How to Replace Damaged Deck Boards

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If you have only a few cracked or rotted sections on your deck, replacing a board or a section of one could be the answer. Just make sure to use the same type of decking and the same stain or preservative as was originally used, so that your guests won't know for sure what you've done other than make your deck look a little newer and nicer.

Things You'll Need

  • 2-by-4 Scraps
  • Deck Stain Or Preservative
  • Nail Set
  • Replacement Deck Board(s)
  • 3-inch (7.5-cm) Galvanized Nails Or Screws
  • Belt Sander
  • Drill With 1/2-inch (12-mm) Wood Bit
  • Hammer
  • Jigsaw Or Keyhole Saw
  • Pry Bar
  • Tape Measure

Replacing one section of a board

  • Use a jigsaw or keyhole saw to cut through the decking directly next to the two joists on either end of the bad section (see A). You may need to drill a hole in the board first to be able to start the saw blade.

  • Cut a 2-by-4 cleat to fit in the space next to the joist (see B). Start one or two galvanized nails into the cleat before putting it in place, and then attach it flush to the top of the joist.

  • Cut a length of decking to fill the space. Attach it to the cleats with galvanized nails or decking screws. For nails, use a nail set to put their heads below the surface.

  • If the new board is not flush with the deck surface, sand down any high spots. Apply the same stain or preservative you used on the rest of the deck.

Replacing entire boards

  • Remove any damaged boards by prying up slowly from the end with a pry bar or, if necessary, by cutting the board in pieces as in step 1, above.

  • Measure and cut a board to the length you need. If the decking will overhang an end joist, cut the boards a few inches long, then use a saw to trim the new boards flush with the adjoining decking after installation. Attach each board as in step 3, above, and apply stain or preservative to match the rest of the deck.

Tips & Warnings

  • If a deck board has no structural problems such as cracks or rot but simply has an impossible-to-get-out stain or some gouges in the wood, you may be able to carefully remove the board (you'll probably need the pry bar), flip it over and reattach.

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