How do you keep your deck from pooling water?
December 20, 2013 12:15 PM   Subscribe

The wood on my deck is too tight, so water isn't draining. This = icy danger and a messy entryway. How have you dealt with this? I don't want to drill drainage holes if i don't have to. Thanks!
posted by smelvis to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
Can you post a pic? It's one thing if the gaps between decking boards are getting packed with snow, but if there are no gaps between the boards then the deck was built incorrectly in the first place.
posted by jon1270 at 12:22 PM on December 20, 2013

Jon1270, I can't get a photo now, but I suspect the boards were installed to close to begin with.
posted by smelvis at 12:30 PM on December 20, 2013

Depending on the size of the deck, the most efficient way to deal with it would be to remove the boards and rebuild it correctly.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:44 PM on December 20, 2013

Depending on the boards and layout you could set a skil saw for a smidge less than the thickness of the boards and then use a straight edge to rip a groove between the each set of boards. You want to be very careful not to let the saw cut the top of the joists. If your deck is treated with a coating you will have to reapply that coating/treatment to the new raw edges.
posted by Mitheral at 2:45 PM on December 20, 2013

Depending on the boards and layout you could set a skil saw for a smidge less than the thickness of the boards and then use a straight edge to rip a groove between the each set of boards.
I did this two years ago. My 300 square foot deck was built badly (by the previous owner) and after a few years there were no spaces left between the boards. Pooling water and impossible to sweep in a heavily treed yard. Tearing up the entire thing was just not an option as far as finance and labour was concerned, and I already owned a skil saw.

Be very careful going over crossbeams (I marked where they were) and take your time. I sanded to round off the top edges a bit.
posted by variella at 6:50 PM on December 20, 2013

A deck should typically have a gently downward slope away from the house. ¼" down per linear foot is recommended. It's gentle enough that it doesn't look wrong, and steep enough that it will drain.

The planks should typically be spaced between ⅛" and ¼" apart. Any bigger and high heeled shoes can get trapped. At this typical width, ice can easily clog the gaps, but the consequences of widening the gaps, in terms of creating a trip hazard, won't be worth it.

I would NOT recommend enlarging the gaps with a skil saw. Even with expert technique, you'll likely end up with some very ugly results. If the deck is even a few months old, the planks will have some curve to them and you'll end up unable to follow them easily. I'm damn good with a skilsaw. I wouldn't even try this with my festool tracksaw, which is the most precise circular saw money can buy.

Is the deck enclosed on the sides? or does it have easily accessible posts? If the side of the deck furthest from the house rests on posts, and those posts are accessible without too much trouble, I would recommend the following procedure:

1. Check your deck for level in the direction perpendicular to the house.
2. Figure out how much shorter the outside of the deck needs to be in order to slope ¼" per foot.
3. Shore up the deck by wedging temporary 2x4 supports under the exterior rim joist (outermost framing member beneath the deck). Tack the supports in with heavy screws. If the ground is muddy, create a flat foot for the support and tack that in with a heavy screw too.
4. detach the posts one by one, cut each one down by the amount necessary to create the right slope, then replace it.
5. Remove temporary supports.

That's quite involved, I realize. An alternative would be to rout out a spot in the deck, right by your front door, and install some kind of draining grate. But that still leaves a slippery deck.

Also, you could use a slip piece of metal or strong plastic to periodically clean between the gaps in the deck.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 7:00 PM on December 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Also, what wood is the deck made of? And what climate are you in?
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 7:01 PM on December 20, 2013

Is the deck new, and is it constructed of pressure-treated lumber or a plastic composite, such a Trex?

When building a new deck out of lumber, it is common practice to butt the decking boards tightly against each other. The reasoning is that, over the course of the first couple of seasons, the boards will be subject to considerable shrinkage, and the resulting gaps between the boards will be just right for the long hall.

If, on the other hand, the decking material is a composite, the boards should have been installed with the proper spacing from the start, and your best bet is to take them up and re-install with the proper spacing (which would be about the width of one of the screws with which they are attached to the beams).
posted by dinger at 5:53 AM on December 21, 2013

Pictures would be really helpful. Is the decking laid parallel or orthogonal to the house and are the gaps accumulating leaf litter? MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch has [in my opinion as someone who has made a living as a builder] the best advice so far but the proper solution depends on more information.
posted by vapidave at 1:20 PM on December 21, 2013

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