Deck Building Dont’s
Termites and wood rot often accompany each other because of lack of foresight on the builders part. If your contractor builds the deck first, and then stains or paints the deck, the damage has already been done! Experience with termites and wood rot has taught builders a much better approach to the age old problem plaguing Custom Decks and Porches.
Primer is used as an underlay on any surface to be painted. Primer is meant to bond deep into the woods grain and allow other paints or stains to properly bond to the woods surface. If no primer is used, the paint or stain applied will not properly adhere to the woods surface. Redwood hates to be painted. Quite often, when the redwood gets to be about seven to ten years old the owner decides to paint it. Six months later, all the work has blistered and peeled off. Redwood has tannic acid in it’s wood that specifically resists paint or stain. That is why paint stores offer a specific primer just for redwood. That termites do not eat redwood is a myth. They do! Add termite poison (Copper Sulfate) to the primer coat.
Prime and paint or stain all six sides of the the wood prior to construction. That way, once you have laid the boards down, they will have already been primed and painted, thus not allowing an access route for the termites or the water. If you have built the deck with virgin wood, and then paint it after it is done (like so many people and contractors do), it will lead to problems. Wood shrinks and settles over time. When it does, the wood that did not get painted is then exposed. The exposed woods allows the moisture to wick into the woods interior like a sponge, and gets trapped inside. Termites see the unpainted wood made soft by the water and attack. They like the water content in the wood.
Putting a gap in the wood to allow for proper drainage helps allow the wood to drain, but also allows it to breath. On a hot day, the breeze often can blow the cooler air trapped from under the deck up through the gaps in the decking and create a cool breeze.Using treated wood near the ground is very important. If you can not afford the added expense of treated wood, you can treat the wood yourself. Douglass Fir is a hardwood, and is not too expensive. You can prime the wood used as sub structure plus add a good amount of termite poison into the primer coat.
That will take a bite out of their appetite.Use a raised footing. When a post is attached to the ground, it usually is set in concrete with a metal strap.Too often, the steel is set into the footing like planting a tree. The water puddles at the base of the post and rot begins. Use a 2″x 6″ cut 1 foot x 1 foot and nail it into a square. Place that atop your footing and fill it with concrete. Place your steel strap in the center of the square.
Once the concrete has dried, strip your form. Now the water can not rot the wood should a puddle be formed. Grade dirt below deck substructure to allow space between dirt and deck. (8″-12″). In some parts of the U.S. Subterranean termites bore up from underground so an air gap is encouraged.Screw your decking boards down, don’t use just nails. Screws keep it so much tighter, so that nothing can get through the gap because it is so tight. Statistics show that screwed decks last 50 % longer than decks attached with just nails.Use only 100 % acrylic exterior paint or stain. Cheaper paints last half the time or less and in the long run are a waist of time and money. You want your paint or stain to decay over time so your deck wood does not.
Once your deck has been built properly, please do not be afraid to re-coat the deck’s surface every 5 years to keep it looking nice for years to come, and unlike a composite, with a real deck, you can change the color as often as your wife tells you too!