Deck Coatings & Their Care (Part 2)

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Frequent (at least once per year) inspections will help eliminate problems. Catching small problems before they become big problems can save considerable sums of money from having to be spent on framing repairs due to leaks. Summer is an ideal time to inspect decks, it isn’t raining and there is some time before the winter storms begin anew to get bids and make needed repairs. The inspection needn’t be a difficult thing to do; there are many things to look for that a layman can spot pretty easily. If the Association or management firm has a deck company that they trust, perhaps hiring them as an outside source to perform the inspections would work well. Digital cameras can be used to provide photo documentation of the conditions found, allowing the manager and Board to get an exact idea of the problems that they may be facing.

When doing your own inspections, it will be helpful to know what type of deck coating is on the decks. A brand name helps, but more importantly, knowing what type of material has been applied is better. Elastomeric, urethane, lightweight concrete and floating systems are typical coating materials in use on many decks. In knowing what type deck coating you have, you will be able to know how often the deck will need to be maintained.

Warning signs to look for on your deck inspection include cracks in the deck coating, nails popping through the coating from the subsurface, delaminating paint and bubbles in the coating surface. Any of these items found is a sign that the waterproof surface has been compromised. Owners should be looking for these warning signs too, as well as looking for stains on their ceiling or walls in the home below their deck. Metal flashing can be checked for signs of rust, pulling loose from the deck coating or if it is bent or broken.

If you find these problems on a deck, a simple check of the condition of the substrate underneath can be achieved by using your foot to check for softness. Be careful, it may be so soft that your foot could go through the deck in a worst-case scenario! Soft substrate is indicative of what could be a bigger problem underneath, dry-rotted framing and/or termites. The other hot button in today’s HOA world is mold and mildew. This may exist underneath also.

Another thing to look for when performing inspections is checking to see what’s on the deck-plants, tables, umbrellas, grills, carpet, etc. Table legs, grills, sharp objects and high heels can damage soft deck coatings. Plants in direct contact with the surface need to be raised up to allow air to circulate and dry off the water used to moisten the plants. Softer deck coatings aren’t always able to have these items in direct contact with the coating, often caster cups will need to be used to protect the coating.

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