DIY Deck Repair? Here Are 6 Things to Know
Decks are a great way to enhance your home and make for a perfect year-round spot for gathering with friends and family.
Even the sturdiest and most well-built decks have upkeep demands that can build up over time if you’re not performing regular maintenance.
If your decking is a couple of years old or more, it likely needs some deck repair. The most basic deck repairs are easy to handle yourself. To help you on the path toward success, we’ve put together six of the most important things you should consider during the repair process.
What to Know Before Starting
Before jumping into your deck repair project, you must first diagnose the problems with your deck. For example, does your old deck have structural problems from water damage or wood rot? Perhaps some loose railings need attention.
Inspect each aspect of your deck to confirm what needs fixing before you begin. This way, you can gather the necessary supplies or hire a professional.
Do You Need to Replace or Repair Your Deck?
When identifying your deck’s problems, you can decide whether to repair your existing deck or go for a completely new deck installation.
Here are some tips to help you decide.
First, experts recommend that if the cost of repairs starts to near the price of a replacement, it’s better to replace the deck. You don’t want to dump money into a deck that will soon need to be replaced.
Second, keep in mind your deck’s lifespan. Traditional wood decks typically last ten to 15 years. Capped polymer decking can have a lifespan of up to 50 years if you take deck maintenance seriously. Thus, a total replacement is probably unnecessary if you’ve only had your deck for a few years.
But if you have a wood deck that requires replacement, you should consider replacing your wood deck with composite decking. The decking materials you choose for your new deck will significantly impact the cost and required deck maintenance. Since composite decking lasts much longer than traditional wood and requires less maintenance, you can justify a higher upfront cost.
Finally, if the problems are structural, you will likely need to replace the deck. While it’s easy to solve most deck issues when it comes to structural problems, the integrity of your entire deck is at stake. This compromises your deck’s safety.
For those that need assistance identifying whether a repair or replacement is better, a deck professional can help identify your deck’s problems and provide a solution.
Types of Deck Repair
Several common deck problems may need repair. Let’s go over some typical types of deck repair you may encounter.
Think of a refurbishment as a face-lift for your entire deck. When refurbishing your deck, you or your contractor will do the following:
- Replace worn-out fasteners and nails
- Tidy up the deck’s appearance by cleaning
- Sand or stain areas that need a refreshed look
If areas of your deck need mold removal, a professional can power or pressure wash the infected area. Don’t attempt to pressure wash your deck without ample experience. You could cause further damage.
While the power washing process is labor intensive, if you catch mold early on, you can save yourself from costly repairs down the line.
Resurfacing is like a complete deck restoration. You or your deck contractor will replace all the deck’s major pieces except the base. This includes:
- Deck boards
Since resurfacing is the most significant repair you can make to your deck without opting for a replacement, you may also consider sprucing up your outdoor space by adding a pergola or new furniture.
If the boards on your wooden deck are split or splintered, board replacement is an excellent solution. While you may be able to sand the damaged wood and use epoxy to fill in cracks and holes, depending on the extent of the damage, you may also need to replace some deck boards altogether. There’s no reason to throw away the rest of the deck over a few damaged areas.
In some cases, only your deck railings will need repair. However, railing repairs are more expensive because they require additional pieces and can be difficult to access. If you have customized railings, they will be more complex, but not impossible, to repair.
If your deck railings have minimal damage, you may be able to patch them. But most of the time, you’ll need to replace the entire railing.
Wobbly stairs are a safety hazard, so you must anchor them as soon as you notice they aren’t secure in the ground.
But what if your entire deck is wobbly? For those who want to know how to fix a wobbly deck, you’ll need to call a deck professional. An unstable deck indicates there may be a structural problem that requires more than a quick repair.
It would be best to have a professional assess the integrity of your deck before making repairs. You don’t want to waste money on a repair if you need a deck replacement instead.
How Much Does Deck Repair Cost?
According to Angie’s List, the average deck repair cost is about $2,000, and the typical range is between $800 and $3,200. However, many factors will contribute to how much your deck repair costs, including:
- Deck size
- Deck materials and delivery
- Mold or mildew removal
- Pest control
- Prep work
- Site elevation
- Time of year
- Type and extent of repair
If you’re on a tight budget, a deck contractor can help you find ways to save money on your repair without cutting corners. But remember, practicing regular deck maintenance is the best way to minimize repairs and save money.
DIY Deck Repair vs. Hiring a Professional
If you’re looking for ways to save money on your deck repair and have previous handyman experience, the DIY route may work for you. Cleaning and deck surface maintenance are easy to handle.
But if any of your deck’s problems require carpentry skills or your deck has stability issues, it’s best to hire a professional deck repair company. They have the know-how to ensure seamless repair. Then, you can safely enjoy your deck without further concern.
Even for surface repairs, if you don’t have any previous experience with home improvement projects, it’s best to contact a deck repair services company. This way, you don’t have to worry about making mistakes or accidentally causing further damage to your deck.
Plus, when you work with professionals, they’ll help you get the necessary building permit to carry out the repairs. Most municipalities require a permit before beginning the work for most deck-related construction projects.
6 Things to Know for Your DIY Deck Repair
If you’ve decided to embark on the deck repair journey yourself, there are some things to keep in mind before you begin. Here are six tips to help with your DIY deck repair.
1. Start By Cleaning Up
A clean deck is a healthy deck. Cleaning might not be the most thrilling part of the process, but it’s an important one. Nothing will age the appearance of your decking faster than dirt and clutter. Clean up your space as much as possible before you begin.
You can powerwash most decks to remove built-up grime but check with your manufacturer if you’re not sure your lumber or decking can take it.
You also can’t safely complete deck repair if you face dust, mold, mildew, and general clutter during the process.
2. Diagnose Your Repair Needs
After your deck is clean, you can get a full view of what needs to be repaired—including hidden problems that might have gone unnoticed beneath dirt and clutter.
Look for the following:
- Splintered wood
- Broken planks or drooping sections
- Detached or unsecured railings
- Loose nails
- Loose stair steps
- Moldy or rotted spots (may feel soft or spongy)
- Missing or corroded metal connectors beneath the decking floor
Address anything that looks out of place immediately, even if it doesn’t look serious, to prevent future problems. Once you know the problem, it’s time to gather the tools and materials needed for a fix.
Note: If you notice issues with the structural integrity of your deck, like wobbly or sagging sections, it’s time to call in an expert. Problems with the structure of your deck, especially when caused by termites or extensive mold, may require more serious attention.
3. Gather Your Tools
You may already own many of the tools you’re going to need—a hammer, some nails, and sandpaper will go a long way. Here’s a checklist to help you get started:
- A tape measure. The most basic tool in any arsenal, yet one of the most useful. You’ll need one for measuring replacement railings and planks.
- Shovel. You’ll likely need to move some soil if you have plans to check your deck foundations or expand your deck.
- Circular saw. When purchasing replacement planks, it’s always best to overshoot your measurements and saw planks down afterward.
- Cordless drill. These are necessary for securing replacement planks or tightening loose screws.
- Sander. This is for when you’ve finished your repairs and you want to neaten things up! Smoothing down wood also helps avoid splinters.
If you’ve got a specific repair in mind and aren’t sure what you need, ask us for help! We can help you figure out just what you’ll need. You can also check our stock of deck repair hardware to get all of the nuts and bolts you’ll need.
If you notice boards that are cracked, broken, or damaged by rot, they need to be replaced.
With your hammer and a pry bar, carefully remove nails and damaged planks, making sure not to harm adjacent planks in the process. With your circular saw, cut new planks to fit—and remember, it’s better to cut too little than cut too much if you’re unsure of the exact dimensions you need.
Place your new board and screw it into the joist. If you can’t replace all the damaged boards by yourself or aren’t sure what kind of lumber you need, it’s time to call an expert to help you get the job done.
Your decking takes a lot of damage from inclement weather, year in and year out. This can really build up over time and peel away at the original stain if not regularly touched up.
Once you’ve finished your practical repairs, it’s time to pull out the deck stain and sealant. Be aware that this may take a few days to dry, so start this process in the summer months and when there’s no rain in the forecast.
Composite lumber decks are low maintenance, so they don’t need stains and sealants like traditional lumber decks. If you’re worried about fading, reach out to your composite manufacturer for more information.
6. Consider More Customizations
After DIY deck repair, you might be tempted into sprucing up your deck in other ways now that it’s looking its best. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to add some new flair to your deck!
If you’re in a sunny state, consider installing a retractable overhang to provide extra shade. If you want to brighten up your deck in the evening, view our selection of lighting fixtures. Furthermore, many homeowners use deck repairs as a chance to refresh their outdoor furniture and decorations.
Need a Little Expert Advice?
If you need a little help with your deck repair, don’t worry—Decks & Docks has you covered.
Our deck repair experts are eager to answer any questions or concerns. We can also point you in the direction of a contractor who can tackle some of the more extensive repairs for you. Contact us today to learn more.
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Michelle has been with us for about 5 years now, sales at the Corporate Office. You can have them say something along the lines of how Michelle is positive and upbeat and makes sure to see our customers through on their jobs from start to finish. She is detail-oriented and acts almost like a Project Manager on the jobs to make sure everything goes smoothly.