Why Annual Inspections of Your Waterproof Decks and Stairs Pays Rather Than Costs

In a recent blog post on their website, Deck Tech, one of our competitors, put forth the proposition  that “All Deck Coatings Fail”… when asked if a deck coating application will last for (the) life of structure if installed correctly? 

Ron McKenna, owner of Deck Tech, then contradicts himself by saying that the deck coating in the example he gives failed because of faulty installation.  So as “bold” as Ron McKenna’s claim is, it’s a half truth.

There is a big difference between “fail” and “wear out”. A car’s engine will fail if you don’t change the oil every 5,000 miles (perform maintenance). A cars engine will wear out after 300,000 miles of driving when you changed the oil, radiator coolant and performed all other normal and regular maintenance. The pistons will wear, the cylinders will pit, but that’s something we expect after driving all those miles. But that car will have paid for itself many times over with the small costs of maintenance over 10-12 years vs driving it for 2-3 years and never changing the oil and the engine blows up. The cost to replace the engine is the same, but the cost per mile is significantly lower when that car was driven for 300,000 miles before having to replace it vs driving it for 60,000 miles.  .

Buildings are designed and built for a  long life span; heck we see buildings that are hundreds of years old that are still standing tall. Maintenance and repairs have kept them standing. Homes and structures are built with many different components that have various life spans. Some components are intended to last the life of the building-framing for example. Other components have finite life spans. Paint for example provides some weather resistance to your siding, but will not last for much more than 5-10 years before needing to be reapplied.  Deck coatings are a component that can last a long time…with a big BUT…

The truth is that all deck coatings have a finite lifespan. Some coatings are designed to last 12-15 years and others have a 30 + year life expectancy…with the majority in the middle somewhere. These finite maximum life spans are usually only obtainable when three things occur.

1.)  The framing and plywood substrate the coating is applied to is built to the highest standards of construction, not to the minimum standard. When a builder/contractor says to me that they built the deck to meet code, I say it’s like getting a C on a test. Yes , you passed, but mediocrity in the framing assembly may mean the deck coating assembly will not last for it’s intended life span.   Over-building a deck with 2×12″ joists with screws and glue fastening the  1 1/8″ plywood will provide a much better foundation to waterproof over than a deck with 5/8″ plywood and smooth shank nails fastening it down.

2.) The deck coating system has been installed correctly. This is very important. A deck coating assembly that is improperly installed has almost zero chance of lasting for it’s intended life span even with regular maintenance. Coatings must be applied to meet the manufacturer’s minimum application thickness. A coating that needs to be at least 3/16″ thick will probably not last 20 years if it’s only installed at 1/8″ thick. Coatings need to be lapped up the vertical rise of L flashing,  decks need proper sloping to drain water off an edge or to floor drains.  There are multiple minute details that must be performed properly or even the best system will meet an early demise.

3.)The deck coating system is inspected and maintained on a regular basis. All deck waterproofing systems must be inspected annually for signs of  problems. Many coating systems such as urethanes and especially DeckTech’s Granite Deck  MUST be maintained with regular applications of UV resistant sealants/paints that protect the waterproofing. The paint/sealant is like a sunblock one applies to their skin to protect it from the damaging effects of UV. Without regular applications of sun blocking sealants, the coating WILL fail from UV degradation. Once UV has damaged a coating, it’s downhill from there with a shortened life expectancy. , Other coating systems such as our Desert  Crete cement based system only need to be painted to maintain their aesthetic appearance.  Cement is basically impervious to UV damage.

Decks Fail Due to Lack of Inspections, Lack of Maintenance and/or From Being Improperly Installed. 

Not a week goes by it seems without our company receiving a phone call or email inquiry from a client who has a leaking deck or stairs saying “It’s just a small leak.”

The  client may have noticed a water stain on their ceiling below the roof deck, maybe  they found a soft spot by a drain…any number of reasons can trigger that phone call or filling out our VIP lead/contact from our website.

Sadly, we discover that many of these “small” leaks have caused extensive hidden damage underneath that creates an expense that no one anticipated.

The slideshow of photograph’s below show a number of decks that failed due to lack of maintenance and/or they were improperly installed and detailed.

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In almost every example in this slideshow, an annual inspection probably would have found the small seemingly innocuous symptoms of an ailing deck and with regular maintenance and repairs, prevented a much larger problem from developing.

So many times we hear our clients say “I never knew I had to inspect or maintain.” They unfortunately believe that their home is “maintenance free” with stucco siding, a tile covered roof and a coating on their deck.

Central Coast  Waterproofing offers free (offer limited to individual homes that are not for sale or in escrow) visual inspections of deck coatings-whether it’s our system or one of our competitors systems.

We inspect decks using  a list of approximately 25 different critical areas.   We inspect the deck and the related components-flashings, railings, siding, any penetrations through the deck or in components above it. We check the floor for squeaks, indicating moving plywood, we check the scuppers or drains to ensure they are clear and the coating materials are properly adhered.

So often we find that the deck itself is fine, but that satellite dish that was installed…well it’s causing or may cause a leak because Bluto, the dolt who installed it, doesn’t care about your weather resistant barrier he just punctured during the installation.

Inspections are extremely important. Don’t neglect your deck coating or you risk getting an ugly unexpected surprise in a large cost to repair framing and interior finishes.

Maintenance doesn’t cost, it pays. Consider that the average cost of  maintenance is around $500-$1,000.00 every three to five years; now  compare that cost to the average cost of a full deck replacement plus framing and plywood replacement at around $5,000- $20,000.

 

Get your free, no obligation deck inspection done by the professional’s at Central Coast Waterproofing. We have the experience and know how to inspect the critical areas that so often are the source of so much heartache.

Have deck project you are ready to start? Get a free no obligation quote on our Desert Crete decking system and start your deck off on the right  foot.

Call Bill Leys, The Deck Expert, at 805-545-8300 today and schedule your inspection or quote. If you’d rather send us a VIP request via our contact form below.

 

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