Ask the Decks Expert – Desiree Hubbs
Maintenance Free Decks
It’s no secret that North Americans love our outdoor living space and with the availability of outdoor fireplaces and heaters, deck renovation projects more frequently consider the ability to enjoy a deck throughout the whole year. The trick is to enjoy your deck more, but labour on it less.
Traditional Wood Decks
While wood decks are very traditional, many home owners or property managers are surprised and unprepared for the amount of work required to maintain them. Besides becoming unsightly when not regularly maintained, it is the safety concerns of a neglected wood deck that is far more serious than the aesthetic implications. Wood decks finishes are required in order to penetrate the wood to slow down its ability to absorb moisture, prolonging the life of the deck and maintaining appearance.
Moisture wreaks havoc on unprotected wood, even pressure-treated wood. Moisture from rain, snow or humidity causes problems like raised grain, cupping and splitting. If moisture has penetrated the wood to the point where it has developed wood rot, the affected portion should be replaced immediately before the rot spreads to the entire structure. UV radiation breaks down the lignin that holds wood’s cellulose fibers together in a process called photochemical degradation.
This is what causes wood’s natural color to gray, and while this does not affect the strength of the wood, it is sometimes an undesirable appearance. The longer unprotected wood sits in the sun, the more UV radiation damage is done to the lignin, and it no longer bonds the wood fibers. As the fibers loosen and detach, any color pigments like stains will also fall away. Additionally, once the wood is sealed, it requires resealing every 1 – 3 years to stay protected. And even worse, if a coating fails, the process to replace it is a very unpleasant, labor intensive process.
Duradek Vinyl Membrane Decks
Decks finished with Duradek vinyl membranes make it easy to enjoy your outdoor living space all year round with virtually no maintenance. Installation is simple on a substrate of untreated plywood, covered with Duradek in one single application completed in one day (in most cases, and you before you know it your deck is ready for use immediately and is guaranteed waterproofed for a decade! No reapplication required! Additionally, if your deck is elevated, the use of Duradek membranes provides roof-grade waterproof protection for dry, usable space below.