Being outdoors, decks suffer constant exposure to the outside elements. Heavy wind, rain, snow and sun can all have a damaging effect on a deck. As a result, you will find your deck ages and becomes more worn quicker, especially if regular maintenance isn’t performed.

Even with proper maintenance, a deck will eventually become worn with age and use. Regardless of the reason, you may come to find that your deck is in need of a renovation. Deck renovation projects come in all sizes — some are simple while others may require demolition — so it is critical to study your situation before you jump into anything.

Here are some things to be aware of when it comes to renovating a deck, followed by some great deck ideas to create your ideal outdoor living space.

When to do a Deck Renovation

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If your deck surface is looking worn or splintered, or if boards are becoming loose, it’s time to repair or renovate your deck. The longer these issues go unsolved, the worse the problem can become, and it can lead to issues like rot, which can create a structurally unsafe deck.

The best overall time for renovating a deck is during the winter, especially if you want to hire a professional. Because most people will not be thinking about renovations in their backyard during the winter, prices will be much more affordable. However, if you don’t mind paying more for the work, renovating in the spring is another good option, especially if you require new deck posts (digging post holes in the winter can be difficult).

The Demolition Process

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For demoing your existing deck, you need a few things: a screwdriver, hammer, pry bar, possibly a sledgehammer and saw, and a demo dumpster for all your waste. You also want to be sure you have gloves, protective eyewear and closed-toe shoes to protect yourself from potential harm.

But, before you start pulling up boards or slinging a sledgehammer on your deck renovation, you first want to study the situation. By not jumping into the work immediately, you are potentially saving yourself from having a bigger job than actually necessary. Decks, especially raised ones, have a lot of parts, and demoing an entire deck can be a big, messy project.

First, you want to look at the deck and determine if the structure of the deck itself is safe or if it is just the floor of the deck that needs some renovation. You should also take the time to try and understand all the different parts of your deck. Then, only perform the necessary demolition steps.

Once you do that, you can start removing the deck railing by taking out any screws or nails, and then moving on to doing the same with the balusters and the bottom rail.

Then, the time-consuming part begins: removing the deck boards. Going from one end to the other, remove screws and lift off the boards. If they’ve been nailed down, it is best to use the pry bar to pull them off carefully. To make handling boards easier, you may want to consider sawing them down to more manageable sizes.

Following the same steps as above, you can move on to removing the stairs of the deck. Here, you’ll want to work your way down and cut any long pieces so that you can easily move them to the dumpster.

Continue slowly removing any pieces of the deck that need to go, like decking and rim joists, the supporting deck posts, and cutting the deck from the home, if necessary.

Choosing New Materials for your Deck Renovation Project

Renovating your deck is an opportunity to choose new decking materials. One of the best decking materials for a deck renovation is hardwood decking.

While it is seen as a costly option, it’s a beautiful, natural option that is extremely durable and long-lasting. These days, many companies offer high-quality hardwoods such as Ipe, Batu, and Cumaru as decking options. These woods rate high on the Janka hardness scale, making them extremely durable. They are resistant to things like rot and insects and are even Class A Fire Resistant.

Beyond requiring a little wood stain to protect the color and from UV rays, these woods are also fairly low maintenance.

The Installation Process

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How you go about a new deck installation depends on the kind of deck you are building. For installation, you’ll want a table saw with a carbide-tipped blade for clean cuts, a drill, a countersink bit and a sander for after installation cleanup.

During installation, keep any new decking in a cool, dry place out of the sun to prevent shrinkage or expansion that could lead to uneven application.

If the deck is close to the ground, it is critical to install a vapor barrier to help protect it from excess moisture. For this, you need to ensure the ground slopes slightly away from the home, so water doesn’t go towards it. Then, you can install the barrier and cover it with a layer of rocks.

The next step is to start on the framing of the deck at the desired, code-approved heights. Once the framing is secured and stable, you can begin installing the deck boards, railing and any other parts of the deck that you are replacing.

Spacing is a critical part of a successful installation, and the final spacing between boards should measure about 1/4″ for hardwood with a moisture content of 10-12 percent. If you are installing during a dry time, you should add 1/16″ of a gap to account for more humidity in the future. However, for a product like Air Dried Ipe, a gap of 3/16″ is sufficient as it will not expand too much.

Deck Renovation Ideas

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1. Mix Colors

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to make your deck all one single color. One of the greatest deck design ideas is to mix two shades together for a more interesting and eye-popping appearance. By creating contrast with the colors, you can also designate different areas of the deck.

2. Different Directions

While it is simple in terms of home improvement ideas, having some of your deck boards go in a different direction can make quite an impression. You can create a sort of border around the perimeter of the deck, to keep it from looking plain and also create designated areas.

3. Mix Materials

While some people assume you have to have everything made of wood if you choose to have a wood deck, that’s not the case. Consider mixing a wood deck flooring with a metal railing to break things up and add some contrast.

4. Use It Everywhere

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Why not also use your new deck material to create accents or furniture pieces on your deck, like planters, benches or a table? It can help create a statement piece that will tie everything together well.

A deck renovation is a big project to take on, but it’s well worth it to have a beautiful, safe deck for years to come. But, don’t just jump into renovating a deck without considering the work it will require. 

While in some cases, a deck renovation is an easy weekend project, other times it can take much more time and money. So be sure of what you need and want before you commit to a deck renovation project.

Editorial Contributors
Matt Greenfield

Matt Greenfield

Matt Greenfield is an experienced writer specializing in home improvement topics. He has a passion for educating and empowering homeowners to make informed decisions about their properties. Matt's writing focuses on a range of topics, including windows, flooring, HVAC, and construction materials. With a background in construction and home renovation, Matt is well-versed in the latest trends and techniques in the industry. His articles offer practical advice and expert insights that help readers tackle their home improvement projects with confidence. Whether you're a DIY enthusiast or a seasoned professional, Matt's writing is sure to provide valuable guidance and inspiration.

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