Now that spring is here, you may be noticing your backyard’s deck could use some tender loving care. Maybe the deck boards are worn down and loose, or the railing and stairs are uneven and unsecure. Perhaps the style is simply outdated and no longer meets your needs.
It’s time to convert your outdoor areas from drab to fab. But how do you know whether it’s better to make deck repairs, or go all-in and get a new deck?
That’s a great question—one that homeowners in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area ask us often. After all, your deck is a place of relaxation and fun throughout the summer, so you want it to look and function at its best. Here are some things to consider as you determine whether deck replacement or repair is better for your home.
Consider Age and Safety
Like any other aspect of your home, your deck takes a beating from weather and aging. The older your deck is, the more likely it is to have areas that need replacement rather than repair. Some common deck issues include:
Areas that are rotting away due to moisture damageUnstable beams that make the deck dangerously wobblySafety hazards such as broken boards, railings and stairs
If your deck is old and outdated, a new deck is often the best option because it addresses any damage and also ensures years of longevity. But if the deck is fairly new and is still structurally sound, fixing the deck may be a good possibility.
Do an Inspection
There are several aspects to an attractive, safe deck. You’ll want to inspect these areas for yourself, or have an expert inspect them, so you can fully assess the deck’s current condition. Do a checkup on these features:
This long, horizontal, pressure-treated board supports decks that are attached to a home. If the ledger board isn’t properly attached or is seriously decaying due to wear and tear, it can cause the deck to collapse. The most likely culprit of such damage is missing or defective flashing, leading to moisture damage and rotting.
Another issue may be the age of your deck. Older decks may not meet today’s safety codes and regulations, or may be made with aging, failing materials. These days, state-of-the-art brackets that extend into the house give a much more solid connection for safety and security.
Since faulty ledger boards are the main cause for deck collapse, this is the most important thing to check. If it’s seriously damaged, you will probably need a deck replacement.
Beams and Joists
The wood beams and joists are installed horizontally as support beneath the surface of the deck, and they’re extremely important. This support system can trap all kinds of moisture which, in turn, leads to water damage over the course of time.
Minor issues, if caught early, may make deck repair possible. But if the support system is seriously weakened, deck replacement is a better choice.
This thin, wide board wraps around the perimeter of the deck, either just below the deck boards or concealing the ends of the deck boards. If the fascia board is discolored, it’s a sign that moisture is being trapped behind it and likely causing rot to occur.
This important feature provides protection against water damage, and most municipalities require flashing if a deck is connected to the home.
If the rest of the deck is in good shape, any missing or inferior flashing can be installed to help direct moisture safely away from your deck and house. But be sure to assess any related water damage to see if a new deck is the safer long-term option.
These vertical deck features hold the deck in place above the ground. Both the base of the post and the place where the beams attach to it are areas where moisture can accumulate, leading to damaging rot. The more damage there is, the more likely a deck replacement is in order.
It’s only natural for railing to become loose or weakened over time. However, railing can become prematurely unsteady because of water decay.
If caught early enough, minor railing issues are easy to repair. But if enough of the railing is badly damaged, it may be too difficult to replace, meaning you need a new deck.
The surface of your home’s deck is the area that is most susceptible to the elements. Over time, wet weather will eventually cause rotting. So will sunlight, which fades the color of wood over time, and also affects the structural integrity of the wood.
If the majority of the surface wood is damaged, it is likely that the supporting joists, beams, and other features also are failing. And that means you need a new deck.
Consider the Costs
Keep in mind that the cost of repairing vs. replacing your deck can also be an important factor in making your decision. If the deck elements that require fixing are minor, then a deck repair may be a budget-friendly solution.
But when there are many deck areas that need to be addressed, the price can begin to add up. Sometimes, repairs can cost as much as a deck replacement. In this case, choosing to install a new deck can be more economical because it will give you the safety, beauty and functionality you desire, with the added longevity that comes with newly installed materials.
Enjoy the Deck of Your Dreams This Summer
To get a better picture of what your new or repaired deck can add to your home’s appeal, check out our deck and porch gallery for ideas. And remember, we’re here to answer your questions and give you a deck you’ll love for years to come.