on Long Island for decades. Still, Pagnutti on Long Island, which is full of homes built in the last fifty years, estimates that about half of his calls on deck relate to a request to replace the planks and rails on an existing structure, i.e. a re-deck. “We inspect the sub-structure,” he says, usually removing decking. “If it’s a questionable situation, we’ll replace it.”

The price difference between decking and rail replacement versus rebuilding it from scratch is often significant. Price is “always a tough question,” said Bryan Miller, president of Outback Deck in Woodstock, Georgia. For example, if a homeowner just wants new connectors and decking on a 12-by-15-foot wood deck, it could be “a $ 3,000 to $ 4,000 gig.” Rip off the whole thing – demo, dumpster rental, tow, new wood – “that could easily be $ 9,000 or $ 10,000, maybe $ 12,000 or $ 15,000 or more if they want a much more expensive finished product like Brazilian hardwood and expensive rails. “

Miller says the Outback Deck “will do a major repair if it’s a deck that’s young enough and we feel confident,” can be replanked and a new rail system added without compromising the safety and stability of the structure. to bring. “Young” means five to eight years old.

Check five criteria

“Most people will ask, how much will it cost and when can it be completed,” Miller says. “What we know is that we have to think differently.”

The Atlanta company adheres to the book and uses a six-page deck inspection form from the North American Deck and Rail Association (NADRA). The inspection focuses on five specific areas, three of which, Miller says, involve “ points of connection to the support posts or to the house. ” That is, post-to-footing, post-to-band, and band-to-house. In addition, the inspection looks at stair and handrail connections. The idea is to determine whether the deck “fails” – deteriorated but still in good shape – or is actually at risk of collapsing. That information, once determined, is supplemented by “photos of decks that have broken and decks that have collapsed,” says Miller. “We talk about the importance of understanding the nature of the current structure and why it should be replaced.”

Compare deck and frame life

In principle, Outback Decks is not against “saving” an older deck. But the company has developed systems that keep it away from builder liability situations. NADRA executive vice president, Mike Beaudry, estimates that roughly half of the 50 million US decks are at least 20 years old. Renowned deck builders must have a method of assessing a deck’s useful life, and a policy of determining when it is safe to repair here rather than replace it.

Then California contractor Andrew York owned Pro Deck Construction, gets a phone call about fixing a deck, often enough it is “20 years old and the sequoia is worn out. It has seen its life. The condition of the frame, York says, will determine whether or not the deck can be salvaged. If the frame material has not been pressure-treated and if it is unpainted, this is generally a lost cause.

York says when he goes to a job where “they just want to do the decking instead of the whole frame, I’ll explain that there is 5 to 10 years of life in the frame, that the new deck will take X and however long it will take. will last., and that they can replace the frame for X a lot more and that it will last as long as the deck. “If they want to save money, York says, they’ll just replace the deck, but” I’ll make sure it is it is clear that we only do the deck section, so we are not responsible if this deck breaks down. I make that clear in the scope of the work. “

There is “quite a significant cost difference” in framing because different parts of the area are at high risk of fire. At Pro Deck Construction, a standard deck plan must meet the San Diego County Fire Code, using heavy-duty timber frame construction on the theory that “larger frame sections are slower to ignite.” For York, such situations become an opportunity to propose steel frames, which he estimates that 10 percent of replacement customers choose to use.

Sound frame, crappy decking

About 25 percent of the calls Brown receives are for repair. “Our rule of thumb is, if the framing is good, but the decking is worthless, which often happens, we will do everything we can to reuse as much of it as possible.” Brown says “35 or 40 percent” of the re-decks are in pretty good shape. But if the homeowner wants a heavier deck board – say, a composite, which is typically twice as heavy as wood – or a decorative design, the company may need to create additional frame support. “If it’s a simple patio and they want to turn part of it into a porch, we need to add pedestals.” But if repairing the frame only saves a few grand, “you might be better off replacing the whole deck.”

Miller says that while Outback Deck began marketing its willingness to do deck repairs, that is more difficult these days. A typical phone call could be someone planning to sell the house and just want the deck put in a representative shape. It is, he says, almost his own business. “If you’re going to do deck repair and advertise, you can expect 75 calls a month and you need to have a process to send a guy out and sell that job and do that repair right on the spot and move on to the next, ” he says. The current job market in Atlanta makes that almost impossible: “It is not easy to find men who can carry out deck repairs.”

Item credited to:

Jim Cory – Senior contributing editor – professional remodeler

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