Repairing Framing

Learn how to repair deck framing.

Repair Deck Framing

If you find several deck framing members that are substantially rotten, it's time to consider tearing down your deck and starting over. However, if the boards are not severely damaged or if you are certain that only a few are rotten, repairs may solve the problem. Consult with a professional deck builder if you are not sure.

Keeping it strong
If a deck feels spongy when you jump on it, it may be underbuilt, with joists or beams that are too small for their spans. If you have room to work underneath, it may be possible to shore it up by installing a new beam with posts and footings, though it can be slow, tedious work. To add a modest amount of extra strength, install a row of blocking in the middle of the joists and support it with a post or two.

Checklist

Time
A couple of hours for most repairs

Tools
Drill, hammer, circular saw, reciprocating saw, flat pry bar, cat's paw

Skills
Fastening with screws or nails while working in awkward positions

Prep
Inspect the entire deck to make sure the repairs will fix all the problems

Materials
Joist material, 2x4 for braces, screws, nails, carriage bolts with nuts and washers

Railing Repairs: Step 1

If a cap railing is partially rotten but mostly sound, clean out the joints where moisture and debris collect, let the piece dry, and apply sealer. If the damage is severe, remove the cap and use it as a template for cutting a replacement piece.

Railing Repairs: Step 2

When installing the new piece of cap railing, begin at a corner joint. Clamp a scrap in place to hold the old and new pieces even. Drill pilot holes before using a 3-inch screw to snug up the joint. Apply two fasteners at each post.

Shore Up a Joist

A joist that is cracked and sagging can be splinted with a piece of pressure-treated lumber of the same size. Begin by placing a scrap of 2x lumber or a couple of layers of plywood on the ground beneath the damage. Cut a 2x4 long enough to be wedged beneath the joist -- it should be long enough to require a few whacks with a hammer to get it nearly upright. Cut a splint so it extends 2 feet on either side of the damage and set it in place above the support. Continue to tap the support upright until the cracked joist is even with the splint.

Fix the splint in place by drilling holes for two 1/2x8-inch galvanized carriage bolts at each end. Pound the carriage bolts in place, attach the washer and nut, and tighten. Remove the temporary support.

Post Repairs: Step 1

Before removing a damaged deck post, install a temporary support to hold up the deck while you work. Lay a 2x6 or 2x8 on the ground below. Cut a 2x4 or 4x4 to fit tightly, and hammer it into place.

Post Repairs: Step 2

Remove fasteners or cut through them using a reciprocating saw equipped with a metal-cutting blade.

Post Repairs: Step 3

Use the old post as a template for cutting a new one. Mimic any notches and angle cuts precisely.

Post Repairs: Step 4

Slip the new post into position and fasten it with deck screws, lag screws, or carriage bolts. Remove the temporary support.

Repairing a Stringer: Step 1

Stringers often develop rot in the open grain where they were cut. To remove one, take off the posts, railing, and treads. Remove or cut through the nails or screws that hold the stringer in place.

Repairing a Stringer: Step 2

Remove the stringer. Lay it on top of a new pressure-treated 2x12, crown side up. Use the old stringer as a template for cutting a new one.

Repairing a Stringer: Step 3

Anchor the new stringer securely. Attach it with angle brackets and check for square. Reinstall the treads using 3-inch deck screws.

Repairing a Stringer: Step 4

Take the opportunity to replace any damaged stair railings and posts -- some may split in the process of dismantling the stairs. Use the old pieces as guides for cutting new ones.


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