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Robert Lamoureux: Once rubber peels, replace deck

Your Home Improvements

Posted: September 10, 2010 10:48 p.m.
Updated: September 10, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

 Hello Robert,
The rubber coating on my deck has started to peel. It actually began a few years ago as a bubble that cracked and now I can see the wood underneath. I heard I need to peel off all of the old rubber first, then repaint — but what is the best way to get it off? Thank you,
Annette K.

Hi Annette,

You don’t need to peel the elastomeric off. Instead, you need a complete tear-off for  all of the plywood sheeting, which is a major job. Then, I would replace it with new plywood and install a new fiberglass decking system with diamond mesh and concrete. It’s much more forgiving and durable. 

Once you have the plywood removed, check the condition of the joists. If you see any framing that is water or termite damaged, replace it. 

If your deck transitions against stucco, you need to break out one foot of stucco and use wall-to-floor flashing. This will allow any water to wick out to the decking system. Then re-stucco. Don’t take the fiberglass decking and roll it up on top of the stucco like I’ve seen a million times. This is not waterproofing. This just allows water to come in through the stucco above. The water hits the paper and then goes behind the deck. Make sure everything is counter-flashed. 

Remember every 3-4 years you have to top-coat the deck. Whether you have fiberglass or elastomeric. Top-coating is part of a standard maintenance program. If you neglect to do this, you will most likely have to replace the decking — again. 

Hi Robert,
I have some fairly large lumber on the west side of my home. The wood has become seriously weathered over the past 36 years. I recently painted it with a latex. Some of the cracks were filled with paint but many were not. What can I do to preserve the wood for a few more years? One is the end of a 6x10 beam and the others are 3x8 gable ends. Looking forward to your solution. Thanks for your help,
Bud R.

Hi Bud,
You’ve done exactly what I would recommend you do. Just cut off the rot on the gable ends to minimize any additional interior rot. Cut it off if it is not supporting anything and keep it primered and painted. That’s all you can do. 

If the integrity of the lumber is 25-percent-or-more compromised, then it is nonsalvageable.

The building department will only let you take up to 25 percent off of a beam before it has to be replaced.  

Robert Lamoureux,
I really like your column and this is the first time I have written in with a question. If you still have T-shirts, please send an XL to me. I’d like to know some good preventative measures I can do around my house to prepare for the rains. Thank you,
Dennis B.

Hi Dennis,
Thank you and we have plenty of T-shirts. Please call the office and we’ll give you directions to come and pick it up. 

Regarding winterizing your home, it’s a good idea to clear all underground drains now, while it’s dry. If you can, get a cable machine and clean the drains out. If there are elbows in the line, use a jetter instead. Get everything clean and clear for the rains. People typically hose down every weekend and wash dirt and grime down into the drains. Week after week, that gunk starts to build up. 

Sometimes you’ll also find rodents in there or roots. Bottom line is you have to keep those lines cleared. If not, the lines can back up into your home, especially if you don’t have enough natural grade to your property. 

Many times, developers will grade to a given point but homeowners come along and do inappropriate landscaping and block the natural flow of the water. Or, a gardener will build up the beds — they keep bringing in new plants, but they don’t take the old dirt out. Before you know it, the drains are all covered and the lines are packed with mud. 

Also important is to keep your gutters and downspouts cleared out. Especially in the elbow joints because that’s where the obstructions occur. 

Keep your gutters and downspouts painted so they don’t rot.

If you see any damage to the guttering, replace it. If the water is not being channeled away from the building properly, water will keep hitting the stucco, which will cause the paper to go into failure mode. Once that happens, you’ve got interior leaks and wet drywall.   

Check all the seals around your doors and windows. This will help against wind driven rains and save money on your heating bills. 

If you have any holes in your walls from previous drilling or mounting, keep them caulked and sealed. You want to protect the paper as much as you can. If you have previously caulked the holes, pull it out and inject new caulk. Hot sun like we’ve had this summer will damage it — so keep it replaced. 

Hi Robert,
I’ve got a little problem with my stairway steps. Two of them squeak when stepped on. I’ve lived with it for almost 10 years and now it’s like water torture. It’s making me crazy. I nailed through the carpet thinking the boards were just loose, but this did not help. What needs to be done? Sincerely,
Jeff I.

Hi Jeff,
You’re on the right track. It sounds like the treads were originally nailed into the stringers, and over time, the nails worked themselves loose, which is creating the squeak. 

For the repair, I would first pull the carpet back over the squeaky steps. If you have form-fitting carpeting, each piece will probably cover two treads.

Instead of nails, use deck screws. Once you get the carpeting pulled, you can see the nailing pattern, so line up the deck screws so you screw straight into the stringer underneath.

We have designed a custom, full-color The Signal/Your Home Improvements T-shirt we will give you if we answer your question. The T-shirt is available to be picked up at our office.

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contacting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Send your questions to Robert@IMSConstruction.com.

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