Deck Making Popping Sounds in Cold Weather?
Having a fantastic outdoor space can completely transform a home. Many people can only tolerate so much time indoors, so they look for ways to spend time outside to break the routine of indoor living.
An outdoor deck is a perfect option in this situation. You can put out some furniture to relax, add a fire pit, and fire up a grill.
But as time goes on and the weather changes, you may find that your deck makes strange popping sounds in cold weather. Read our guide below to learn why popping sounds occur on your decking.
Why Does My Deck Make Popping Sounds In Cold Weather?
Of all the problems you’ll face with your deck, popping sounds are one of the most noticeable. Deterioration isn’t always visible, so you rely on other cues to spot problems.
So why does decking pop in cold weather?
Popping in cold weather occurs because your deck materials expand and contract. Cold weather causes deck materials to contract, which opens the door to problems when the rest of your deck doesn’t do the same thing.
When parts of your deck move but others remain static, it creates friction and pressure between the materials. This is what causes cracking and popping noises during cold weather. The more significant the difference in the temperature shifts, the greater impact you’ll see with your deck.
The amount of cracking and popping you hear depends on your deck’s material. For instance, composite decking and vinyl decks are more likely to suffer from this problem. Wood decks will still make noise, but they won’t be as noticeable as they would be with other building materials.
Potential Reasons Your Deck Makes Cracking Noises
You’ll need to narrow down the root cause of the cracking noise if you want to take action to correct the problem.
There isn’t one reason that leads to wood decks cracking during cold temperatures – so here are the most common issues that cause deck noise.
Deck boards aren’t the only materials that expand and contract when it gets cold during winter. Nails are subject to the same thing. But unlike your deck boards, nails shift position in different ways.
The issue you’ll see with nails is that they can pop out of boards. You’ll hear creaking most of the time when a nail is still attached to the deck. When the nail finally comes out, you’ll hear the popping sound.
Luckily, this isn’t usually a big deal. Hammer the nail back into the deck where it goes to fix the problem.
Boards and Joists
While your deck boards are one of the most common areas that cause popping noises in the winter on your deck, the joists are another thing to look at if you’re trying to find the noise’s source. The frame under your deck and the joists holding it off the ground can also expand and contract to create popping noises.
As joists expand and contract, they push upwards on your deck boards. As the deck boards respond to the movement, they will creak and eventually pop as the joists create enough pressure.
Ice can also get trapped between the joists and the deck when it gets cold enough. When joists expand on temperature changes, they can crack the ice between the deck and create popping sounds.
In some cases, the pressure caused by joists will be enough to pop boards loose on your deck.
Moisture is another cause of loud popping noises on deck boards. When it rains a lot, moisture can seep into your deck and become trapped between the deck boards. As the temperature changes, that moisture will expand and pressure the boards.
Another issue is when the temperature drops below freezing while moisture stays trapped between the boards. Water turns into ice in this situation, which means you now have a solid trapped between deck boards.
Ice expanding and contracting will create even more pressure and can lead to deck damage, so you’ll need to examine your deck when it warms again to check for damage.
Not Enough Space
One common mistake homeowners make when building a deck is the amount of space they have between boards. People believe having boards as close as possible is the way to go. Unfortunately, that can cause problems over time.
You want to give your deck boards breathing room. Whether building a new deck or repairing an existing one, give your boards that space.
It doesn’t need to be much. It just needs to be enough to give your deck enough space to expand and contract when the temperature changes.
Do Cracking Noises Mean My Deck Is Damaged?
Hearing your deck make cracking noises can cause a lot of anxiety, especially if you spend a lot of time there. You might worry that your deck is deteriorating and won’t be usable in the future.
The good news is that, in most cases, loud cracking and popping noises don’t mean your deck has damage. Decks can handle extreme temperatures in most cases, so you won’t need to worry about the damage until your deck ages and becomes frailer.
The biggest thing you’ll need to worry about is loose nails and boards. Just put the nails and boards back into place if you’re in this situation. We have many online homeowner resources that will help you learn how to do this.
As your deck ages, you can start looking for more significant damage. You can do this several times a year after the large temperature swings between winter and summer.
Although you won’t experience issues most of the time when your deck makes loud noises when cold, that doesn’t mean you’ll never experience problems. You can fix some of those issues, like loose nails and boards. However, some repairs will require help from a decking expert.
At Decks & Docks Lumber Company, professionals like ours can also help protect your deck in the winter months. We can remove mold and mildew, apply a water-repellent seal, add tarping, and other protective measures.
If you’re in a situation where you need help, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Decks & Docks Lumber Company is the leader in deck and dock solutions that will help you resolve any situation with your deck. Contact us to get started today!
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James Hertler has served professional builders and homeowners on the Jersey Shore since 2006. With decades of industry experience, his team provides deep product knowledge and specialized service. Professional deck builders and marine contractors will find that they understand the business and work hard to make every job run smoothly. Homeowners working independently or with a contractor will find him a great resource from planning to delivery. All of their customers will find that James goes the extra mile to help turn a construction project into a beautiful outdoor living space.