Even as summer comes to an end, there is still plenty of time to get outside and enjoy your porch or deck. Whether you’re relaxing with a cup of tea and a book or hosting a football barbecue, you want your outdoor space to look its best and stay strong this season. Unfortunately, wood rot can get in the way on both of these counts, ruining your porch’s beauty and weakening your deck’s structural integrity.
Wood rot may be common, but it is preventable. However, will covering your wooden porch or deck do the trick? And if not, what other steps can you take to prevent wood rot?
What Causes Rotting Wood?
Before we can answer these questions, we must address what causes wood rot in the first place. The short answer: moisture and fungi. Wood is a porous material, making it a prime home for water molecules. Water can damage your wooden features in its own right, expanding and contracting as the temperature fluctuates. But moisture becomes more of a problem when fungi join the party.
Fungi thrive in warm, damp conditions, so when your deck or porch gets soaked, it can become a breeding ground for these harmful actors. These fungi then slowly digest the wood, leading to decay and rot. The best way to prevent wood rot is to prevent moisture from gaining access to your deck or porch, thereby eliminating the conditions necessary for fungi to grow and spread.
Pros and Cons of Covering Up
Naturally, you might think that covering your deck with a tarp when not in use would be the perfect solution for preventing wood rot. When the sky opens up, a tarp provides excellent cover from all of that moisture. However, you must keep in mind that moisture doesn’t just come from above in the form of rain and snow. Moisture also rises from the soil. As water evaporates underneath your deck or porch, an overlaying tarp would actually trap the vapor, keeping the moisture inside the system where it can soak into the wood.
That said, covering your deck does yield some benefits. For one thing, it makes cleaning a lot easier. Leaves and other fallen debris can be easily removed with the tarp, and you won’t have to wash away nearly as much dirt or dust as you would if you left your deck or porch exposed. Just remember, though: if you’re trying to prevent rotting wood, covering your deck or porch with a tarp may actually make things worse. It may instead be time to hire some house painters.
Staining and Sealing Instead
Fortunately, there is a happy medium here – a way to cover your wooden deck or porch without a moisture-trapping tarp. Staining and sealing your deck or porch allows you to protect it from rot and other forms of damage for several years before a new coat is required. Wood seal (or stain if it contains pigment) soaks into the wood, preventing moisture and other microscopic materials from entering its pores. Plus, the finish looks great.
You may also consider exterior painting as an alternative to staining or sealing. Paint will protect your deck, too, but only on the surface, as it does not soak into the wood. Once the paint begins to peel or chip away, the underlying wood will be immediately exposed to the elements. Keep this fact in mind when hiring exterior painters for your deck or porch. Stain might be the better option, and your painters can likely apply this option, too.
To sum up, then, covering your porch or deck can indeed help prevent rotting wood, depending on which covering method you use. A tarp or sheet may protect your porch from certain things, but it may exacerbate your moisture problem. Stain and seal, on the other hand, will keep your deck well-protected from all kinds of harm, including wood rot.
Just be sure to hire the right exterior painting contractor for the job. All American Painting Plus is much more than just a painting service. Our team can help you identify wood rot, repair or replace your rotted wood, and apply stain, sealant, and/or paint depending on your preferences. To learn more about all that we can do for our clients in Northern Virginia, give us a call at (703)-620-5563!