Making an Old Deck Look New
Most homeowners dread the work involved with making their old decks look new. Extracting the screws, nails and stubborn rotted boards is merely the beginning. Then comes the stripping, staining and challenge of making the replacement railings and decking boards match the others. And it’s no surprise that doing the work yourself will cost one-third as much as it would to hire contractors, leaving homeowners to wonder if they’d be better off tearing the whole deck down and starting over. But there’s a new option in town. If your deck is structurally sound, consider remodeling it with vinyl or composite decking, railings and balusters. The advantages are well worth the initial investment. Here are some tips and guidelines:
- Have a dumpster delivered ahead of time to dispose of nails, screws and rotted boards.
- Extract the screws or nails from decking boards. Use a crow bar or flat bar to pry difficult boards loose, removing the outside decking board first and working your way toward the house. No sense running out of places to stand! Loosen any posts that need replacing with a sledgehammer.
- To insure your deck’s structural integrity, inspect your deck’s frame and joists for any weakness, damage or missing connectors, especially at the ledger board. Make sure the ledger joist is securely connected to the rim joist of the house. If you are unsure, contact your local professional.
- If your deck is secure, you’re ready to tackle the deck posts. While some building codes specify attaching posts five feet apart, you should attach posts no more than 6 fix apart on center. To determine where to place your posts, first place your corner posts. Then measure the distance between the corner posts and divide by the distance allowed between posts, rounding up to the nearest whole number and then subtract one. For example, if the distance between your corner posts is fifteen feet and building codes require five feet spacing, divide fifteen by five. Then subtract one from three and you determine that you need two posts between your corner posts.
- Whether you are using recycled plastic lumber, vinyl or composite materials, you can use standard carpenter tools for installation. Replacing your deck floor with vinyl, composite or plastic lumber will give your deck a uniform appearance. Resistant to fading, cracking, and warping, recycled plastic lumber, vinyl and composite materials look very similar to traditional, regular wood products and don’t attract wood bees, wood roaches or termites. Another reason why vinyl and composite decking is fast becoming a popular choice among those who regularly use their decks. Plasti-Tek’s Gorilla, Vinyl and Genvovations decking are installed like traditional wood, have non-skid wood grain finishes and are watertight with several color selections. These products are competitively priced with pine and redwood and maintenance costs are less since painting and sealing aren’t required. Most warranties are for 10-20 years, varying among manufacturers.
- Lay the first decking boards outside along the rim joist and cut with a jig saw to fit around the posts. Attach with galvanized screws one inch from the edges and half an inch from the ends. Drive two screws at each joist. Lay the next decking board against the first, leaving a quarter inch gap for drainage.
- With uniform decking now in place, make your ordinary deck dazzling with deck railings and balusters. Required for safety, deck railings can be both functional and architecturally pleasing. Molded vinyl covers conceal aluminum brackets so you never have to worry about rust and corrosion. Railing styles are manufactured in a variety of traditional and modern styles.
- Balusters make mundane deck railings spectacular and the possibilities are endless. An often overlooked design element, aluminum and glass balusters come in classic, colonial, architectural, estate, traditional and scenic styles.