Understanding Your Options for Deck Waterproofing – Comparing & Contrasting

Understanding Your Options for Deck Waterproofing – Comparing & Contrasting

You’ve decided on your perfect deck design. It’s two-stories—a top deck and an area below. Perhaps you’ve also determined that you want – or need – that bottom space to be a dry under deck entertaining (or even storage) area. Now, how about options for deck waterproofing?

If so, choosing the best options for deck waterproofing is vital.

Demand for such decks has grown in recent years. It’s increasing, according to many reports online, specifically those directly sourcing decking contractors. One such professional reported in a DeckingMagazine.com article on deck waterproofing, that 2/3 of his projects consist of elevated decks (higher than 6’ feet). Lately, offering a dry under deck option for those customers has resulted in successful upsells most of the time. Yet, not for no reason. Often for very little additional money over the basic deck cost or expense, a homeowner can double usable space.

If your dream deck plans consist of space below the top deck where you will hang out or stow valuable (or even semi-valuable) items, you will need the top deck to be fully waterproof. That’s why choosing a proper deck waterproofing option is so critical.

Challenges one might face in how to waterproof a deck right include:

  • Managing weather exposure such as excessive sun/heat or in colder climates, freeze-thaw-freeze
  • Preventing pooling or managing excessive standing water due to even slight deck or ground slope
  • Maintaining aesthetics and function despite foot traffic, the elements (weather or insects), and weight loading

Furthermore, one of the major problems with most options for deck waterproofing – says the author of the DeckingMagzine.com article referenced above – is this.

Until recently, the challenge has been to successfully deliver a repeatable, proven dry space that offers long-term client satisfaction. We’ve tried all sorts of approaches over the past 20 years, most of which suffer from the same premise: They allow the water to travel through the decking first and then try to divert the water away from the framing underneath.

Furthermore, he says, “To manage the water, we’ve trained crews to deal with rubber, vinyl, and aluminum below-decking and ceiling contraptions. But all of these systems have short-term and long-term faults. You don’t want to catch and trap dirty water in hidden areas. You have to encase the framing or the underside of the decking with moisture, heat, and sometimes even ice. Also, you want to avoid creating a habitat for animals and their excrement, hair, nests, food, and debris. Not only that, but most of these systems also void most composite-decking product warranties. Finally, we’ve found that all of these systems eventually leak.”

Even considering these challenges, there are a few different choices you have for waterproofing a deck. But all methods for creating a waterproof deck with a dry space below are not all created equal.

So, what are those options?

Vinyl Waterproof Decking or Tiles

Two of the more common options for waterproofing a deck, either of these can be effective. However, they are generally shorter-term in effectiveness than many of the other choices for deck waterproofing available today. You’ll be looking at more frequent replacement.

For one, their aesthetic – and functionality – can often (quickly) be harmed by surface exposure (such as weather or cuts/gouges by furniture). Additionally, they must be installed very diligently to fully prevent leaks. That’s a concern even from day one, much less as time goes by and the products are exposed to the elements and simply, “age.”

Decking Surface “Additives” for Waterproofing

Superficial surface options that are often added to an existing deck for waterproofing purposes include those such as polymer-enhanced cement or a metal lath covering. Usually, these have a good fire rating and stand up to furniture and general wear-and-tear better than vinyl.

However, to remain effective at keeping deck waterproofing intact, these add-ons often require frequent “touch-ups” as well. Thus, you might enjoy some initial cost savings by not having to totally re-do a deck to enhance waterproofing. But you have to take into account the amount of upkeep and maintenance required over time.

A Deck Waterproofing “Membrane”

This deck waterproofing protocol involves placing a plastic or vinyl “membrane” between the decking and the substructure. The idea being that this will prevent water from leaking below. However, for this to be effective, especially over long periods of time, a high-quality (usually expensive) membrane must be purchased and for maximum efficiency. Plus, you’ll need to get it installed by specially-trained professionals.

When the utilization or integration of a membrane is attempted as a DIY deck waterproofing method, this method has a higher risk of installation error or failure. Furthermore, if those negative results should happen, costs stand to skyrocket since decking requires removal and repair or possible replacement of the membrane.

PVC and Vinyl Waterproof Decking Boards

Some of the newer PVC and vinyl decking board waterproofing options use an interconnecting board style. They aim to prevent water from ever making it through the deck surface to maintain the dry under deck space. The design concept is strong. Customers often report several problems with these choices. One is that these hollow-based, flexible-material surfaces are noisy. That’s due to the hollow core causing expansion and thus, “knocking” against adjacent boards. Additionally, the surface can be easily-scratched, scraped, or cut like any other PVC or vinyl surface. Finally, colors can fade quickly or become altered due to UV exposure.

Aluminum Decking Boards

One of the most recent advancements comes with the interlocking aluminum decking board as we manufacture here at Wahoo Decks. We offer two specific products for deck waterproofing—AridDek and DryJoistEZ.

The surface of our AridDek aluminum decking boards is naturally waterproof and is not harmed by water in any way. The safe, non-skid, textured surface also naturally stays cooler to the touch than wood, composites, or concrete. The powder-coating color options added to the planks are pretty. Plus, it helps protect the recycled, durable, aluminum surface and keep it even cooler to the touch than it is normally.

AridDek has an interlocking decking design that prevents water from penetrating the decking. Each of the AridDek decking boards is also engineered with a continuous-channel, hidden gutter system so if any water does happen to get through, it goes into the channel and is carried away from the deck and area below. AridDek goes on top of any desired joist system and can even cover existing decking.

DryJoistEZ is a structural aluminum deck waterproofing system and provides part of the deck structure along with a finished beadboard “ceiling” appearance underneath! If installed correctly, it is 100% waterproof and won’t ever leak. Even better, you can use it underneath your favorite decking surface option for complete and total waterproofing that looks as amazing from below as it does from the top of the deck.

No matter what your deck waterproofing needs, we at Wahoo would love to help you choose the best options. Get in touch and tell us about the deck design you are trying to achieve. Quotes for our products on your deck designs are always complimentary and we’d love to help you create the perfect waterproof deck for you!