You can use decking boards for many DIY projects. Even old decking boards can still serve some purpose. When removing old decking boards, you may find something to do with them. However, decking boards can be tricky to remove if you want to reuse them. Most methods of pulling up decking boards today involve a lot of tearing down. There are several ways to pull up decking boards without damaging them. Some methods will work depending on whether you used screws or nails. Here are some ways to safely pull up composite decking boards that you can try. 

Prying the Nails Out

If you have nailed boards, the first thing you’ll want to do is to pry the nails out. You can use the claw side of a hammer or other prying tools, such as a crowbar. But how do you pull out nails without damaging the nails or the boards?

If you are using a hammer, you will want to place a wooden block or any material under the hammer. It serves as leverage to make the nail easier to pull. It also helps you avoid making any scratch or dents on the boards. When pulling out the decking nails, you can try gently rocking them out sideways. Doing so minimizes any tears and damage done to the boards. 

Besides a hammer, there are other equipment you can use. You can use a tool called a cat’s paw to reach flushed nail heads. To do this, position the claw near the nail head and hammer it to dig through the wood. Then, pry the nails out, similar to a hammer. It will, however, leave some markings. 

You can also use nippers to pull the deck nails out of the boards. For finished decking boards, you can try removing the deck nails from the backside after prying them out. Doing so will minimize damage to your decking boards. 

Unscrewing Decking Boards

Depending on the situation, screws can either be harder or easier to remove than nails. Unlike nails, prying out decking boards with screws is not recommended. Because of the screws’ sheer grip strength, you risk the wood and the frame getting damaged. Instead, you will need to try out other methods. 

If possible, you’ll want to try to unscrew the screws first. For screws with exposed heads, you can grab a pair of pliers and manually unscrew them from the decking boards. It will need some elbow grease. Alternatively, you can use an electric screwdriver set on reverse and a drill chuck. Using these will unwind the screws from the wood. 

It becomes trickier and more difficult if you’re dealing with flushed screws. Since screw heads are deep into the wood, it may prove difficult to reach them. For these, you can use various screw extractor sets. These extractor sets are special drill bits that punch a hole into the boards and extract the screws. 

pull up decking boards

Cutting the Decking Boards

If you can’t pry out the nails or unscrew the decking boards, there are a few things left you can try without destroying the boards. One thing you can try is to cut the decking boards. Not only does it make removing them more manageable, but it also helps you prevent snapping or breaking the boards. It won’t make your decking boards unusable as well, as long as you cut the boards properly. 

Before cutting any decking boards, you’ll need to plan where to do the cuts. It’s also crucial to take note of the locations of the joists to avoid damaging them. You will also need to know how thick the decking boards are, so you wouldn’t cut the deck joists. You can use a chalk line to mark your decking boards. Then, proceed to cut them using a circular hand saw.

Another trick you can try is using plug cutters. Plug cutters are drill bits used to make holes in boards. You can use a plug cutter to create recesses so you can reach the nail or screw heads easier. Then, proceed to remove them using the mentioned methods. Alternatively, you can use plug cutters and cut the boards all the way through. Once done, you can effortlessly pull up the decking boards from the deck. For this, however, you will need to know how deep you’ll need to go without damaging the joists. 

Contact a Professional

When all else fails, you can always contact a professional for assistance. The professional contractors may have better tools or equipment to remove decking boards without damaging them. You could also ask around for recommendations. Forums, social groups, and similar websites are excellent sources of information.