In addition to regularly cleaning and resealing, your deck should be inspected for any damage that needs to be repaired. Loose nails or boards should be secured, and boards with dry rot damage should be replaced.
If damage has occurred, your first step is to determine the extent and cause of the damage. If dry rot or water damage has occurred, be sure you find the source of the problem so that it can be fixed. Look for drainage issues and clear out any clogged drain pipes or other irrigation problems. Check posts, beams, and joists that are at or close to the ground because they are especially likely to suffer damage.
Maintenance Tip: Check, then clean deck surfaces every couple months to remove dead leaves and other litter that could promote moisture retention and promote dry rot and mold. Be especially vigilant about cleaning between boards. If your deck is close to the ground, putting a polyethylene sheet below the deck can reduce moisture in the deck itself, however, make sure it runs off so water doesn´t pool.
There are a number of deck cleaners available. Find the right one for your deck construction.
If deck cleaner alone doesn´t quite do the job, use a pressure washer. Keep the tip 4–6 inches away from the deck´s surface and use less than 1000 psi (pounds per square inch). Too close with too much pressure and you could damage the wood. Use short, sweeping motions and move smoothly across the surface to get a consistently cleaned surface.
Use a screwdriver or awl to test places where the wood looks like it might have dry rot. If the wood is soft, it should be replaced, otherwise the piece can be saved. Dry rot is a fungus that spreads through wet wood. If you have a dry rot problem, it is essential that all affected boards are removed and disposed of in such a way that other timber does not become infected.
Use a screwdriver or nail puller to remove screws or nails. If screws are rusty and hard to budge, the boards can also be pried up.
Weather-damaged boards sometimes twist out of shape, popping nails and creating an uneven walking surface. These boards can often be fixed rather than replaced. To create a simple tool for this purpose, cut a wide notch out of a 2x4 so that it can be slipped over the end of a twisted board and used to move the board back into place. Once the board is in place, 5” screws can be used to secure the board down firmly.
When new boards are needed to replace damaged sections of the deck, it’s a good idea to use a biodegradable cleaner and brightening agent on the older portions of the deck so that the new and old parts of the deck more closely match. A sealer should also be used to finish off the deck and guard against moisture.
When wood shrinks and expands in weather, it can cause nails to pop up out of the boards. The best way to fix these is to replace the nails with longer, thicker nails that will have a better hold. A drift punch can also be used to countersink the nails into the wood. You can also replace nails with galvanized deck screws.
Decks come in many styles and can be modified relatively easily to fit your changing needs. A single deck can be converted to a multi-level deck, or a basic rectangular deck can be changed to an L-shaped, wrap-around style. Other alterations include adding accessories such as gazebos, planters, or built-in seats. If your deck overlooks a shoreline or other windy areas, your railing can be converted into a windbreak by using framed glass panels to enclose your deck. Stairs, or wheelchair ramps, can also be added to decks to aid in accessibility.
Get help repairing your deck through NextStep Remodeling .