Installing New Deck Boards Over a Solid, Existing Frame
By Larry Walton
I had been keeping this deck alive for several years with an occasional replacement board, some sanding,a little deck stain. I even trimmed the ends of a section of the cantilevered deck boards. But now the time had arrived to build a new deck.
I started pulling off deck boards hoping to find a solid structure underneath. Several observations had raised these hopes. During earlier repairs I had noted that the deck framing was pressure-treated 4×6, that old fasteners were holding well and that new fasteners were going into solid wood.
We were thinking about making changes to the deck size and shape, but the retaining timbers at the lawn-to-deck transition were well established and would not be easy to change. Additionally, the location of irrigation components (lines and sprinkler heads) would have to be moved with a change to the deck layout. Once I confirmed that the existing deck framing was in great shape, the decision to keep the deck at the same size and shape was easy.
I ordered the tight-knot cedar 2×6 from the local lumber yard, which delivered the boards right to my driveway. I went with cedar because of the beam spacing, the cost and because the fencing near the deck was also cedar.
Replacing deck boards on a solid frame is a relatively easy project, but you still need to plan ahead. Because the deck boards are cantilevered beyond the joists, noting where the original edges were is important if you want to get back to the same deck dimensions. In our case, we marked the original deck board ends by stretching a string line over the ends and driving stakes so we could get the string on the same line when the new deck boards were installed.
Here’s how we replaced our deck boards over the existing beams.
Cedar is very resilient, but eventually it will deteriorate with exposure to the elements. Water damage was the worst at the ends of the boards, but almost non-existent under the eaves of the house where they are protected from water.
We started the demolition by removing the edge boards.
Dewalt’s 40-volt battery powered chainsaw worked great for cutting the deck boards into pickup-box lengths. There are no cords to get tangled as with electric chain saws and no gas or startup concerns as with conventional saws.
We stretched and staked a layout string in line with the existing deck board ends so we could establish our cut line on the new deck.
Although the deck boards were mostly nailed down, some of it was screwed down where I had done some repairs over the years. It was worth the effort to remove screws before pulling the old deck boards.