Are you considering replacing your deck? Whether you’re concerned about the state of your traditional wood deck, want to upgrade to higher-quality materials, or simply want more room, knowing what choices you have is super helpful!

In this guide, we’ll go over when it’s time to replace your deck and what you need to do to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible.

When to Replace Your Deck

There are a few key factors that will help you decide whether it’s time to replace or repair your deck.

These include:

  • The age of your deck.
  • The condition of your deck.
  • The material of your deck.
  • Your deck’s function.

The age of your deck

Even the best-built decks will eventually need to be replaced. If your deck is more than 20 years old, it’s probably time for an upgrade.

Related: How to Care for Pressure Treated Wood (THE RIGHT WAY!)

The condition of your deck

The condition of your deck: If your deck is showing signs of wear and tear (e.g., cracked or splintered boards, loose nails or screws, sagging or uneven sections), it’s time for a repair or replacement.

The material of your deck

The material of your deck: Certain materials (e.g., pressure-treated lumber, cedar, redwood) require more upkeep than others (e.g., composite decking).

If you’re tired of maintaining your wood deck, it might be time to switch to a low-maintenance composite.

Your deck’s function

If you’re not using your deck as much as you used to, or if it doesn’t fit your needs anymore (e.g., you need more/less space, a different layout, etc.), then replacing it might make more sense than repairing it.

Related: Cheap, Quick, and Easy Alternatives To Decking

Deck Replacement Projects

Deck replacement can refer to two different projects, namely:

  • Deck Board Replacement
  • Full Deck Board Replacement

Deck Board Replacement

This is a type of deck resurfacing and involves the replacement of deck surface boards, while the original structure remains intact.

In some situations, the foundation may require minor repairs or additional blocking and support.

Because water damage to the deck surface, such as rot (shown), warping, or splitting is so common, it’s a good idea to replace deck boards on a regular basis.

Related: What’s the Best Wood For Decks? (A FEW CHOICES FOR YOU)

Full Deck Board Replacement

This entails the complete teardown and replacement of the entire structure, from foundation to deck surface and railing.

The joists (pictured), beams, or posts of the foundation are a typical cause for a total deck replacement.

Related: Alternatives to Wooden Decking

What Should You Consider When Choosing a Deck Project?

Step 1: Assess Your Deck Health

To determine whether you need a new deck, you must first have an accurate picture of your deck’s condition.

A comprehensive deck inspection of the surface and foundation of your deck may help you discover any flaws and determine whether repair or replacement is required.

Problems can include:

  • Surface Issues: Cracks, Splinters, or Warping
  • Foundation Issues: Sagging, Wobbling, or Rotten Joists
  • Safety Concerns: Unsafe Railings or Loose Nails/Screws
  • Molds, mildew, and rot in the structure or surface
  • Rusted or missing fasteners in your foundation or surface
  • A loose ledger board, is a crucial component of your substructure.

How to Repair Common Wood Deck Problems

If the difficulties described above are only minor, follow these basic procedures for getting your deck back in tip-top shape.

Surface Issues

To fix cracks and splinters in your deck surface, you can use a putty knife and wood filler to fill in the cracks, then sand them smooth.

For warped boards, you can use a heat gun to gently straighten them out. Be sure to wear gloves and safety goggles when using a heat gun.

Foundation Issues

If your deck is sagging or wobbling, you’ll need to reinforce the joists or posts. For this, you’ll need to use steel cables, screw-in supports, or similar products.

Safety Concerns

To make sure your railings are safe and secure, check all the bolts and screws to make sure they’re tight, and replace any that are missing.

If your deck is more than 20 years old, it might be time for an upgrade.

Molds, mildew, and rot in the structure or surface

In the first instance, you need to clean your deck, and then you can repair any damaged areas.

You can use a power washer to clean your deck, but be sure to hold it at least 12 inches away from the surface to avoid damaging the wood.

For small areas of rot, you can use a putty knife and wood filler to fill in the holes, then sand them smooth.

For larger areas, you may need to replace the damaged boards.

Related: Why You Should Never Use Bleach On Composite Decking

Rusted or missing fasteners in your foundation or surface

Check all the screws and nails in your deck to make sure they’re not rusted and that they’re tight. Replace any that are missing.

A loose ledger board, a crucial component of your substructure

A ledger board is a horizontal board that is attached to the house and supports one end of the joists.

If your ledger board is loose, you’ll need to reattach it to the house with screws or bolts.

Step 2: Think Through Deck Longevity

Do you have a specific deadline in mind for when you’ll move? And how many years do you want to stay on your current deck? These questions can help you decide whether it’s more cost-effective to simply repair your deck or if getting a new one is the better option.

If you want to move in a few years, some of the following things should be considered:

If your deck’s issues are surface level, you may choose to repair or replace the deck surface with new boards, as long as the foundation of your deck is sound.

If there are any structural problems with your deck, make sure you repair or replace the damaged area to guarantee structural stability, regardless of when you intend to relocate.

Repairing your old-fashioned wood deck or resurfacing it with additional wood will save you more money in the long run than a total teardown.

However, keep in mind that you’ll need to maintain your wood deck regularly until you sell it, which is both time-consuming and expensive.

If you want to stay at your present address:

Replace a deck with a totally new one, and upgrade to stronger engineered decking materials for a more long-lasting deck.

Replacing the entire deck with higher-quality materials may be more expensive up front than maintaining with wood, but it will save you money in the long run.

Plus, because your deck will be easier to maintain, you’ll have more time to enjoy it without worrying about costly repairs.

For example, a wood deck might last 15 to 25 years, but an engineered deck made with composite materials will last much longer without the regular maintenance required by wood.

Step 3: Consider the Cost of Repair vs Replacement

If the expense of repairs is equal to, or greater than, the cost of a full replacement, you may wish to choose a new deck.

A brand-new foundation, as well as fresh decking, will give you a longer useful life with a total replacement.

But how can you know whether you need to repair or replace your deck?

A deck repair professional can assess your project and provide an estimate.

If you’re thinking about doing a DIY deck replacement or repair, keep the following points in mind:

Materials

Material expenses vary depending on the quantity and quality of what you buy.

For example, you can purchase low-grade lumber for a repair project, but it may only last a few years.

Or, you can buy higher-quality materials that will last longer but cost more.

Also, don’t forget to factor in the cost of any tools or supplies you’ll need to complete your project.

Labor

If you are considering a DIY job, just remember that the timeline of your project will increase if you’re working alone.

Also, you’ll need to factor in the cost of renting any tools or equipment you don’t already own.

And, if you make any mistakes, you may have to pay someone to fix them, which could end up costing more than if you had hired a professional from the start.

Long-Term Costs

If you use traditional wood for your project, you’ll need to factor in the cost of regular maintenance, like staining and sealing, to keep it looking its best.

If you choose an engineered product, like composite decking, you won’t have to worry about these costs because they require little to no maintenance.

Step 4: Weigh Your Options and Make a Decision

Ok, now you know the key things to consider before deciding whether to repair or replace your deck.

So, what’s the next step?

The best way to make a decision is to weigh all of your options and choose the one that makes the most sense for you, your budget, and your needs.

If you have any additional questions about deck repair or replacement, or you need help with your next project, we invite you to contact us. We’re always happy to help!

FAQs

How much does it cost to replace a standard deck?

If the deck is old or rotten, the cost of removal ranges from $5 to $15 per square foot, so taking down a 10 x 12-foot deck would set you back around $1,200. According to Remodeling magazine, a new wood deck costs an average of $14,360, and a new composite deck costs over 5 grand more at $19,856

How long does it take to install a new deck?

Most decks are installed in two to three weeks, but this timeline can vary depending on the size and complexity of your project.

Can I install a new deck myself?

If you’re handy and have experience with home improvement projects, you may be able to install a new deck yourself.
However, we recommend working with a professional deck installer to ensure the job is done right and your deck will last for many years to come.

What are the benefits of replacing my old deck?

A brand-new deck will give you a longer useful life as well as a fresh start.
It will also add value to your home and provide you with a beautiful outdoor space to enjoy for years to come.

What are the benefits of repairing my deck?

Repairing your deck can be a cost-effective way to extend its life and avoid the expense of a full replacement.
It can also be a good option if you’re not ready to commit to a brand-new deck.

What should I do if I’m not sure whether to repair or replace my deck?

If you’re unsure about whether to repair or replace your deck, we recommend contacting a professional deck builder or installer for an assessment. They can help you determine the best course of action for your specific project.

Can a rotted wood deck be repaired?

Yes, a rotted wood deck can be repaired, but it’s important to catch the problem early. If the rot is extensive, it may be necessary to replace some or all of the affected boards.

Should I pressure treat my new deck?

Pressure-treating your new deck is a good way to protect it from rot, insects, and other potential damage. It’s especially important if you live in an area with a high risk of termites or other wood-destroying pests.

Do decking boards need to be replaced if they’re cracked or splitting?

If the boards are only slightly cracked or splitting, they can often be repaired. However, if the damage is extensive, it’s best to replace them.

The decking on my utility trailer is rotted. Can it be replaced?

Yes, the decking on your utility trailer can be replaced if it’s rotted. However, we recommend contacting a professional to assess the damage and determine the best course of action for your specific project.

About the Author

Passionate about helping households transition to sustainable energy with helpful information and resources.

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