How Do You Remove Rotten Decking Boards

Henry A
Timber Decking
Oak composite deck board

One of the biggest problems in decking is rotting boards, especially in wood decking. There are many causes of rotting, such as moisture damage, insects, and mould growth. But one thing is for sure; you will need to remove rotting boards as soon as possible to minimize damage. Once you let rotting wood decking boards on your deck, they will promote mould growth. In turn, that will cause more rotting boards. But the question is, how can you safely remove rotten decking boards? Here are some ways you can try.


composite deck board

Removing Rotting Boards With Nails

There are various ways to lay down ultra decking boards. If you are using wood decking boards, you are either using nails or screws. In most cases, using the former will make it easier to remove the decking boards.

For nailed decking boards, the first thing you will want to try is to remove the nails using the claw side of a hammer. While most people will yank out the nails carelessly, you will want to do it as gently as possible. Doing this will minimize any damage to the decking frame.

If hammers don’t work, you may need to pry the decking boards using a crowbar or other prying tools. As with using a hammer, you’ll also want to do it gently. Hastily prying the decking boards may cause damage to the joists, rendering them unusable. You can use multiple prying tools to lift the decking boards slowly and carefully. There are also several tools you can try out designed for removing nails and decking boards.

Removing Rotting Boards with Screws

remove rotten decking boards

Removing decking boards attached with nails is often easier, whereas screwed decking boards are likely harder to take out. Due to the nature of the screws, they are deeply embedded into the decking boards and the joists. Pulling or prying screwed boards out the same way as nailed boards will often cause a lot of damage to the decking frame. Unless there’s no other way, it should be the least of your options.

To remove screwed decking boards, you will first want to try to unscrew the screws. You can do this by using a power drill or impact driver set to reverse. You can also use pliers to unscrew them manually from the wood. However, many decks today have flushed screws, which makes it harder to take them out. For flushed or countersunk screws, you will need to find another way. In these instances, you can find several drill bits designed to reach the screw heads.

Using Plug Cutters

If you are dealing with hard-to-remove nails and screws, there are a few more things you can try if you don’t want to pry them out forcefully. One method is by using plug cutters. Plug cutters are special drill bits used to create holes in wood surfaces. They come in several sizes.

There are two ways to use a plug cutter. You can either use it until you have freed enough space to reach the nail or screw heads. After doing so, you can use hammers, crowbars, pliers, or drills to remove them manually.

The other way is a slightly more complicated method and will require some planning. For this, you will need to know the thickness of the decking boards. Then, drill holes around the nails or screws through the decking boards. After that, you can easily lift the decking boards. Lastly, chip away any wood left around the screws and nails before you remove them.

Cutting The Decking Boards

Another problem you may encounter is long decking boards. If you try to pry them, they will likely snap, making the decking boards trickier to remove. In these cases, you may opt to cut the boards into sections to reduce the chance of them breaking. It’s also an excellent way to separate rotting portions of the wood boards from unaffected parts, which you can use in other projects.’

In some cases, you may be using grooved decking boards. For this, you will often need to cut through the boards to get to the hidden clips. First, you will need to measure the width and the thickness of the decking board. Then, divide and mark the decking board into three according to its width. You can use a chalk line to create straight lines.

After marking the boards, cut the middle 1/3rd of the decking board using a reciprocating or circular saw. Next, take it out with a small prying tool. Lastly, remove the other two-thirds of the decking boards. You may need to pry the one side attached using a hidden clip.

Hire A Professional

If everything so far doesn’t work or you’re still unsure how to proceed, it’s best to ask a professional to do it for you. Not only will it take less time to do the job, but you’ll also minimize any damage that you might do to the surrounding materials.

Also, learn how to lay deck board straight on concrete. 


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