Repairing Decking

Replace worn deck boards.


It's not unusual for several decking boards to be damaged on a deck that is otherwise in good condition. Replacing a board or two is not difficult. New boards, if they are of the same type as the old ones, may blend in color with the old boards after a year or two. If you clean and refinish the entire deck, the new boards will likely blend in right away.

To refasten boards, it may help to use deck screws that are 3-1/2 or 4 inches long.

Opening the gaps
Decking boards should have 1/8-inch-wide gaps between them so that water can seep through and the deck dry out after a rainfall. If a gap is filled with debris, clean it out with a stiff broom. If that doesn't work, use a putty knife. If cleaning isn't enough, widen a gap with a circular saw.


An hour or two for most deck repairs

Hammer, drill, flat pry bar, taping knife, cat's paw, circular saw, jigsaw or reciprocating saw

Making straight cuts in boards that are fastened, fastening with nails or screws

Inspect the deck for damage to framing, and plan to make additional repairs, if needed

Decking boards, nails or screws

Cutting to Replace Part of a Board: Step 1

If only part of a long board is damaged and you don't want to replace the entire board, replace a section at least three joists long. Use a jigsaw to cut on the waste side of the joist. Begin the cut between the boards and curve into a perpendicular cut; reverse cut to finish.

Cutting to Replace Part of a Board: Step 2

Install a 2x4 cleat to provide a fastening surface for the new board. Fasten the new board in place with 2-1/2-inch deck screws. Allow the new board to run past the end of the deck and cut it to length after it is fastened.

What If ... Decking Is Warped Upward?

Draw it down with a screw.
Warped boards often can be tamed with a stronger fastener. If you don't mind the appearance of an extra fastener head, drill a pilot hole and drive a screw next to the existing fasteners. For a neater look, remove the old fasteners and drive screws that are at least 1 inch longer than the old ones.

Hold it with an angled screw.
Another option is to force the warped board down and drill a pilot hole at an angle. Drive the fastener. If a board does not lie down all the way after refastening, wait a week for it to become partially flattened and try driving the fastener (or an even longer one) again.

Removing Decking: Step 1

If a nailhead is partially popped up, pry it out using a flat pry bar. Protect soft decking (cedar and redwood are softer than pressure-treated lumber) with a taping knife placed under the pry bar.

Removing Decking: Step 2

If you will be throwing out the board anyway, use a cat's paw to dig in under the nailhead and pry the nail partway out. Finish prying with the claw of a hammer.

Removing Decking: Step 3

To remove a board without damaging a neighboring piece, start at the end where the board overhangs the deck. If that is not possible, use a flat pry bar and a taping knife to carefully lift the damaged board out.

Comments (5)
sgfsd wrote:

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6/9/2016 01:16:57 PM Report Abuse
ashleyreedxx wrote:

There's a section on our deck that got really bad water damage this winter. For some reason the snow didn't melt there all winter, and the boards warped quite a bit. We were thinking about replacing those, and putting some kind of seal over the whole thing. My husband might try to replace them himself, it seems like something he could do.

4/20/2015 08:18:09 AM Report Abuse
dovalelectric wrote:

i have to replace decking on raised deck. i would like it to be a solid surface and i would like advice on what material to use, if any,

2/25/2013 07:50:59 PM Report Abuse
tuggy369 wrote:

I have a 12x12 deck and it has shifted (leaning do to winter snow) its pulling away from my home.what can i do to fix this problem?

4/13/2011 06:41:43 PM Report Abuse
rogert2341 wrote:

I have bach pourch floor that consists of ugly 2 x 4 planking.... Its womanized and does not hold paint... Would you advise ceramic tile or some other covering to improve the deck appearance.... the deck is not covered and we live in Michigan....

8/19/2010 08:43:13 AM Report Abuse
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