We all agree that water is a source of life. It provides so many beautiful things for humans that it seems sacrilegious to say anything bad about it. But if you’re a homeowner and water is leaking into parts of your house, you will have some negative things to say about it.
Take your deck, for instance. If it’s properly constructed, waterproofed, and free of cracks, your deck can be a source of enjoyment for many years. However, if water makes its way past its surface, you can look forward to frustration and, in some cases, great expense.
Water that comes in large amounts or seeps into the wrong areas can be a very destructive force. When this happens, do you know how to complete deck repair for leaks?
It doesn’t always have to be that way. There are do-it-yourself solutions that can keep the irritation and the cost to a minimum. Look at two types of deck repair options and the issues you may encounter:
1. Concrete Decks
Homeowners choose concrete for upper and lower decks for a variety of reasons. The two biggest reasons are durability and cost. Unlike a typical wood deck, the maintenance on concrete is less time-consuming and costly. Wood decks tend to splinter and warp, plus they need regular sealing.
Concrete surfaces can now be made to look like wood, tile, or pavers so that homeowners can get a variety of aesthetically pleasing looks with the resilience of concrete. Although concrete can crack and allow water leaks, in most cases a do-it-yourselfer can take care of the problems by following some simple steps.
2. Plywood with a Waterproof Surface
The majority of decks are made from individual boards instead of plywood. However, plywood decking has its advantages—the material is less expensive, and because you’re using large sheets, it doesn’t take as long to install it.
The decking material, marine plywood that’s usually no less than ¾” thick, is mounted on top of the decking joists. Marine plywood is a good choice because it’s made so that there are no gaps or voids between the layers, leaving less room for trapped moisture.
Unlike decks made with individual boards, water can pool on the surface of a plywood deck. If it remains there, you could face issues that include mold and rot. A waterproof coating and proper sloping can usually eliminate the problem of standing water.
Deck Repair for Leaks in Concrete
If you have a major issue with your concrete deck repair, you might have to replace portions of it with new concrete. That’s not a DIY job for most homeowners. Most problems, however, are related to cracks or unsightly surfaces.
Polymer-based cement resurfacers work well and lend themselves to a weekend do-it-yourself project. Here are six steps to completing a deck repair. For best results work on a day with low humidity, no rain, and temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees.
- Patch all cracks and holes in the old concrete. For hairline cracks up to 1/8 inch wide, mix four parts of the top dressing to one part water. Force the thick paste into the cracks with a putty knife. For larger cracks up to 1/2 inch wide, use a concrete-repair caulk. Squeeze the caulk into the cracks with a caulking gun, and smooth it with a putty knife.
- Mask each expansion joint with a strip of duct tape. These joints must remain open to allow the slab to expand and contract, so you can’t cover them with the cement top dressing.
- Mix the concrete dressing. Pour 2½ quarts of water into a clean 5-gallon bucket. Add a 20-pound bag of the dressing and mix continuously for two minutes. It’s recommended that use a 650-rpm, ½-inch drill motor and a heavy-duty mixing paddle to mix the concrete dressing to a smooth consistency.
- Pour the dressing onto the concrete. Spread it immediately with a flat steel trowel while someone else mixes the next batch. Make sure to force the dressing into every crevice.
- Give texture to the surface. Draw a medium-bristle push broom lightly across the wet dressing to create a slip-resistant surface.
- Remove the duct tape. You can walk on your repaired deck after two hours. After 24 hours, protect the new surface with a clear, waterborne masonry sealer.
Repairing your Leaking Plywood Deck
Waterproofing your deck must be done correctly to ensure maximum protection. This is a project that most do-it-yourselfers can handle. Here’s all you need to know to do it successfully:
- Prepare for deck repair. You’ll need to prep the entire deck surface. That means cleaning it to remove any coatings, dirt, grime, or other materials. Use wood filler for any cracks or holes. Let it dry.
- Get your tools together. Once you start waterproofing, you must keep going. Therefore, you should have everything you’ll be needing ahead of time. Gather a ¾” roller, a paint brush, a utility knife, and rubber gloves. Wear old shoes and clothing because they’ll probably be damaged by the materials.
- Read the directions and do a small test area. There are a variety of coatings and sealants that you can use on your deck. Familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s instructions printed on the waterproof coating before getting started. Do a test patch in an inconspicuous area to make sure that the coating adheres to the wood properly.
- Apply the coating. Pour out the coating one gallon at a time and use a push broom to spread it. A paint roller works well around the edges. Pour and spread until you’ve covered the entire deck. Then, let it cure for twenty-four hours. You can then decide if you want to apply extra coats. For extra protection against water, add a skid-resistant topcoat using the same methods as with the coating.
Some Deck Problems Require a Pro
If your deck wasn’t installed correctly from the start, you would likely need to hire a professional contractor. For example, if your deck isn’t sloped away from your house, that could be major reconstruction to add a slight angle for the runoff. Or if you find rotting joists and plywood, that may also be an issue that’s beyond DIY.
You can save some money by doing minor deck repair but call in the pros for the big jobs.