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How to Tell If Deck Wood Is Rotten?

Without proper water sealing, wooden decks may experience wood rot. Water remaining on wood for long periods of time seeps into the porous surface, swelling deck planks. The absorbed water creates soft or spongy areas, rotting the wood and compromising the integrity of the deck. The deeper the wood rot, the more likely the wood needs replaced with new deck boards. A slight penetration of wood rot may allow you to save the wood by an application of water sealant to keep the wood from absorbing any more liquid.

Check for wood rot in your deck with a screwdriver.
  1. Check the deck wood for soft, spongy areas. Walk over the entire deck and stairs, feeling for soft spots by pressing with your shoe.

  2. Run your hand over the railings looking for spongy areas. Get under the deck and tap different areas with a screwdriver. Examine the deck posts for soft spots.

  3. Stick a screwdriver into any soft areas of the wood you find. If the screwdriver penetrates more than 1/2 inch deep, replace the wood piece. If the rot is less than 1/2 inch deep, apply a water sealant to the entire deck to stop wood rot from becoming worse.

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