View Full Version : Replacing deck boards

Justin Foley
04-27-2018, 12:04 PM
One of my bigger projects this spring/summer is replacing deck boards. Is it possible (or even feasible) to replace one board at a time instead of just pulling up all of the boards at once? My thought is maybe removing an entire row of boards and simply replacing them with new ones. I assume it wouldn't make sense to measure the old boards and replace them with the exact length, since the boards would have shrunk over the years.

Any thoughts/advice are appreciated!

Jim Becker
04-27-2018, 1:09 PM
Yes, you can do that, and you'll find that most of any shrinkage is going to be in width, not length. :)

John K Jordan
04-27-2018, 1:55 PM
Yes, or perhaps pull up two or three at a time.

Are they installed with nails or screws? If nailed, getting one up is sometimes difficult since you might not have anything to pry against. We recently took down a large deck here. If you remove one you have room to put long 2x4 in the gap and pry the second one out, probably best done with levering against another 2x4 laid flat for a fulcrum. We removed all the boards so as one was pried up it was flipped over, the nails points hammered down, and the board slid over and laid upside down to provide support for working and for prying. Easier if the boards are held with screws that you can get out.

BTW, I found that installing the boards too tight together was not a good idea if the boards are too dry to shrink. If the boards are too tight dirt can accumulate in the crack and hold moisture. If the boards are installed wet, they will shrink enough to make a gap. Otherwise, I generally use 16p nails for spacers. I'd rather have a large gap than one too small. (And I always install new boards with screws.)


Justin Foley
04-27-2018, 2:24 PM
Thanks, guys! My plan is to basically take a full row of the boards, pull them up, check the joists, then install the new boards. Wash, rinse, repeat. They are held in with screws, but some of them are in terrible shape, so it should be interesting. I also noticed the deck rail posts were notched when they were installed, so I'll have to replace those (and the railing), too. The only bummer is the deck is pretty big, so it'll be a long project.

Fun times are ahead for me! I think beer is in my future.

Bill Dufour
04-27-2018, 5:32 PM
Check ebay for good prices on bulk stainless screws and the insert driver bits.
Bill D.

Ed Aumiller
04-27-2018, 8:37 PM
Do not know where you are located... but you can now buy pressure treated lumber that is kiln dried after treatment... KDAT...
Last summer I replaced my deck boards (1800 sq ft) with them and it was great to work with the extra quality they provide..
You have to see it to believe it... plus no warping or bending as they dry since they are already seasoned !!!

They produce it at Madison Wood in Madison, VA their website is www.madwood.com
It cost about 10% more than the wet stuff that you buy at Lowes or Home Depot, but well worth it..

I made a board puller from 1" square tubing about 4' long with an 8" piece welded on one end.. like a big "L" and made it very
easy to remove them while standing up.. you could use 1" pipe, etc with an elbow so you do not have to weld it...
sure made it easy to pull them up..

Lee Schierer
04-28-2018, 10:00 AM
Be aware that unless you use the kiln dried treated lumber, the new boards are going to be wider than the old ones in the deck due to moisture, so don't trim them to create gaps..

Bill Orbine
04-28-2018, 12:27 PM
What condition is the framing underneath? You could run into bad spots here and there that it would be wise to pull up all the boards at once before proceeding with new board installation. And it is not a bad idea to cap the ledger board, trusses and beams while you are at it.

Rich Engelhardt
04-28-2018, 1:18 PM
What condition is the framing underneath? You could run into bad spots here and there that it would be wise to pull up all the boards at once before proceeding with new board installation. And it is not a bad idea to cap the ledger board, trusses and beams while you are at it.Yep....and man does that,,,umm,,,inhale vigorously - when that happens.
There's only one thing worse.
Having some idiot use common nails to put together the whole deck.
To top that off, some real idiot came along after they all started to rust & drove in drywall screws to stick all the boards back in place.

Tom Stenzel
04-28-2018, 2:02 PM
The deck on the back of my house is 24' by 10'. The back door is the only way to the yard so I replaced the boards 4 at a time, all the boards underneath were OK. I think I calculated about 940 screws holding the boards down. They were all unscrewed or dug out with a chisel rather than just pry them up and wreck everything underneath. It was the ideal job for me, even I can lay on the ground without falling off.

The replacement boards were installed butted against each other. They've now shrunk enough so that I have two gaps that could catch a high heel.

There was one problem with the deck. There was a board that was 3 1/2" at the house end, and 1" wide at the far end. Placed so that when I went out the back door it was the first thing I saw and always bugged me. Turns out that the deck is 2 1/2" narrower at the far end from the house. I ended up ripping a taper on the last 12 deck boards 1/4" at the house end to 1/2" at the far end. I don't see that problem anymore.


Justin Foley
04-28-2018, 10:03 PM
I'm not entirely sure about the condition of the framing. I'll look at it when I start pulling up boards. I would have liked to pull all the boards out, but the deck is pretty big and we want to continue using it now that the weather is better. It'd probably take me a long time to get it done. Plus, cost is always a factor.

I went to HD to get decking, but all their boards were warped and just in bad condition. Lumber yard may be better for that. I ended up replacing a section of rail instead. My mitres look like crap and don't fit together all that well. Still, it was a lot of fun!