With many sunny days in the forecast for this week, I’ve been tackling refinishing our deck. Our deck is almost 11 years old, and it’s made of pressure-treated pine. As anyone who has a wood deck knows, they are unfortunately not maintenance-free. This will be the fourth time I’ve refinished this deck.
My day was filled with swapping sander belts, slapping sunscreen and sipping Cokes in the sunshine! Despite its age, the wood was sanding down nicely in prep for staining.
One corner of our deck has a shepherd’s hook clamped on the rail. I’ve had this hook in the same place since the deck was built, and it’s only been removed during deck refinishings. It usually has a hanging basket planter on it brightening up our deck space with flowers.
Honestly, I’ve never given much thought to this hook until today. As I was sanding the deck rail, I got closer to the corner where the hook was clamped. I unscrewed the clamp, moved the hook, and continued sanding. Then I noticed that the wood under the hook was soft.
That’s not good, I thought.
I grabbed a screwdriver and pressed it into the wood, and it easily sunk about half an inch.
That’s really not good.
I started chipping the rotted wood away, and I found that I’d excavated a hole about the size of a fifty-cent piece in our deck rail.
I pondered whether or not it was worth attempting to dry out the wood, then fill this hole with an epoxy product — or just rip the board off and replace it. I stuck the screwdriver into the hole again and found that I was able to slide almost the entire length of it sideways into the hole.
How bad is this?
I continued “excavating.” A piece of wood popped out of the top of the deck rail a few inches from the hole where the shepherd’s hook had previously been clamped. I stuck the screwdriver in that spot and began removing more rotten wood from the rail.
When I could scrape no more rotten wood out of the deck rail, I was left with this:
Oh my. Isn’t it incredible what water and time can do? I never once considered that the shepherd’s hook could do so much damage to our deck simply by being clamped to the rail. Years of water being trapped under the clamp caused the wood to rot not only under the clamp itself, but all the way down the rail from that point. This is the only piece of wood with rot on the entire deck.
Tomorrow, I’m buying a new deck rail… and I won’t be re-hanging our shepherd’s hook.