How to spot rot on each part of your decking

Decking Rot

With rain and snow having battered much of the UK recently, Storm Christoph has certainly been making his presence known. And unfortunately, this sort of extreme weather can sometimes take its toll on timber decking (although composite decking remains happily resistant). One of the most serious ways that the consistent damp conditions can affect decking is through the formation of rot.

Now, we’ve previously talked about exactly how bad rot can be for your decking. Not only does it make it look horrible, but most importantly it can even make it physically unsafe. So, here’s how you can make sure you can easily spot and diagnose rot on your decking boards, helping to keep your decking in tip-top shape until the sun comes back around.

For individual boards, use the screwdriver test

This is one of the simplest, easiest and most effective ways to diagnose how far the rot has spread in your decking. When you’re checking each board, make sure to check the underside too. Some cases of rot will be easily noticeable, as it typically appears in the form of black fungus on the surface of the timber itself. You’ll then find that the timber itself feels soft and spongy to the touch, and little pieces of the wood may even start breaking away in your fingers.

So, how do you find out how far the problem has spread? Easy. Get a screwdriver and press the point of it into the wood very gently, and slowly but surely increase the pressure. Normal decking boards should be able to very easily resist this sort of pressure, but not if they’ve been badly affected by rot.

Basically, the further that your screwdriver can go into the wood with very little effort, the more the rot has progressed. That should immediately give you a very good indication of how structurally sound the decking board is, and how soon it needs to be replaced. (Although to be honest, if you discover any instances of rot at all on your decking boards, we’d recommend replacing them anyway – just to be safe!)

If the rot issue is just confined to the one decking board, that might be all you need to replace. However, if it’s spread further than that, you might find that entire sections of your decking need to be removed and replaced if it’s going to stay safe to use.

And don’t forget to also check…

Your decking posts

The posts of your decking should be at the top of your list to check. Make sure to pay particular attention to the base of each one, where it sits on the ground. This is where the most water can collect, and if these puddles of standing water are left undisturbed for long enough, they can eventually seep into the wood, causing rot. If any of your posts show signs of rotting – however minor – they need to be replaced immediately, since they’re one of the components that can present the biggest risk of injury.

Timber Decking Kit

Your railings

The railings are another hugely important component to check. If they feel weak or loose at all, this is incredibly dangerous, as people will often be leaning against them, using part or all of their bodyweight. If it’s just the railing that’s loose, then you may find that you’re able to isolate the issue easily enough and just replace the railing itself. However, again it’s worth us emphasising that you’ll need to ensure it’s not spreading around the bottom of your deck, too!

Nails and screws

Since nails and screws are driven into the wood, water can start to collect around their heads. If left long enough, this water can start to seep into the decking itself. It’s not normally too much of a problem if the water has only been there a day or two, but if you start noticing blackened patches around the heads of your screws or nails, you might want to consider conducting the screwdriver test on the boards in question. And obviously, be extremely careful where you stand when you do so – just in case the rot issue is already worse than you thought!

If you ever need any replacement decking boards, or you’re thinking about a new deck entirely, then you’re already in exactly the right place. Here at Savoy Timber we have a huge range of timber decking products available, making us your one-stop shop for decking. And don’t forget, composite decking boards are much more resistant to the effects of such extreme weather, so if you’re doing some maintenance on your deck it might be time for an upgrade!

If you fancy browsing our products for yourself, feel free to pay a visit to our DIY stores in Blackpool, Preston or Wigan. We’re dedicated to helping you to shop safely during the ongoing Covid-19 situation, so don’t forget to check our latest Covid-19 service update before you visit!