Weather damages decks, and that means on days with sunny skies or snow! Especially for wood decks that are built with standard materials, weather is one of the most significant sources of damage.
As soon as you’ve finished having your deck installed is the when damage from the elements begins. No matter if the material is pressure treated, made of older cedar or redwood and naturally insect-repelling, no deck is proofed against the decaying forces of nature.
UV exposure is the first culprit for the natural decay of a wood deck. Because the wood on decks is mostly laying horizontally, it also means that the deck is also usually receiving the most direct sunlight and UV exposure. Just like people, decks that spend too much time in direct sunlight will break down, especially considering the internal stresses from having the top surface at a broiling temperature while the bottom surface enjoys a balmy afternoon in the shade. You can tell a deck has been damaged by UV exposure when you start to see “greying.” This process can start as quickly as month after installation and will continue to worsen over time, getting darker and generally more unsightly as it ages.
It’s important to treat your deck with protectants that help mitigate the damage from UV exposure and other sources as well, like moisture.
Moisture exposure is extremely damaging to untreated wood. Your untreated deck may experience cracking, splitting, cupping or warping just from exposure to the elements without some kind of protection. There are any number of insects and fungi that love untreated wood and find it to be a suitable place to grow and reproduce, and moisture helps these lifeforms survive and flourish.
Just because a deck says that it’s weatherproof doesn’t mean that it can deal with all types of weather forever. Weatherproofing is only useful for a limited span of time before it has to be done again. It’s also why you want to use a higher-end brand of protectant, otherwise you’re likely to have to be retaining your wood deck in only a year. The brand you choose should offer protection from insects, light, moisture and fungi all in one package, or in two separate products designed to work together (like a finishing agent and then a protectant).
Don’t let the weather destroy your investment! Through vigilant application of protectants and sealants, your deck will last for many years – but don’t fall behind on the treatments, it doesn’t take long for it to end up severely damaged.