Troubleshooting And Repairing Warped Wooden Decks

Warped boards on your deck can be a hazardous problem. If ignored, a few warped boards can compromise the structural integrity of the entire deck.

Problems With Warping

Warped boards pose all sorts of issues on your deck. The most obvious is that it is a safety issue -- warped boards are often loose, so they pose a tripping hazard or present the risk of putting a foot through the decking. Further, once warped, they become more prone to cracking and breakage, particularly when you put weight on them. This can lead to splinters and other injuries when walking across the deck.

The warped boards also pose a risk to the deck itself. As the boards bend, they may pop out nails and decking screws. This can affect both the board that is warped as well as the support truss beneath it. Nail and screw holes provide an inlet for moisture, which can lead to wood swelling and rot. Further, warped boards are often already affected by rot, which can easily spread to the rest of the deck.

Warping Causes

Decking boards usually warp as a result of moisture, so it is a common problem on older decks. You are more likely to see a warped board on a deck that hasn't been kept painted or sealed. This is because the wood fibers have absorbed moisture and they are now affected by swelling and shrinking cycles.

If a new deck has warped boards, then the problem could be with the lumber itself. When constructing a deck, only select straight boards with a tight grain. Quartersawn and rift-sawn boards are less likely to warp compared to standard flat-sawn boards.

Repair and Restoration

Repair begins with assessing the reason for warping. If the issue is with the lumber, the only effective option may be to replace the weak boards before warping becomes a problem across the entire deck. If the lumber is in relatively good condition except for a few boards, then replacing those that have warped is all that is necessary.

To prevent warping going forward, the deck needs to be resealed or repainted annually so that the boards can't absorb moisture any longer. It's also a good idea to have the decking nails and screws inspected and tightened annually. These can work loose over time, which can allow spaces for water to seep into the nail and screw holes.

Contact a deck repair contractor if you are having issues with a warped deck.