A useful guide to deck maintenance

August 21, 2015

Decks are vulnerable to weather damage. Stay on top of little problems like damaged deck boards as they arise and you'll save time and money in the long run. Here's a useful guide to deck maintenance.

A useful guide to deck maintenance

What you will need to replace a deck board

  • Work gloves
  • Pinch bar or screwdriver
  • Hammer and wood chisel
  • Epoxy wood filler
  • Hardwood joist
  • Saw
  • Coach bolts
  • Matching decking lumber
  • Water-repellent stain and sealer
  • Galvanized nails or screws
  • Angle grinder or hacksaw blade (if required)

1. Remove the board

  • Take out the damaged deck board, using a pinch bar to remove nails or a screwdriver to remove screws.
  • If you can't get the nails or screws out, try cutting them from underneath the deck board using an angle grinder or hacksaw blade.

2. Check the joist

  • Inspect the underlying joist.
  • If you find rotten wood, remove it with a hammer and chisel, let the remaining wood dry out, then patch with filler.
  • Cut a reinforcing joist from hardwood and secure it to the damaged joist with coach bolts.

3. Fit the new piece

  • Cut the new deck board to the length and width of the existing decking.
  • Treat it with a water-repellent stain and sealer.
  • Once it's dry, put the new board in place and attach it to the joists with galvanized nails or decking screws.

Extra tips

  • Drive in a new screw next to each old nail to tighten loose deck boards. First use a nail punch to drive existing nails deeper into the joists, then drive in coarse-threaded, galvanized or stainless-steel decking screws alongside. Stand, or kneel, on the boards so they're in tight contact with the joists as you drive in the new screws.
  • Heavy rains seep through the spaces between deck boards and can wash away the soil beneath – especially on a slope. To minimize erosion, cover the soil with a thick layer of gravel.
  • A popped nail can be hammered back in, but it will soon work its way out again. Instead, remove the old nail and hammer in a new, longer nail at a slight angle so that it passes through fresh wood. Alternatively, replace the popped nail with a galvanized decking screw.
  • Decks that rest on tall posts of 1.2 metres (4 feet) or more above the ground can sometimes sway as you walk across them. One way to stop the movement is to angle-brace the posts. Cut a length of 9 × 4.5 centimetre (3 1/2 x 1 3/4 inch) lumber and fix it diagonally from corner to corner underneath the deck. At each joist, drive in two 10 × 0.375 centimetre (4 x 1/8 inch) galvanized brad nails. These will secure the brace and stop the swaying.
  • Wobbly railing posts can be strengthened with the addition of a couple of bolts.
  • Splash a glass of water onto the deck boards. If beads form, the wood is still water-repellent. If the water is absorbed, you'll need to apply a new coat of sealant.
  • For a low-maintenance deck, leave the wood untreated and simply clean it with a high-pressure washer each spring. If the wood is dirty, scrub it with dishwashing detergent.
  • If weathered decking lumber isn't to your taste, give the surface some bold colour with a coat of exterior polyurethane paint.
  • Moisture evaporates from the end grain of the lumber, so never cover the ends of your deck's boards with trim or nosing. If you do, you'll encourage rot and pests.
  • Whether it's homemade or store-bought, a roller with an extension handle is the ideal tool for painting a deck.

This useful guide to deck maintenance and replacing deck boards can help you save time and money on your deck in the long run.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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