News Ticker

Reserve Studies Inc.: Deck Maintenance…Pay a Little Now, or Pay More Later

Orange County Waterproofing

Orange County WaterproofingReserve Study providers are often asked the question… How long will a deck surface last? Our standard answer is it depends!
For Reserve Study purposes, deck surfaces typically consist of two components – from a maintenance / replacement standpoint: the surfacing material and the coating applied to protect it. There are a number of factors that dictate the typical useful life of each including:

Type and Grade of Material – Generally the higher the grade, the longer it will last; a high grade coating may last 50% to 100% longer than a lower grade of similar type.
Environment – Both components will react differently depending on the environment they exist in. For instance, a standard membrane deck surface placed in direct sunlight in a desert environment will not have the same useful life expectancy as the same material placed in direct sunlight in an ocean environment.
Usage – The greater the use, the lower the life expectancy. A common area walkway surface within a small development will typically last longer than that within a larger development; simply because there is greater wear and tear from the increased number and frequency of users.

However, in most circumstances, the biggest factor in deck surfaces achieving the longest useful life is maintenance. California Civil Code states, “Repair, replace, restore, or maintain”. That “maintain” aspect is often overlooked… Especially when there is a lack of clarity with respect to who is responsibility (most CC&R’ indicate that the individual homeowner is only responsible for the “airspace” of their exclusive use balcony, however the association would be responsible for the “structural components” i.e. the deck surface.)
With respect to deck surfaces, major maintenance would essentially entail periodic recoating. It is critical with respect to achieving the full anticipated life of the deck surfacing, and lack thereof will serve to not only reduce the life of the surfacing, but may lead to decay of the deck structure itself (substantially more costly to repair/replace than resurfacing), and increase the annual cost (depreciation) of the component. For example, if deck surfacing costs $15,000.00 and has a typical useful life expectancy of 15 years, then the annual costs is $1,000.00 ($15,000.00 divided by 15 years equals $1,000.00) per year. However, if an association lacks an aggressive maintenance program in place (i.e. recoating in approximately 3-5 year intervals, depending on the deck surface warranty), which could be necessary in order to achieve the full life expectancy, might reduce the life of the deck surfacing to 10 years. The annual costs then would be $1,500.00 ($15,000.00 divided by 10 years equals $1,500.00 per year). The annual cost of recoating in this case might average around $300.00 to $500.00, resulting in saving of approximately $150.00 – $200.00 per year.

As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Budgeting for proper maintenance of the deck surface is an essential part of a Board of Directors’ fiduciary duty to protect their member’ investment. Generally, for just cents per day per component, the surfaces can be kept looking and functioning properly… And most importantly, alleviate the need for that, “pound of cure!”

Les Weinberg, RS, MBA, & Scott Clements, RS, PRA, CMI

Reserve Studies Incorporated –

For general information regarding Reserve Studies Inc. please email: