What To Do If Your Deck Posts Are Splitting? (What You Need To Know)

Stepping outside and seeing a split in your deck posts can be worrying. But, don’t panic just yet! It’s normal for wooden posts to develop cracks or splits, and it’s a process known as ‘checking’. Still, what do you do when that happens?

Answer To The Question What To Do If Your Deck Posts Are Splitting:

Splitting deck posts result from a natural process known as ‘checking’. It happens to posts because the wood expands and repeatedly contracts every day. As a result, splits will develop in deck posts after at least a year. You can fix the issue by filling the splits with epoxy or caulk and wrapping a steel band around the post to hold it together.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about splits in deck posts. You’ll discover what they are and why they happen. More importantly, this guide will show you how to fix them using everyday products you can find at your local hardware store.

Let’s get started.

Is It Normal For Deck Posts To Split?

Yes, it’s normal for deck posts to split or develop cracks. That’s especially true if you’ve had those decks in place for an extended period, like for several years or more.

Some cracks are deeper than others. Still, they’re so common that this issue is known as ‘checking’. 

Checking is cosmetic and not structural. That means it might look unpleasant, but your deck posts will hold up as they should.

So, why does this happen?

Checking happens because the posts expand and contract according to the temperature outside.

For example, the posts will expand slightly when it’s warm outside. But when the sun goes down and gets cold at night, the same posts will also contract.

That expansion and contraction will happen again and again as the days go by. But, of course, the extreme temperatures that come with summer and winter make those processes more intense.

Once those deck posts form small cracks, water can find its way into those cracks. Any moisture inside the post will expand and contract, speeding up the checking process.

Overall, the processes mentioned above will repeat themselves over an extended period until those splits become large enough for you to notice them.

When Should You Be Concerned About Deck Post Splits?

As you’ve seen above, splits in your deck posts are nothing to worry about. In most cases, it’s only a cosmetic issue that affects how the post looks. Despite that, the posts still have structural integrity and will continue supporting whatever structure is above them.

However, if you’re concerned about the splits in your deck posts, there are two things you can look out for, namely:

  • The depth of the split
  • The presence of horizontal cracks

Let’s take a closer look at those two tell-tale signs:

Depth of the Split

Firstly, even a large and unsightly vertical split on your deck post isn’t necessarily something to worry about. You should only be concerned if the split is deep enough that it reaches to the opposite side of the post.

You can check that by using a tool like a knife or a screwdriver. Then, when you push that tool through the split, it should not come out the other side.

However, if the tool goes through your deck post and reaches out to the other side, the split might have undermined its structural integrity. 

You’ll want to get a professional to look at it to confirm whether or not a repair or replacement is necessary.

Presence of Horizontal Cracks

It’s normal for a deck post to split vertically. However, as mentioned before, that’s most likely a cosmetic issue that doesn’t affect its structural integrity.

However, horizontal cracks are indeed something you should be concerned about.

Check your deck posts closely and look for horizontal cracks, especially those that cross or connect with the vertical split you noticed first.

If you see both a vertical split and a horizontal crack, that might mean that your deck post requires professional attention.

Again, this kind of damage could require a repair or a total replacement in more severe cases.

How Long Does It Take For Deck Posts To Split?

Deck posts start to split after it expands and contracts a very large number of times. So, it takes at least a year or two for that to happen.

The split or ‘checking’ might happen sooner if you live in a place with continual changes in temperature.

Remember: the splits form because the deck posts expand and contract because of surrounding temperature changes.

How Do You Repair A Split Deck Post?

The good news here is that you can fix a split deck post, even without professional help or expensive supplies. There are two approaches that you can use, either by themselves or together:

  1. Filling the split in your deck post
  2. Attach a steel post band around the deck post

Here’s how these approaches work:

1. Filling Your Split Deck Post

The split in your deck post looks unpleasant and concerning. Plus, it can also allow water to enter the core of the post. So, the first way to fix the post is by filling the crack.

Typically, you can fill the crack with materials like caulk and epoxy. These are affordable materials that you can find at your local hardware store.

However, it’s crucial to remember that your deck posts are exposed to the environment outside. So, it’s best to invest in caulk or epoxy that’s UV-resistant and can cope well with slight movements in your deck posts.

Once you’ve filled the gap, you can then sand and paint it to blend in with the rest of your deck post.

2. Attaching A Steel Post Band Around The Deck Post

Alternatively, you can invest in steel post bands that wrap around the deck post. Manufacturers produce these bands in various sizes, so finding one that fits your post is not a problem.

Simply put, these bands wrap around the post snuggly to prevent it from splitting at all. So when you attach it to a post that’s already split, it will help prevent the split from becoming worse.

How Do I Stop My Wood Post From Splitting?

Firstly, remember that deck post splitting is a natural occurrence for all wooden posts, whether they’re for your deck or anywhere else.

You can slow down or delay splitting by wrapping a steel post band around it to reinforce the post as best as you can.

Again, remember that this will only delay or slow down the splitting process. Splitting or ‘checking’ is natural and will eventually occur to a wooden post.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, it’s normal for your deck posts to develop splits after a while. That process is called ‘checking’, and it’s mostly a cosmetic issue that won’t undermine the post’s structural integrity. You can fix this issue quickly by filling the split or wrapping a steel band around the post.

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What To Do If Your Deck Posts Are Splitting? (What You Need To Know)
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