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replacing boards on wooden deck

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by rawlins02, May 3, 2014.

  1. rawlins02

    rawlins02 Member

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    My beautiful wooden deck is in serious need of some TLC. I bought my home 27 months ago and over the past year I'm noticed rot in several boards. Rather than hire someone I'm thinking of a DIY project. So I'm hoping for some advice on how best to go about this. Here are a couple photos. The first show a couple places where boards, or sections of boards need replacement. The second shows a closeup.

    IMGP1442.JPG IMGP1440.JPG

    I'm trying to decide whether to replace just the section between the underneath support studs or replace the entire length. The glove in the first photo is where that board ends. About every foot there is either a pair of square head screws or a pair of nails securing the board to the support. To just replace the small section near the glove in the second photo I'm guessing I'd need to cut the plank above the support in middle of that stud in order to secure new piece there. Or is it just easier to replace the entire 20 foot plank in each case? In this last photo
    IMGP1443.JPG

    the rot is restricted to the first few inches near the step and the glove marks the location of the underlying support.

    Need to repair, seal and paint this deck soon before it goes to s%#t. Any other suggestions for methods (repair, seal, apply paint, etc) to get this job done greatly appreciated.

    IMGP1444.JPG

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  2. 1kzwoman

    1kzwoman Feeling the Heat

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    If I were in your place I'd center cut boards over top of supports at 8'. Might even attach a support block to stringers if you don't want to do center cuts. That way you can stagger ends to blend in. Ideal would be replacing full boards.
  3. bmblank

    bmblank Minister of Fire

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    If you're seeing rot in some boards it can't be long before you see it in allot more. You should check the framing below and make sure it's still good. If it is then I'd consider pulling up all the decking there and replacing it.
    Otherwise, you can cut directly over the center of the joist, like stated before. An oscillating tool makes it pretty easy without damaging the boards next to it.
    Warm_in_NH and UMainah like this.
  4. rawlins02

    rawlins02 Member

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    Agree I need to get under the deck and check framing. I'd assumed that rot was due to sealer/paint being old. I believe the deck is 17 years old, so even if it was reasonably good pressure treated wood on installation, that sounds like a relatively long time, to me anyway. The house is in need of fresh paint...about 5 years since that was done. So no new re-decking this summer. I'll have to decide whether to replace those 5-6 boards (or sections) now or wait and redo next summer. If the underlying structure is showing signs of decay I'm not sure what I'll want to do. I had a new roof put on the house last summer. New roof, new paint, new deck, oh brother...
  5. bmblank

    bmblank Minister of Fire

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    Joys of owning a house...
  6. rawlins02

    rawlins02 Member

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    At 2100 sf there's much to enjoy. Probably a bit too much for a single guy like me. If it weren't for the wood stove, cost of propane for heat alone would run around $400/month in winter. Fortunately I bought right around the time the market bottomed out.
  7. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    What's the decking material? That old semi-transparent stain makes it hard to tell. Around here, most nice decks of similar vintage to yours are cedar on pressure treated frames. The frames hold up fine, 'cept where the posts meet the ground, and sometimes the house. The cedar being used in the 1990's was mostly crap, all sapwood harvested too young, and sold to unsuspecting customers who didn't know that only the heartwood of cedar is rot-resistant. In most cases around here, the decking starts showing signs of rot in the 10 - 15 year window, but the frame is good.

    I replaced several rotting deck boards on the deck at my last house. It took several years before they weathered to match, even thought I'd pressure wash and re-stain (transparent... I hate the semi-transparent stuff) every second year. I did grow to hate the maintenance of owning a deck, though... repainting railings every 4th year, restaining the deck every 2nd year. Replaced the entire staircase, railings, and posts at the 15 year mark. Meh.

    Cedar has now fallen out of favor (at least around here), as folks have realized that the form in which it's sold (again, sapwood) is really no more resistant than doug fir. Most I know have switched over to one of the various African hardwoods, many of which can actually be had for less than cedar, these days.
  8. rawlins02

    rawlins02 Member

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    I think it's cedar, but I'm not very good at identifying wood type. This photo shows part of an area that was underneath a hot tub the previous owners had there. Not surprising the integrity of those planks is very good.

    IMGP1445.JPG

    Perhaps the grain gives a hint? I can sand off a spot area if that helps.

    I've also looked underneath at the frame and it is very solid. Assume concrete footings are good to have. No signs of rot in the frame that I can see.

    IMGP1446.JPG

    Even in area underneath rotted planks. Come to think about it, two of the damaged areas of deck were a result of falling parts from trees (tree trimming also needs to be done) and ice. So rot is limited to about 4-5 small places. I'm now leaning toward spot repairs in next few weeks and then a full redecking next summer. Guess I'll hold off on new stain this year in anticipation of that work. I hear redecking can cost about $5-8 per square foot. I'd like to think I can do that myself but I'm not very 'handy'.

    @1kzwoman: What do you mean by 'center cut boards over top of supports at 8' ?
  9. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    I bet thats cedar. I've taken a crow bar and broken all the cedar boards on some decks that (on the surface) look fine. I personally would replace it all.
  10. rawlins02

    rawlins02 Member

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    Here are three pics looking south from the back door, north down stairs from back door, and out of the back door at the raised balcony.

    IMGP1448.JPG IMGP1449.JPG IMGP1450.JPG

    Anyone want to venture cost for materials and labor if I don't do it myself? I've seen estimates of rates around $5-6 per square foot to replace. An ad at bottom of my browser shows composite decking material for $2/foot. Rough guess is around 700-800 sf. (25' x 30')

    I'm assuming replacing stair planks would not be hard to do. However they look strong.
  11. Warm_in_NH

    Warm_in_NH Minister of Fire

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    Fix the trouble spots for now as described above by cutting out 8-12' sections and swapping them out.
    Take an awl and check the rest of them so you don't break your ankle when a rotted board let's go under you. Frame looks great, must be white cedar decking to be rotting like that.
    When you have the money plan on replacing it all, nothing wrong with band aides in the mean time to get you through.
    Figure PT decking will run about .80-$1 a lf. About 2 lf to a sq ft. Decent composite decking is going to run $3-5 lf.
    I build composite decks for my customers, I don't see the cost benefit to them but people who don't want to do any maintenance live them. They move a LOT with temp and sun, most come with 80 page installation manuals, I prefer PT, but to each their own.
    Good luck.
    Joful likes this.
  12. bassJAM

    bassJAM Feeling the Heat

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    I'm dealing with this now, I've got some boards on my deck that are split and I'm planning on replacing them 1 at a time as a band-aid fix. The issue I've got is some idiot made the deck with joists about 30" apart, and then topped it with 1x4 so there's a lot of flex in the flooring. So unfortunately I need to replace the entire thing and do it right, which I just don't have the money for this year.
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  14. rawlins02

    rawlins02 Member

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    Thanks folks. I'm going check them all carefully, replace planks in 8' sections, paint each a similar shade, and evaluate next spring. The house has cedar siding and will the attention this summer.

    Kebony looks great.
  15. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    We all love our decks, but our decks really don't love us. I probably speak heresy, but IMO plain pressure treated pine, not further sealed, stained or treated, is the best deck material. Plus it is entirely maintenance free -- you can be sitting on your deck enjoying a beverage of choice while your neighbor is slaving away every couple of years pressure washing and restaining his deck or paying megabucks for someone to do it for him.

    Look at the framing on your deck: PTP and in excellent condition. The decking would have been the same if it had been PTP. Wood needs to dry out, and any treatment only serves to trap moisture and prevent that from happening. Our decks are PTP, and we even have about 80 feet of PTP sidewalk on 2x4 PTP stringers laying on the ground. Lasts and lasts, no treatment.

    Example: our dock to the lake is plain, regular pine without treatment, it is fully exposed to the weather, it gets wet all the time from the kids playing in the water, and it lasts and lasts. Point is, it can dry out quickly.
  16. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Jebatty, pressure tarted decking usually splits, checks, and wracks pretty bad, in the examples I see around here. It doesn't rot, and in that sense it "lasts" nearly forever, but it sure looks like hell. Not much good if you have little ones about, either.

    Docks in fresh water can be a tricky thing, as the organisms that cause rot thrive in the average fresh water environment. Many municipalities have banned PT wood for use in docks, so I see a lot of them being built from African hardwoods. Cedar Point Yacht Club just installed new docks made of Ipe, a few years back. Talk about indestructible!
  17. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    Hard to beat Trex type decking for durability and total lack of maintenance. There is also thermally modified wood, I don't have any direct experience but it appears a nice alternative to imported wood from questionable sources. Take a look at Cambia http://www.northlandforest.com/cambia_heat_crafted_lumber.shtml
  18. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    I don't use any pressure treated wood around the lake or on docks. As to the other problems, might that be caused by how wet the pressure treated wood is when purchased? It can be difficult to find dry pressure treated wood, but it is available in my experience.
  19. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    PT is wet when they make it and ship it to the store, so why is it relevant whether or not it has dried before you take it home?
  20. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    I don't know a lot about the pressure treating process, but I have cut lots of logs into lumber, dried and processed the rough cut lumber, and built furniture and other things, from my own lumber, so my comments relate to my experience in handling green to dried lumber to final use of the boards for uses from construction to fine furniture.

    The wetness is relevant depending on how the wood was dried, if at all, before treatment. Assuming it was kiln dried, the wood stabilizes in the controlled kiln drying process to relieve stresses, prevent checks, wane and warp, and end up with a straight, stable board. When it is wet pressure treated, those stresses can be released again. When the wet pressure treated boards are shipped, they are banded together in a mass which maintains stability, but when the banding is released, the boards are free to re-stabilize as they dry out, with the consequence often being warp, wane, checking, etc. The severity of these things is related in part to the grain of the cut board, with face grain/cut boards more likely to be unstable than vertical grain boards.

    If the wet boards, while still straight and true, are promptly nailed or screwed down, that will keep them relatively true as they again dry, but it will not prevent checking. The amount of wane, warp and checking will relate to how fast the wet boards again dry, the temperature, and other conditions affecting drying and restabilization of the boards.
  21. Lake Girl

    Lake Girl Minister of Fire

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    Pressure washing can be used to strip off old finishes but a neighbor tried something different. He got an old style bristle floor polisher to scrub the surface rather than pressure wash. My son was part of the process of stripping/restaining and said it turned out really well. Not sure how well it will work when trying to blend old and new wood for re-staining but it might work.

    What's your plan for the cedar siding? Edit - sorry not cedar siding just painting;em

    bassJam - if you can get under the deck, you can add joists with joist hangers so you'd be more like 15" oc
    Last edited: May 7, 2014
  22. rawlins02

    rawlins02 Member

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    Not sure. All I know is I've been in the house two years, don't know when it was last attended to, and it looks like it needs some attention. Basically to my untrained eye the stain(?) looks pretty thin. From what I understand it's common to apply a sealer and/or stain. It's a two-story structure and I'm dangerous on a scaffold, so I'll have to find someone who knows what they're doing to get the job done. The deck will be "on hold" until next summer...
  23. 1kzwoman

    1kzwoman Feeling the Heat

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    I have had good luck with wood iron local dealers in the past. If you are looking for possible applicator.
  24. Dana B

    Dana B Feeling the Heat

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    Wood decking is an unnecessary pain in the butt. It's great if you're the type of guy that enjoys the maintenance that goes along with it. Personally I have better things to do with my time.

    We had a small deck in the front of the house rebuilt several years ago with Fiberon composite decking and it looks as good as the day it was installed. No maintenance needed.

    Fiberon Decking
  25. Warm_in_NH

    Warm_in_NH Minister of Fire

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    So far this year we've replaced three TREX (composite) decks, all less than 10 years old, nasty stained looked like poop. Two went with PT cause at least they knew what they were getting, the other went trex again for over 3 times the cost of PT.
    We're nearly done with the trex one, looks great, but the components are as flimsy as they get. Plastic railing brackets, flimsy support blocks, just not what you'd expect for the cost. They used to be metal, cutting costs....
    20140529_164255.jpg 20140530_080533.jpg 20140529_164230.jpg .

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