Monday, October 26, 2015

Saving a wooden wheelchair ramp from an early demise.

This wooden wheelchair ramp is only about 6 years old.

Wood is a great mateial to build things with and has been since the dawn of human civilization.  It's one of the lightest yet strongest materials to work with; most flexible in terms of what you can build with it; easiest to work with without expensive tools and one of the most pleasing to the eye in a landscape.  However, it does have it's downside: it does'nt last as long as some other materials do, especially if it is not properly protected. 

This wooden wheelchair ramp is only about 6 or 7 years old, yet it looks much older.  It is still strucurally sound for the most part, but is showing signs of beginning to fall apart already. 

Wood on this handrail is seriously warped & is coming loose.

The wood was stained back when it was built, but they must have used a very low quality stain that lacked good UV and water protection.  In places, it is as grey as an old barn. Worse yet, it is really drying out in our hot, dry climate and is starting to splinter apart.  The handrail above will be unsafe to use soon if something isn't done. 

Wood rot on this siding.

The lower sides of the ramp are covered with wooden siding which is working well for the most part, but in the places where they piled dirt and crushed rock against it, it is starting to rot.  We dug the rocks back from it and will keep them away.  We don't get a lot of rain in Las Vegas, but enough to cause wood rot if the wood isn't allowed to dry out fast enough. 

Some sort of borer larva, possibly Flathead Borers, have been munching on this post.

This post shows signs of some species of wood borers, maybe Flatheads, tunneling in it.  It is still sound so far, but will have to be replaced if the damage gets any worse. We'll be keeping an eye on it now that we know about it.  Haven't seen any signs of damage in the other posts yet. 

We highly recommend looking over all of your wood structures on your property for damage like this.
We dug down as far as we could around posts to get them protected too.

A good quality stain with UV & water protection

We decided to start with a well applied coat of good quality stain first and see if that is enough to deal with the drying wood and hopefully, even retard further borer damage.  We don't endorse any products, so we won't show the brand, but the things to look for are ultraviolet light (UV) protection, water resistance and a moderate price.  Like many things, you get what you pay for and the really cheap stain isn't truly worth your time to use as it doesn't last. 

This project was done in the autumn in Octorber as it's a great time of year in the Desert Southwest to do outdoor hardscape projects.  Cooler weather makes it more pleasant to do physical work like this and the stain will cure better when it is neither too hot nor too cold. 



Not only is the wood better protected from our harsh climate, it looks much better too. 

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