The Q&A Archives: Dampness Under Deck And Ants

Question: We have a small deck, and we would like to know if we can fill the spaces between the wood with caulking or something. This is to stop the rain or snow from getting under the deck, to stop the dampness and carpenter ants that are there. There is dirt under the deck, with lattace around it to let in air. It's not working--please help us.
Thank you.

Answer: Usually it is best to let the water drain through so that the wood deck is able to dry out quickly after it rains. (Keeping the wood wet is not good for the wood.) To keep rain off the area, you could however build a roof over the deck. It would probably be both easier and less expensive to check into the surface water drainage in that area. If excess soil moisture is a problem, you will need to make sure the surface drainage pattern sends rain water running away from the foundation; in other words, the ground should slope away from the house. You should also check that the overhead gutters are working properly and not dumping extra water there. Finally, you might check with your county extension about how to cope with the carpenter ants.

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