Los Angeles wooden arbor, pergola, patio cover, fence, deck, driveway gate, entry gate, garden gate, tree house and play house designer and builder.

Peter A. Kirsch-Korff

Wood Arbors, Decks, Fences & Gates - Builder


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Redwood Deck (Termites) - Glendale / Los Angeles 
Redwood Deck (Inspection) - Glendale / Los Angeles      Redwood Deck (Rot) - Glendale / Los Angeles     Redwood Deck (Termites) - Glendale / Los Angeles      Redwood Deck (Termites) - Glendale / Los Angeles 

Los Angeles Redwood Deck Framing - Glendale, California       Los Angeles Redwood Deck Board Pattern - Glendale, CA      Los Angeles Redwood Deck Ventilation - Gelndale, CA     New Stepwell for a Redwood Deck - Glendale / Los Angeles, CA     New Redwood Deck - Glendale / Los Angeles, California

Replacing A Deck: (Old Story)

Are you trying to figure out if your deck just needs some minor repairs or is bad enough that it needs to be replaced? Are you curious to learn how and where most decks start to rot?

If so, you might be interested in this deck story which walks you through the process of discovering exactly what to look for to determine when a deck has reached the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced.

 

The Story Begins With ...

I received a call one evening with a request to come take a look at a deck. The homeowner had recently noticed some problems and wanted an estimate for what it would cost to fix it. Of course, the only way to tell is to closely inspect the deck and find out not only what the problems are, but what is causing them.

 

An Aside About What To Look For ...

Determining the cause is very important, because in about 80% of the cases I see, the deck substructure has reached the end of its life span as rot and termites take their toll. Typically, unless the damage is caused by a specific factor and localized, the first small signs of problems indicate the beginning of wide spread substructure failures.

 

Local Damage Usually Means Repair

Localized damage factors are usually pretty easy to spot and repair. One example is a plant container sitting on top of the deck boards that has overflowed so often that wet rot has started to decay the deck boards, which are discolored, damp and mushy only under the container. Another is where termite damage is caught early and only one small area is effected.

Since I no longer do repair work, I refer the homeowner to someone else. If you need to find someone who does small repair jobs or a handyman, try these related links.

 

Structural Damage Usually Means Replacement

If a deck is at the end of its life span, there usually are clear signs. The deck frame begins to sag as rot makes the wood susceptible to termites. Termites eat their way through the wood, creating channels that allow water to seep in and accelerate the rotting process. This makes the wood even more vulnerable to termites, and starts an accelerating decay process that usually occurs throughout the entire substructure.

Common signs you can look for that indicate the deck is at the end of its life span include and needs to be replaced:

  • railing posts that are weak or loose
  • nails and screws do not hold when secured into the frame members
  • rot is visible around the outer edges of the deck frame
  • deck surface is spongy to walk on
  • deck has soft spots that give when walked on

However, the best way to tell is to have a professional come and assess the status of your deck. Which is exactly what this homeowner did. And since the symptoms sounded like the damage was structural, we set up a convenient time to meet so I could inspect her deck and give her a good idea of her options.

 

Back To The Story ...

Once I arrived, the first clue came from walking across the deck. It gave under my weight in two key areas. Not a good sign. Next, I pulled up about 8 deck boards in the soft areas and took a look. First of all, I noticed the frame was substandard. The framing beams were undersized, too few and spaced too far apart. Even worse, the wood was not pressure treated. (In my personal opinion, pressured treated wood is an absolute must for framing and other substructures to ensure that the framing has enough protective power to withstand the onslaught of rot and termites.)

 

First Look at the Deck

A first look after pulling up 8 boards. The framing is too far apart to adequately support the decking.

Redwood Deck (Inspection) - Glendale / Los Angeles

 

Next, I noticed that rot had destroyed the integrity of the joists and one of the most impressive termite infestations I had ever seen was at my feet.

 

Detailed Look at the Existing Deck

A close up of the framing shows rot has destroyed the beam.

Redwood Deck (Rot) - Glendale / Los Angeles

 

 

More Deck Framing Decay

More decay is seen in the far frame member which has also started to rot.

Redwood Deck (More Rot) - Glendale / Los Angeles

 

 

Under Deck Termite Infestation

Live termites were moving along this wall just behind the wood.

Redwood Deck (Termites) - Glendale / Los Angeles

 

I called the client over and had her take a look at the extent of the damage both rot and termites had done, which had been hidden by the deck boards. In this case, repair was not an option. The whole deck was at the end of its life and needed to be replaced.

Sometimes, when the damage is less severe, homeowners wonder about the tradeoffs of repair versus replacement. In those cases, I try to present their options and the tradeoffs, so the homeowner can make an informed decision. When a deck has started to decay in one area, usually it is only a matter of time before other areas start to show signs of decay too. So, investments made to repair the problem area do buy you time. But only until the next area decays to the point where it needs to be fixed. Each time you invest in buying more time, you need to weigh the cost of the short term extension of use versus the cost of a new deck averaged over its lifetime to see when it makes sense to replace the entire deck.

Since repair was not an option with this deck, the homeowner asked me to give her an estimate for a replacement. We discussed what she wanted in a new deck. She wanted the same size and height, but a step well add to the driveway entrance and the deck boards re-oriented to run parallel to the house. Because the deck was so close to the ground (and rot had been a primary factor in destroying the current deck), I suggested widening the gap between the deck boards and adding vents to increase the amount of under deck ventilation. These would help reduce the opportunity for wet rot to occur.

So I worked up an estimate with several options and delivered a written copy to her a week later for her review. A few days after that, she called me to approve the estimate and book my building her a new redwood deck. A couple of days before starting, I dropped by to discuss construction details, like where to stack the new materials and tools, as well as arranging for access to electrical power and a bathroom.

 

And Here Is When The Fun Begins ...

 

Day One

I demolished the old deck and hauled the remains to the dump.

 

Day Two

I set steel column bases in new concrete and let it harden for 2 days.

 

Day Three & Four

While the concrete was hardening, I carefully selected the pressure treated lumber for the framing and stacked it in the yard, ready to go.

 

Day Five, Six & Seven

I built the frame for the deck.

 

Redwood Deck Framing

The deck framing of pressure treated wood, with additional preservative (colored green) coating the tops of the beams where the wood and decking boards meet.

Redwood Deck Framing - Glendale / Los Angeles

 

Day Eight & Nine

The new redwood deck boards were installed parallel to the house wall and I used a "square stitch" pattern to create an appealing way to deal with the need to lay multiple boards to cover the length of the deck.

 

Redwood Deck Board Pattern

A close up view of the square stitch pattern I used when laying the boards to create a visually appealing pattern.

Los Angeles Redwood Deck Board Pattern - Glendale, CA

 

Day Ten

To create more ventilation under the deck, I increased the board gap and made slots to install vents along the house wall. I also finished out the step well.

 

Los Angeles Deck Ventilation

To make up for a lack of under deck ventilation, I made custom deck vents all around the edges and used double wide spacing between the boards.

Los Angeles Redwood Deck Ventilation - Gelndale, CA

 

New Redwood Deck Steps

The new step well entrance to the completed deck.

New Stepwell for a Redwood Deck - Glendale / Los Angeles, CA

 

Day Eleven

I cleaned up the edges and finished the deck.

New Redwood Deck

The completed redwood deck ready for use.

New Redwood Deck - Glendale / Los Angeles, California

 

 

 

Permission is granted to anyone who wants to
use my work for inspiration outside of the LA area.


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Serving the Los Angeles area communities of Altadena, Arcadia, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Bradbury, Brentwood, Chino Hills, Claremont, Diamond Bar, Encino, Glendale, Glendora, Granada Hills, Hancock Park, Hidden Hills, Hollywood, La Canada Flintridge, La Crescenta-Montrose, Los Angeles, Los Feliz, Malibu, Monrovia, Northridge, North Hills, Pacific Palisades, Pasadena, Pomona, Porter Ranch, Rancho Cucumonga, San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, South Pasadena, Studio City, Van Nuys, West Hills, West Hollywood, Westwood, and West Los Angeles.

California Licensed Contractor #701028