Can you replace deck boards without replacing the entire deck? For sure. You can pry up old boards and put new ones in. But that may not be in your best interests. There are some circumstances where it is not a good idea to just replace the deck boards that look the most worn and then continue using the deck. Let us explain when and how you can be selective about your deck board replacements.

Should You Replace a Deck Board?

A deck doesn’t wear evenly. Boards beneath furniture, in high traffic areas, or which are especially exposed to the elements are likely to show wear first. You might be tempted to just replace those boards and move on. However, if the structural elements of your deck also need to be replaced, you could have an unsafe deck. Or, you could simply need to make repairs soon and end up replacing those key boards a second time. So, don’t waste your effort and check to see if the other elements of your deck need work before you launch into a replacement project.

Specifically, you should look at your deck for these conditions:

  • Footings: Footings should be deep, not warped and not cracked.
  • Wood health: All of the wood across your deck should be free from rot and damage. You can assess it visually and also press a screwdriver against it. If it sinks in, then the wood is compromised.
  • Structural integrity: A deck professional can let you know if the design of your deck is structurally sound. If it isn’t, you may have already noticed signs like unusual sagging, breaks in the wood or sinking. If you simply change out the effected boards without addressing the underlying cause then these boards will simply suffer the damage again.

While a professional is assessing your deck, they may also look for more specific signs your deck is in good order and in line with your local building codes, including the integrity of the railing.

How to Replace a Deck Board

If you’ve discovered that your deck is mainly in great condition, that’s convenient. You will be able to simply replace deck boards and then enjoy your deck for many more years to come. Before you get started it is important to plan out how many boards to replace and how long those boards need to be. Any replacement sections need to span at least two joists, so that they are properly supported and safe.

Then you should pick out the lumber you will need for the replacements. Of course, you’ll want to match the species and the treatments, stains or sealants in order to achieve the same look. For some species, the new wood may stand out until the wood weathers. If you will be bothered by this look, then you may want to go ahead and replace the whole deck.

Replacing deck boards is, otherwise, as simple as cutting out the old and adding the new. But, it might be worth your time to get a professional to do it for you.