Boardwalk maintenance is one of those perpetual maintenance items. The boardwalks in our little slice of paradise usually have to span a distance of dunes to get from the buildings to the beach. These boardwalks will span a distance of anywhere between 50 and 400 feet. It is typically the responsibility of the condominium, townhome or patio home association to keep the boardwalk in good working order.
Builders and developers often build their amenities with cost as the significant factor instead of longevity or quality. The same holds true with boardwalks. As a result, most boardwalks are constructed of pressure treated lumber with galvanized fasteners. This construction method for oceanfront condominiums will usually get around 5 years of useful life before needing significant upkeep. The first upgrade for boardwalks is usually moving to stainless steel fasteners, preferably screws. The first indication that there is a problem will be deck board buckling and pulling up. This is a result of the galvanized nails rusting away and as the wood warps the deck boards pull up. Most of the time, these deck boards can be reattached with stainless steel screws with no other repairs needed.
Wash areas along the boardwalk will needed closer attention and repair. For a number of condominiums in our area, as you return to the building, a faucet is placed at the head of the boardwalk to wash the sand off of you, your chairs and your toys. This area, by way of being constantly saturated with water, deteriorates much quicker than others. The boards become warped, splintered and slimey with mildew and the support structure underneath splits with no other way of fastening the deck boards. When this occurs, the ideal replacement could be composite decking.
When considering composite decking, make sure you take in to account the replacement of the supporting structures (stringers) underneath. In areas that see a significant amount of water all the time, there’s a high probability the stringers underneath should be replaced as well. Not doing so could lead to additional work shortly after replacing the deck surface. While we’re on the subject of support structures, follow the manufacturers suggestion for stringer spans underneath the decking. Most composite deck manufacturers recommend a stringer span of no more than 16″ OC (on center). Anything more than 16″-20″ will result in your deck boards having a spring effect when walked on.
Routine inspection of your boardwalk will highlight any trouble areas early on. Being vigilant with the upkeep and maintenance of your boardwalk will provide your association with many years of service.