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Rotting wood problem?

Question:

I just bought my home and I`ve discovered the previous owner placed a plastic sheet (black) might even be a anti weed sheet under our deck planks seemingly to keep the area under there, dry. There is approximately four feet from the top of the deck to ground level. The plastic sheet seems to be holding water between the boards and rotting the wood, any suggestions?  Will the wood stop rotting if we cut between the boards to allow drainage? Or, do we have to take up all the boards, remove the plastic, and then replace the boards? Any advice would be appreciated. And, an idea of how rotted the wood is ...at one place there is a complete cave-in in the surface of the wood and we have small plants growing out of the wood maybe a centimeter high..

Answer:

Hello Howard,
The previous owner left you with a big problem. That plastic should definitely be removed. Cutting or slitting it will still allow water to penetrate the boards. Dependent on the size of your deck, the boards should be removed to get rid of the plastic and, who knows how much damage has been done. Taking out the plastic may give you some indication how badly the boards have been damaged as a result. It may be a God send, for you could be in for a big lawsuit in event someone is hurt or even crippled because of the plastic. In event you consider replacing the flooring, I would choose redwood and seal it with Thompsons Clear sealer to assure yourself of a longer lasting floor. I live in the mountains and had to also replace my deck flooring with redwood that has been sealed with Thompsons and as of this year, its 7 years old and still looks new. I expect it to last at least 20 more years plus.

Many thanks for asking,

Carl



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