Repairing Decking and Joists

If decking damage is confined to a small area, replace that section rather than an entire board. This saves time and money, and won't compromise your deck's looks or sturdiness. If the damage is merely cosmetic, you can sometimes remove the plank, flip it over and fasten it back in place.

Before you cut completely through a damaged joist, support the deck on either side of the cut. Otherwise your deck could crash! Replace structural members with treated lumber if they're not visible. Match existing members that show with redwood, cedar, or pressure-treated lumber.


1. Remove nails or screws from the damaged decking board, using a pry bar or screwgun. If the fasteners won't come out, chop the board into pieces with a chisel or saw, pry up the slivers, and toss 'em out.


2. Inspect the joists underneath for signs of rotted wood. Repair and reinforce joists that have soft, discolored areas.


3. Use a hammer and chisel to remove any rotted portions of joists.


4. Apply a thick coat of sealer-preservative to the damaged joist. Let it dry, then apply a second coat of sealer. Cut a reinforcing joist from pressure-treated lumber.


5. Treat all sides of the reinforcing joist with clear sealer-preservative, and let it dry. Position the reinforcing joist tightly against the damaged joist, and attach it with 16d(3.5") galvanized nails driven every two feet. Or fasten it with 3 1/2-inch galvanized deck screws.


6. Attach the reinforcing joist to the ledger and header joist by toenailing with nails or screws. Cut replacement deck boards from matching lumber, using a circular saw.



7. If the existing decking is gray, "weather" the new decking with a solution made from 1 cup of baking soda and 1 gallon of warm water. Rinse and let dry.


8. Apply a coat of sealer-preservative or staining sealer to all sides and both ends of the new decking board.

  9. Position the new decking and attach it to joists with galvanized deck screws or nails. Make sure the space between boards matches that of existing decking.


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