Your Guide to Deck Repair
Whether it's a small fix or a big redo, every deck ends up needing some tender loving care at some point. Here are helpful suggestions for what you might be able to tackle yourself—and what you might need help with—when it comes to deck repair.
Many deck repair projects are definite DIY jobs, even for the novice repair person. But some require the input of experts to determine what needs to be done to maintain a safe, beautiful outdoor space. Here are tips for common deck repair scenarios and strategies for tackling them.
If Your Deck Needs Refinishing:
With time and normal wear and tear, nearly every deck needs to be refinished after several years to better protect the wood and revitalize the stain color. While refinishing, it's also a good time to address any minor deck repairs, such as loose boards and missing nails. To refinish your deck, start by applying a deck cleaner to every surface, including support boards and railings. If old stain is particularly stubborn in certain areas, you may need to use a stain stripper to remove it. Then pressure wash the deck to remove the cleaner. Once the surfaces have dried, make any repairs, such as driving in protruding nails, replacing damaged boards, or sanding rough surfaces. Then apply the stain or sealer of your choice.
If Deck Boards Are Cracked or Damaged:
If the rest of your deck is in good shape, it's possible to simply replace a few cracked or damaged boards. Tackling the problem on a board-by-board basis is less intrusive and less costly in the long run. To fix the boards, you'll need to remove the board by unscrewing the fasteners. Cut a replacement board to size and reattach using the same type of fasteners. Then seal and stain to match the rest of the deck.
If the Deck Is Wobbly:
Decks become wobbly for a variety of reasons, and deck collapses are a real danger to you and your guests. Your deck could have foundation issues, loose connections to the house, loose connections between boards, or insufficient diagonal bracing. Posts may have also been installed incorrectly, which can lead to rotting. Regardless, if your deck seems to have structural issues, consult an expert—an architect, deck builder, structural engineer, or contractor—for an analysis and recommendation as to deck repair needs.
If Deck Railings Need Repair:
Loose railings are a danger, but the fix can sometimes be quick and easy. You'll need to predrill holes and resecure the railings with carriage bolts. Generally, the bolt should be used with a nut and washer. If that doesn't do the trick, look to an expert—the deck may have more severe structural issues.
If Nails Protrude from the Deck Surface:
Nothing's worse than walking along your deck in bare feet, only to come across a loose nail. Luckily, this annoying (and dangerous!) situation has an easy fix. Nails that pop up on a deck surface can be repaired simply by using a hammer to pound them back in again. You may also consider replacing the nails with deck screws.