Decks can easily get damaged due to climate changes, as well as the wear-and-tear of furniture and foot traffic. Some decking materials are more durable than others, but that does not mean they’re completely immune to damage. Repairing or replacing your deck boards will eventually become necessary one way or another.
Therefore, it’s best to be prepared for this chore when the time comes for it. If you are trying to repair damaged deck boards or replace them with newer ones, then there is a series of steps that you must follow to ensure your success. After all, your home’s deck, porch, or patio should be an outdoor space that is functional, comfortable, and attractive, right?
If you agree and you’re a fan of DIY projects, then say no more and read the rest of the article to channel your inner carpenter!
Identify the Worn-out Boards
Take a stroll across your deck and look closely to identify the old boards. Make note of any curled edges, splits and splintering in the wood, and especially full fractures that create a trip hazard or a sharp protruding edge. These are the characteristics of a damaged board, and the extent of damage will help you determine whether to repair or replace.
Mark these boards with chalk or tape, so you know which ones to return to for further investigation. But how can you tell the amount of work this or that bit of damage might need?
Basically you want to do a risk analysis. Some helpful questions to ask yourself:
- Is this a minor chip or splinter that could be sanded back down?
- This curled edge that was caused by water damage- does it pose a risk for injury or can it be sanded down and refinished?
- Does that crack or fracture compromise the integrity of the board itself? That is, will it break completely with excessive weight?
- Is this board warped to the point that nails are exposed?
- Take concerns like these into consideration when determining what types of repair or replacement materials you will require.
Calculate the Dimensions
To find the right replacement boards, you must be aware of the dimensions and materials of the old boards. Measure the size of the board by calculating width and height. This step will allow you to find the exact replaceable size.
Purchase longer boards rather than shorter ones. It is safer to err on the side of excess because a too-long board can be shortened but a too-short one cannot be lengthened!
Materials and Tools
To replace the boards, you must acquire the appropriate tools to begin the repairing process. The necessary equipment includes a circular saw, drill, driver, nail puller, electric sander, and screws. You will likely also want a fresh coat of sealant and/or paint for the newly repaired areas.
Many different types of wood and composite lumber are used for decking. It can be difficult to determine exactly what your deck was made with if you don’t already know and it is fully painted. The visual aspects of the board cannot indicate much about its type and material. However, sniffing the boards can help identify the material. Each wood has a distinct odor. For instance, cedar will have a distinctly sweet smell that is almost syrupy, whereas pinewood will smell like- well, pine!
However, matching the replacement material to the original is not necessarily critical. This determination comes into play when you are searching for a specific strength and/or pliability, or if there is a specific hue you prefer for decking that is stained rather than fully painted.
The one exception here is composite decking. It is simply more weather-hardy and resilient in general than most wood types. You want to aim for consistency without mixing raw and composite lumber, one way or the other.
Repairing Minor Damage
Minor issues can easily be remedied with a bit of sanding. However, as counterintuitive as it may sound, you might want to power wash your deck before sanding.
Why is that? Because built-up dust, sap, and other debris can muck up your sandpaper and double your workload. Once it’s fully dry from the wash, it is easiest to sand down splinters and rough spots with an electric sander or a drill attachment.
HERE is a helpful how-to video on properly sanding a deck.
Replacing the Boards
Once you have all the essential materials, you can remove the older boards. Pull out the old boards by loosening the screws or prying the nails out using a nail puller. Do not use force or rip out the boards because it can harm connected boards that are otherwise undamaged.
Bring the replacement boards into suitable dimensions by using the circular saw. Position the boards into the vacant joist and secure them with nails or screws. Fasten the boards and then clean the debris on the deck.
If necessary, you may now stain, seal, and/or paint your fresh new decking. Check out our how-to guide for Stripping and Sealing a Wood Deck.
Replacing old worn-out boards can be daunting if you don’t know what to look for or where to begin. If you’re not sure where to find quality material, reach out to Lee Roy Jordan Lumber for expert advice on choosing the right decking for your particular project.