How to Replace Deck Boards

After many years, a deck's floor boards may show signs of aging. Wood decks may begin to crack, turn gray and rot. This is rapidly accelerated if a deck has not been properly maintained with routine staining, cleaning and sealing. Composite decks can fade and stain over time, as well. In many cases, the life of a deck frame will outlast the life of the decking because the floor is exposed to the direct effects of the sun and weather. 

Before you begin replacing your decking, you must inspect the existing frame. Old decks may not have been built to code or may be damaged. Do the joists, beams and posts appear in good condition and free from rot? Was the ledger board properly installed with flashing and bolts? Are the joist hangers and hardware rusted or missing fasteners? What is the joist spacing? If the joist spacing is more than 16" on center, you must install new intermediate joists. Stair stringers should be 16" on center for wood decking and 12" on center for most composite decking.

If the deck frame is in poor condition, it may be easier to tear down the entire deck and rebuild it from scratch. Otherwise, you can begin removing the existing decking. If the deck was screwed down, this will be easy. If the decking was nailed down, you will need to use a circular saw to cut the decking between each joist and pry the short pieces up using a claw hammer or pry bar. Your new decking can be installed just as it would be on a new deck.

You should inspect your deck every few years. Look at the footings for signs of sinking or heaving. Inspect your ledger board for signs of water damage or separation. Check the posts, beams and joists for decay, large cracks or severe warping. Make sure your hardware such as joist hangers are not corroding or missing fasteners. Look at your decking. Are there any loose boards or raised nails or screws? You may need to sand down any rough areas. How are your railings and stairs holding up? Over time, decks can deteriorate or they may have been built incorrectly to start with. If your deck was damaged by a storm, you may be able to have your homeowners insurance pay for repairs or replacement. Repairing a deck may be as simple as tapping down a couple raised nails or as complicated as replacing footings and rotten framing. Replacing a few deck boards or a rail baluster should be easy. You may want to hire a contractor to perform more advanced repairs. Repairing the structural parts of a deck can be dangerous. Take safety precautions when adding or removing posts, beams, joists and footings. Disturbing the frame could cause a collapse.

You can remove deck boards with a pry bar.