How to Reinforce a Deck
Lumber is a cheap, durable, and strong material. You should rethink your materials if you’re not using lumber when building a deck or any other structure requiring heavy use. Decks can easily crack and splinter if not reinforced with a material or design that prevents these things from happening. Many people think that deck boards should flex and bend as the deck moves, but this is not the case. The board requires support from a railing system or other deck railing to bear the weight of the boards and timber.
The main spine of any deck should be made of pressure-treated, high-quality lumber, while the sides and ends can be made up of select exterior-grade wood that meets certain standards. The wood needs to be seamless to prevent the decks from splitting.
Any cracks or splinters will weaken this rather important structure and could lead to someone tripping on it and falling off. Here are some tips on how to reinforce a deck with lumber.
1. Use Treated Lumber for the Support Posts and Joists
The backbone of any deck is the framework that holds it all together and allows it to stand upright. The wood needs to support the weight of people, furniture, and other items placed on the deck, so use treated lumber for these posts. This will help prevent the wood from rotting in a very damp area.
The main support beams should be spaced every 16 feet apart, and you should also use smaller supports as cross braces or tie into the larger beams every eight feet. Attach everything properly before securing it with screws.
2. Install Flashing Around the Support Posts
You may have noticed that the deck posts are uneven. This will help protect the integrity of the wood, but it can also give a DIYer some trouble when trying to tie into the posts. Use flashing around the post to prevent chipping and peeling of the wood around these vital supports. A lumber company should be able to cut these for you before you put them in.
Use 1-inch-thick galvanized steel flashing purchased at your local hardware store. Galvanized flashing is non-rusting; bolts may rust if left in wet soil. You should also put down a small layer of wood mulch over these posts to prevent moisture from seeping during adverse weather conditions or high winds. This will help prevent the rotting of this essential support structure.
3. Use Galvanized or Stainless Steel Hardware
The screws used for the support beams should be galvanized or stainless steel to prevent rusting and corrosion. These materials can be left in the soil for short periods, but you should always check them for signs of rusting before using them.
Galvanized screws are more expensive than stainless steel screws, and they’re more vulnerable to rust, but they’re extremely effective at preventing nails from breaking so that wood doesn’t lunge and break away from the wood structure.
4. Use a Moisture Barrier Between the Decking and the Joists
For this project, you’ll need to use a moisture barrier between the deck board and the joists. You can put down tar paper, or the lumber can be framed with wooden tongue-and-groove boards or treated lumber. It’s best to use materials that don’t stain and are weather-resistant to prevent any damage from occurring.
5. Use a Wood Sealant or Stain
You’ll need to use a wood sealant or stain to protect the wood from the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation and water damage. It would help if you used an exterior paint that is weather-resistant and doesn’t stain the wood like oil-based paints.
This will help prevent the deck boards from rotting, cracking, or splintering. Reinforcing a deck can also be done with a wood preservative or finish that dries quickly and will act as a barrier to protect the wood from moisture damage.
6. For added strength, install gripple bracing on posts to reinforce a deck
The supports and posts need to be extremely strong to support and serve as a foundation for the deck. Use gripple bracing between every other post and support beam to strengthen them, so they can hold up against the elements and bear heavier objects. Reinforcing a deck with lumber will also save you money because you won’t need to purchase new posts, beams, and joists.
7. Add a Timber Lift Mechanism
You’ll also need to add a timber lift mechanism to the deck. This will allow the weight of heavier objects to be distributed equally across the deck and not placed on just one end, which could cause the wood to buckle and split.
You can purchase this lift mechanism or make it yourself by creating a series of pulleys hooked to different supports to transfer weight. Another option is utilizing rollers or casters under each timber beam so you can easily move heavy items around the area where you’re working on building your deck.
8. Consider Installing a Deck Cover or Awning
Property owners building decks will often face harsh weather conditions and cloudy days.
Consider installing a deck cover or awning to protect the wood from sunlight, rain, and other dangerous elements that can weaken or destroy it over time. In addition, you’ll need to place a stringer board underneath to support the cover and keep it from blowing over in high winds.
9. Use Strong and Durable Decking Materials
You should use strong and durable materials, such as composite or hardwood, for your decking. These materials may be more expensive, but they will last for years. You can purchase these in sheets 24 feet long if you need to cover areas larger than 10 feet by 10 feet. These boards can result in a smooth deck surface that doesn’t have the cracks and splinters associated with natural wood.
10. Keep the Deck Clean and Free of Debris
Keep your deck free of debris so it doesn’t rot, crack, or split and become unusable in a few years. The wood becomes susceptible to damage if constantly exposed to mud, leaves, and other decaying vegetation.
Add a layer of sand or an anti-skid material around the perimeter of the decking, and then cover it with turf if you need to know how much moisture will be present. You should also remove all plants from under the deck, as they can accumulate water in their roots and cause damage to the wood surface.
11. Regularly Inspect the Deck
Inspect the deck for signs of damage or wear regularly, and address any issues promptly. Use a pressure washer when necessary to remove dirt and debris that could cause more damage to the deck. Replace the deck boards every few years when they begin to crack and split to prolong their lifespan.
Enjoy the outdoors while it’s raining, snowing, or just too hot to be in the sun. A screened-in porch is utilized for many different purposes, so you’ve covered all your bases when installing it. When creating this type of structure, you want to ensure that you pay close attention to all the details so that no mistakes occur during construction.
If you do this correctly and invest in various high-quality materials and tools, your deck should last a long time without needing any repairs or upgrades. How to reinforce a deck also includes the screening process because you’ll want to get the best material to prevent pests from entering the porch.
Visit Peninsular Lumber in Tampa Bay for Decking and Lumber and Get What You Need to Reinforce a Deck
For over 75 years, Peninsular Lumber has provided high-quality lumber and lumber supplies to residents and custom home builders in Tampa Bay!
If you’re building or updating your deck, visit our lumber company in Tampa Bay and work with our team to get the building materials and deck supplies you need today.