In San Diego, decks last over 30 years when built properly. San Diego has a coastal climate that certainly does not help the decks lifespan. Coastal micro climates create havoc on the thousands of decks that adorn the the southern coastal city. Fog condensates onto tree limbs and leaves and drips constantly in the wee morning hours. Although it is not raining the damage done is the same. It is natures way to provide water to the many thirsty plants and trees that grow locally. If you build your deck and then paint or stain the deck after construction, the damage has already been done!
Six months after a deck has been constructed and then painted, the deck begins to shrink and contract from its loss of moisture. Shrinkage allows the decks wood that did not get painted to become exposed. Exposed wood that has not been painted allows water to soak into the wood and termites a passage into the decks wood interior. Had the deck builder painted all the wood prior to building th deck, the deck would stand a much better chance deck builder of lasting 30 years or more. Once more, if termites are a real concern like in a wooded area like Rancho Santa Fe, the deck builder can add a termite poison directly into the deck woods first coat of primer.
Wood decks go bad after about 23 to 27 years on average, but well preserved decks last for 50 years if built expertly. What if the termites come in from under the deck like most subterrannian termites do? You would hope that the deck part on the underside was painted so they do not have access to virgin wood. Sure, you can’t see the wood so who cares? it is the most important part of the deck to be painted- The part that you do not see! That is where the water ends up and where termites attack.
Sometimes the decking wood is perfect, but the deck fails because the substructure goes bad and rots. Space between the dirt and the decking joists is vital for the deck so it can breath and keep termites at bay. Today most deck builders use screws as deck fasteners. In the past, nails were used. people often think that nails are bad because they work themselves up out of the wood to leave a raised nail head. In fact, the reason the nail heads protrude an 1/8 inch above the wood over time is shrinkage of the wood. Over time the wood and shrinks, while the nail head stays where it has always been. When a new board is laid down it is moisture laden.
Over one years time the shrinkage is noticeable.
Next time you think it is time to replace that wooden deck, follow the guidelines listed above and marvel at how long it lasts. Delphi Construction – 20 years of deck building in San Diego.