Tips for Replacing A Deck Plank

Have a bad board/plank on your deck? Don’t panic! It’s easy to repair if you have the right tools and a little courage. There are several options depending on the amount of damage to the plank.

Before you buy new boards there are several options to consider. First, is your board just badly weathered but still sturdy or completely rotted? If it is not rotted, consider just taking the board up and flipping it over. You’ll have a great looking board on the other side! (In fact, if you have the time, energy and inclination you can re-do an entire deck this way and end up with a deck that looks like new.) Secondly, if the damage is confined to a small area, it is not necessary to replace the whole board but only the damaged section. This is a fast, easy and inexpensive repair. Take these factors into consideration, then measure the length of board you actually wish to replace.

You will also need the following tools: tape measure, pry bar, T square, pencil jig saw or keyhole saw, a wood chisel, drill, galvanized nails or screws and a nail set. Beware of nails and screws made in China! They bend and break very easily. You will need to have extra on hand. It is also easier to work with screws than nails.

The process for removing the board is more or less the same regardless of how much you are removing. If you are replacing a section of board, mark the section to be replaced to either side of a joist replace with a T square and pencil. Next, using your jig saw cut the board along the line. You may need to drill a hole in order to have enough space to begin your jig saw. Back the screws out with a power drill set on reverse or pry the board out with a pry bar. If it is badly rotted you may need to use your chisel and any means necessary to remove it. When removing an entire board it can be helpful to cut it into smaller sections before removing.

Cut your replacement board to fit the area being replaced and attach it to the existing joists using screws or nails. Place the nails/screws a bit below the surface using a nail set for the nails. If a joist is damaged or rotted you will need to reinforce it with a “sister board”. To do this cut a section of 2 by (the size will depend on the existing joist size) several inches longer than the damaged section. Attach this board to the side of the existing joist to reinforce it. Then attach the new decking board to the new section of the joist.

If you are replacing a board that extends to the edge of the deck and hangs over a side joist, cut the board a few inches longer. After it is in place, trim the board to match existing.

To finish your project, sand any areas that may be uneven and apply decking stain or paint to match your existing deck.