If you have a natural wood deck, your lumber can start to slightly twist and turn (called “warping”) over time as it weathers and ages, causing your boards to rub against one another and your deck to pop, creak, or squeak when you walk across it.Additionally, maintenance processes involving liquid substances, like cleaners and sealers, can cause your wooden deck to soak up moisture, leading to extra noisiness as it expands and contracts into different positions.
And corrosive substances like ice melt, used in our frosty Colorado winters, can further the wear and tear on your deck’s wood and hardware, leading to–you guessed it–more groans, squeaks, and creaks.
Don’t let those sinister sounds irritate you. Those agitating noises rarely are cause for concern and typically have a relatively easy fix for them.
Repairing a squeaky, creaky deck is a task you can readily take care of without spending a lot of money or hiring a professional. Take a look at the different options you have below to quiet those creaks.
Repeat these fixes as necessary throughout the life of your custom deck to extend its longevity and your continued enjoyment.
Tighten Above Deck
If your boards are screwed in or nailed down, add an extra screw or nail at the location of the squeak to hold the board securely to the joist below and prevent it from rubbing up against other boards and squeaking. If your deck has covered or caulked nail or screw holes, cover your additional fasteners up to match the rest. Use a smooth-headed hammer when driving in nails to prevent hammer indentations in your wood.
Tighten Below Deck
If you have easy access to the underside of your deck, you might consider screwing the joist underneath into the deck board above. Use a screw long enough to go at least one-half inch up into the plank. Be careful that the screw isn’t so long that it sticks up through the top side of your decking board, though. Ouch!
Use Joist Brackets
Joist brackets are specialized hardware that attach simultaneously to the side of the joists and the underside of the deck board. Once again, this is an option for those with easy access to the underside of their deck. Choose a bracket size based on the width and thickness of your joist board.
A great thing about this option is that, over time, you can tighten up the boards little by little as your deck ages. A possible downside is that the typical homeowner may not have access to the tools necessary to easily drive the necessary nails or screws into every hole in the bracket, and it could be a lot of work to do so by hand.
As with using any type of screw from below deck, be sure that the screw has the shear strength needed for decking and is long enough to get a good grip into the wood above it but not long enough to stick up into the walking surface of your deck.
Use pieces of wood (called shims) and glue to put an end to creaky boards. The shim will fill in the gap where wood is creaky (like between the deck and joist or between planks), while the glue gives the shim more grip and padding.
Shims vary in size, so you can customize them to your needs and use them anywhere along the length of a board should one board need adjustment in several places. Driving a finishing nail into the shim will give it more staying power.
Bond the Cracks
Creaks resulting from cracked wood can be mended by bonding the two sides of the crack back together. Use an epoxy-based wood binder as regular wood glue isn’t strong enough. Then, shim both sides of the plank to push the gap closer together as the epoxy dries.
Regular Maintenance Is Key
Deck maintenance isn’t a one-time event. You’ll need to clean and inspect for necessary repairs every year or two to preserve and protect yours for years to come. Some repairs are better off left in the hands of a professional, but fixing noisy boards is one of those things most homeowners can easily handle themselves.
Whether you tighten deck boards from above or below, use joist brackets, shims, or epoxy, you can quickly and conveniently fix those bothersome squeaks and creaks coming from your wooden deck as it naturally weathers, ages, and sustains cleanings, stainings, and ice melt applications.
Our Colorado custom deck installers at SRI are passionate about giving you the deck of your dreams and helping you keep it fun and functional for a long time to come. Check out our past blogs for more answers to your questions on custom deck installation and maintenance. Check back with us monthly to see our newest articles to help you make the most of your outdoor space.