replace deck boards with composite, Replacing Your Wood Deck with Composite Decking: Easy Guide

Replacing Your Wood Deck with Composite Decking: Easy Guide

Wood decking requires regular maintenance to stay in good shape. Homeowners who underestimate the amount of work that goes into a wood deck can end up with a rotted, splintery mess before they know it. Instead of demolishing your deck for good, consider replacing your wood deck with a more low-maintenance option.

Manufactured decking materials such as composite and PVC are great alternatives for homeowners who like the appearance of wood but don’t like the upkeep. And replacing wood boards with manufactured decking is easier than you might think — in this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the resurfacing process and replacing deck boards with composite.

replace deck boards with composite, Replacing Your Wood Deck with Composite Decking: Easy Guide

When to Replace Your Wood Deck

Your old deck boards should be replaced if the wood has become rotten, is badly splintered, or has begun to deteriorate. A damaged deck isn’t just unsightly, it’s unsafe to use and should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible to avoid injury. Replacing deck boards with new composite decking is worth it if you have noticed any of these issues in your home.

Why Make the Switch to Composite Decking?

As we’ve mentioned, manufactured decking materials like composite boards and PVC require far less maintenance than wood. They’re easier to take care of and are naturally more resistant to moisture, insects, and splintering; they also tend to last longer than wood boards.

Some other benefits of manufactured decking materials include:

  • Heat resistance (lighter colors are cooler on bare feet)
  • Scratch resistance
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Fade resistance (UV protection)

Cost of Replacing Wooden Deck Boards

New composite deck boards can often be installed on an existing deck substructure (the posts, joists, and beams that hold up your wooden deck). This significantly cuts the cost of replacement.

Manufactured deck boards cost more than most types of wood upfront, but the long-term savings on maintenance and long lifespan make up for it.

How to Replace Deck Boards: Step by Step

You can either hire a contractor to replace your deck for you or you can do it yourself. If you choose to go the DIY route, here are some terms you should know.

    • Posts: The vertical supports that hold up the deck.
    • Beams: Horizontal supports that frame the deck.
    • Joists: Also called secondary beams, joists are smaller and span between two beams. These slats are what you’ll place the new deck boards on top of.
    • Fasteners: The nails or screws that hold your deck together.

Remove the Wood

This is the most physically demanding part of the resurfacing process. The most common way to remove wood deck boards is to use a hammer and a pry bar. However, there are several different techniques you can try, such as this two crow-bar method.

Look for Sagging Joists

Once the wood has been removed, you’ll want to check for sagging joists. The easiest way to do this is to take a string and stretch it from one end of the deck frame to the other so that it’s straight. From the side, you should be able to see if the joists line up with the string.

If the joists aren’t even, shim or shave them down until they are nice and level.

Check Joist Size and Spacing

You’ll also want to inspect the joist placement of the current substructure for your wood deck replacement. Most manual decking materials come in 1×6 boards and cannot be placed on joists more than 16 inches apart.

Most pressure-treated wood, on the other hand, comes in 2×6 boards and can be placed on joists as far as 24 inches apart. You may have to make adjustments to the spacing of your joists so that they’re strong enough to hold your new manufactured boards, which tend to be slightly heavier than wood.

Inspect Your Fastening Systems

Next, you’ll want to inspect the fasteners holding your substructure together. If the nails or screws have become loose or significantly corroded, tighten or replace them altogether. Again, manufactured decking materials tend to be heavier than pressure-treated wood, so having a strong foundation is important.

Install the New Manufactured Decking

Finally, with the old wood decking removed and the knowledge that your substructure is strong enough, you can begin to install your new manufactured deck boards.

Each brand of decking will have its own detailed installation guide that you’ll want to follow carefully. But to summarize the process, you’ll need to make notches in the first row of decking so that it fits around the posts.

From there, it’s as simple as lining up your new boards and securing them to the joists with your choice of fastener. Older decks often used nails, but for your newly resurfaced deck, we recommend a more attractive and durable option like deck screws or hidden fasteners. Once all of the boards are installed, all that’s left to do is trim the edges and enjoy your new and improved deck!

Maintaining Your New Deck’s Appearance

So, now you have brand new composite or PVC replacement boards on top of your old (yet still structurally sound) deck’s substructure. While new technology has allowed manufactured decking to look more like real wood than ever before, the difference in color and texture may still be noticeable. The beams and joists will be hidden by the new boards, the posts often extend up into your deck railing.

How do you keep these two different materials from clashing?

Luckily, composite decking manufacturers have come up with a simple solution. They will often have composite post sleeves and stair treads you can use to cover your wooden surfaces for a more cohesive finished look.

Where to Find Decking Materials for your Resurfacing Project

Resurfacing an old deck is an incredibly rewarding DIY project. To get the job done, you’re going to need quality decking materials, tools, and hardware.

As a leading supplier of marine construction materials in the southeastern United States, Decks & Docks Lumber Co. has everything you need to get the job done. Visit one of our coastal locations or give us a call for more information. If you ever get stuck, we’re always happy to offer advice!