DIY Repairing Your Deck? 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 towards success, we’ve put together six of the most important things you should consider during the repair process.
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 won’t also be able to safely complete deck repair if you’re fighting against dust, mold, mildew, and general clutter during the process. Good synthetic decking can last up to 30 years and lumber up to 15, but neither can stay clean that long.
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
Anything that looks out of place, even if it doesn’t look serious, should be addressed immediately to prevent future problems. Once you know what the problem is, 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’re likely going to 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 not sure 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 who can help you get the job done.
Your decking takes a lot of damage from inclement weather, year in 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 designed to be 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 think you need a little help with your deck repair, don’t worry—Decks & Docks has got you covered.
Our deck repair experts are eager to answer any questions or concerns you may have. We can also point you in the direction of a contractor who can tackle some of the larger repairs for you. Contact us today to learn more.