How To Remove Decking Without Damaging the Nails

Henry A
Timber Decking
preparing ground for decking

There will come a time when you may need to remove some or all of your ultra decking boards. You may want to update an old decking using new materials. Or you’re trying to replace a few rotten or broken boards. Whichever the case, there are several ways to remove them. However, most people will jump right into it, not minding the damage. How to remove decking boards without damaging your nails. But if you want to preserve the surrounding materials, the nails, or the decking frame, you will want to be more careful.

Remove decking

Removing the Decking Without Damaging the Nails

When removing the boards carelessly, the nails can get damaged. Not only can broken nails damage surrounding structures or hurt someone, but they can also be tricky to remove. If you plan to reuse the decking boards for other purposes or still use the existing decking frame, you will want to cause as little damage as possible. Here are some things that you can try.

Using a Hammer

A hammer is the best tool to drive nails deep into the boards. But it’s also the best tool to remove them slowly and carefully using the claw end of the hammer. However, most people will carelessly yank the nails out. Pulling it that way can break the nails and damage the wood. Instead, gently rock the claw side hammer until the nails pop out.

You can also use a piece of wood and place it under the hammer as you pull out the deck nails. The wood acts as a barrier preventing dents from the pressure, useful if you plan to reuse the wood. The piece of wood can also provide leverage for better nail extraction. Using the same method, gently remove all other nails used on the decking boards. Once finished, lift the decking boards and remove them.

Using a Crowbar

If you can’t remove the nails using a hammer, you can try forcing the board out using a crowbar. But because you don’t want to damage the decking nails, you will want to be careful. To do this, you can use two crowbars. First, pry one end of the decking boards carefully. If possible, use a hammer to remove the nails first. Then, start prying the decking boards with one of the crowbars.

Apply weight on one of the crowbars while holding it in place. Next, grab the other crowbar and pry the decking board further while still putting pressure on the first one. Then, as you’re holding the second crowbar in place, take the first one and pry further into the decking boards’ length. Do this until you remove the entire decking board.

Cutting the Decking Boards

In some cases, you may need to cut the decking boards to make it easier to remove the nails without damaging both the decking boards and the nails. For instance, if the decking board is too long, it will likely break if you pull them out. In this case, cutting them in half will reduce the risk of snapping them. For this, you will need a circular saw or reciprocating saw to cut through the decking boards while avoiding the joists, especially if you still want to use the deck frame.

Another scenario you will want to cut the boards is when the nails are too deep into the decking boards. For this, you can use a plug cutter drill bit. With it, you can create a recess around the nails, exposing the nail heads. Doing so makes it easier to reach the decking nails and use tools to remove them. The disadvantage of doing this, however, is that it will leave holes on your decking boards.

Other Tools and Methods

Besides the usual hammer and the crowbar, you can find several other tools on the internet that you can use to remove the nails from decking boards safely. Some of the usual tools you can use are “cat’s paw” and nippers to reach buried nail heads. If you removed the decking boards using crowbars, but the deck nails are still intact, you can use some tools that push them out safely. If it doesn’t work, you may try pushing or driving the nails through the wood.

Since there are several tools and methods you can choose from, you may want to check out each of them. You can use review websites, groups and forums, and videos to know more about these tools. You can also ask an expert for advice. If you are still unsure, you can always hire a contractor to remove it for you.


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