DIY Deck Inspection Tips
Our deck was in rough condition, it was falling apart by the minute and is only ten years old. For my own peace of mind, research had to be done in order to establish if we could make the necessary repairs to our deck. I did a ton of research online as well as spoke with a professional and a trusted family member that builds decks for a living.
What I found was that an inspection was needed of the most important parts of our deck. Before you get started on your DIY deck repairs check out my inspection tips. If you can’t fix the most important parts on your own, you should definitely consult a professional.
#5 Deck floor boards
You may have nails protruding like we did, we simply hammered them back into place but you may want to replace yours with 3″ deck screws if you plan to keep your deck floor boards for years to come. We have decided to replace ours with composite decking since we get so much full sun exposure but will wait until next spring to tackle that, it’s too hot and I have pressing work in the basement to complete. We have power washed/clean the boards and will seal until next year.
#4 4×4 Deck Posts
The posts that connect the railing to the deck on our second story were in fine condition but they had been notched so that they rested with a portion on top of the deck floor boards and then attached with 1 lag screw and a few nails. The notching was obviously done in a hurry so the bare, cracked wood was very compromised. When the home was built, I’m sure everything was up to code, but the most recent code calls for a more secure attachment, I chose to replace the posts and I’ll go over their recommendations and the changes we made in a follow up post.
#3 Deck Stair Treads & Railing
Ours can only be described as HOT MESS and no need for inspection! If you have warped, twisted, rotted boards and spindles that you can pull off with your hand then plan on replacing those. The 4×4 posts were salvageable but that’s about it. I would have loved to replace the sagging stringers but that seemed more like a full rebuild than a deck repair job. We reinforced the stringer on the backside with a connection strap (that previously was secured with a 2×4 scrap of wood) and on the inside a joist hanger. They aren’t perfect but unfortunately our stringers weren’t as level and even as they once were or I would hope. I’ll admit it feels much safer and stronger now even with just a few changes. Read more detailed information here: Repair Deck Railing and Stairs
#2 Main 6×6 Posts
The posts that bear the weight of your floor deck boards are usually 6×6 posts. Ours were seemingly fine and according to an online resource the notching they did was appropriate but the beams that rest on the posts were scarily spreading apart. We fixed our nail issue, removed the lag screws and replaced with carriage bolts. Luckily that did the trick, the two boards are back together where they belong and resting safely on the 6×6 post. One less thing to replace.
DIY Deck Inspection Tip #1
With my research I found the ledger board attachment is the single most important feature of your deck that you will want to ensure is built correctly and maintained. It is what keeps your deck attached to your house. We’ve all heard the horror stories of second story decks collapsing with people on them so here are some pointers I found on an IRC online resource.
We have a 2×10″ board that connects the deck to the house, our builder used lag screws to attach it. It was in surprisingly good condition and we felt confident that we could make a few adjustments to ensure it is a strong, secure connection to the house. First we tightened the lag screws and then hammered in any popped up nails while adding a few screws for good measure, here is the link to the LedgerLok Screw from Home Depot that we used. Our joist are not attached to the ledger board using joist hangers, they were toenailed in, so we checked those as well to be sure they were secure. Since we weren’t replacing our ledger board or building a new deck, we felt tightening and reinforcing the existing would be a sufficient repair and we’ll be sure to check those lag screws more often as well as keep current on IRC changes and updates.
There are dozens of online resources that are free but please keep in mind your location, weather/sun exposure, amount of use your deck endures before making your decision to DIY your deck repairs.
This was such a huge undertaking, I can’t possibly make a single blog post on all that I have learned and I want to share it all! Be sure to subscribe to my blog and you’ll be updated via email when I have a new addition to this Deck Repair series!
If you feel you want to replace your deck and/or just build a new deck please find more detailed and current Code information here 2015 International Residential Code and References guide, this is a link to the ICC website. I have no affiliation with ICC whatsoever, I am just including this link as a convenience.