rotting deck boards

Don’t Let Your Deck Collapse Under You: Everything You Need to Know About Dry Rot

Are you looking to sustain the life of your deck for years to come? Do you want to learn all that you can about keeping it in good shape? If so, then you should know all that you can about rotting deck boards and dry rot, one of the biggest threats to your deck.

Deck dry rot is when the wood in your deck starts to decay because of poor ventilation in the surrounding area. You’ll notice cracks in the wood and some fungus growth.

See below for an in-depth guide on dry rot and what you can do to actively prevent it from happening at your deck.

What Causes Dry Rot?

As with anything else that has to do with wood construction, your deck’s worst enemy – is trapped moisture. Being outside, it’s going to be exposed to water, but when that water has no way to escape, moisture locks inside the wood in your deck.

Whenever there’s an excessive amount of rain or water, there’s room for concern for fungus growth. The fungus forms in poorly-ventilated areas of your deck and starts to eat away at the wood. 

In no time at all, you’ll notice that your wood is starting to gain more cracks or form a powdery substance. This is due to the dry rot digesting the wood and sabotaging its integrity.

Essentially, the wood-digesting fungus eats away at the essential nutrients inside your timber, such as cellulose and hemicellulose. The more it eats away at those nutrients. The more disfigured your wood will appear.

When building your deck, ensure that you give your timber the proper protection from water. Hire a deck staining and sealing service to give your deck a coating that prevents moisture from getting trapped inside the wood.

What Are the Signs of Dry Rot?

Just to clarify, many different things can lead to your deck’s wood being damaged. Things like fallen branches, debris, excessive weight, pests, or just regular wear and tear could lead to the wood losing its shape.

Just because you start to see cracks in your wood doesn’t automatically mean you’re dealing with dry rot.

The primary way to tell the difference between dry rot and any other form of damage is the quality of the wood. If you push down or step on your deck and notice that the wood feels soft or “spongy,” there’s reason to believe that you have a dry rot problem.

Take a tool (such as a screwdriver or the backend of a hammer) and push it into one part of the wood. If it leaves a perfect indent without much pushback, then your wood has moisture locked inside. 

For those of you that painted your deck or are looking to, you might also notice that the paint is starting to bubble. Wherever there is paint bubbling, there is moisture that’s trapped inside.

Be sure to pay special attention to the beams on your deck. While they might not look compromised on the exterior, they might be rotting from the inside out.

How Can You Prevent Dry Rot?

Perhaps you’re being proactive and looking up preventative measures for protecting your deck from dry rot. Maybe it’s already started on your deck, and you’re unsure of what to do.

It’s always better to be proactive than reactive to dry rot. See below for several techniques that you can hire a professional deck cleaning service to perform.

Exterior Cleaning
Before you start staining, painting, or sealing your deck, you’ll want to invest time to clean your deck thoroughly. 

This allows you the opportunity to remove all dust, debris, greenery, soot, and germs from the surface. If your deck is starting to show its age, a power wash can help it get back to its former glory!

An effective deck cleaning process includes power washing, chemical washing, hand cleaning, and so on. A deck cleaning service will look at the condition of your deck and customize its process to fit the deck’s needs.

Waterproofing, Sealing, or Staining
As previously mentioned, the best way to prevent dry rot is through preventative measures such as waterproofing and sealing. This gives your deck a waterproof coat to endure the elements of your region. It can also protect from dirt and discoloration.

Staining services will allow you the chance to protect your wood while giving it a unique color and shine. Think of a beautiful cabin in the woods as a point of reference. This allows you to preserve the wood’s natural look over many years.

If you’re not sure which route to take, be sure to ask a professional deck staining service for guidance. They can highlight your best options to help you make the right choice.

Deck Repairs
So your deck already has signs of dry rot. That doesn’t mean that all hope is lost, and you need to replace your deck. 

A deck service can provide many different types of repairs to stop the dry rot from spreading. 

A trusted deck repair service can help you figure out all the repairs you’ll need, then give you a cost-efficient quote to perform those services as soon as possible.