Wooden decks have a short life span compared to other decking materials. Softwoods can only last up to 15 years, considerably short-lived compared to composites or PVC, which can last for a minimum of 25 years. Hardwoods and pressure-treated, on the other hand, can last up to 25 years.
When your wooden decking is too old, or damaged due to weather or rotting, it’s best to replace them immediately. It will not only make your deck beautiful again, but it can also help avoid any unwanted accidents. If you have planned using other materials, such as composites, you might have asked; how do you replace an existing wood deck with composite decking? Here’s how.
Replacing Wood with Composites
Building an entirely new deck is not only time consuming, but expensive as well. The good thing is that you can have a new deck without dismantling the existing one. To do this, you should consider the following steps below.
- Assess the existing wooden deck. Composite materials have a high initial cost. So before doing any major projects, you should first consider the current state of your decking. If it’s still new or still in a good state, of course, you don’t need to replace it yet. How can you tell if the wood is in bad condition? First, if they are nearing their life span (15 years for softwoods and 25 for hardwoods and PT), there is a good chance that they need replacing. Even if they are not as old, warping, softening, and cracking of the woods are signs that they need replacing.
- Remove and Replace the Wooden Boards. In replacing the wooden decking boards, you have two choices. One is removing all the wood decking completely, and the other is removing only the damaged planks. While the latter may seem the most logical choice, the former is what homeowners and contractors do. If you plan on removing only some of the parts, there are some things that you should consider. First, you have to make sure that the adjacent materials are not rotting or damaged. Second, it’s likely that the composite decking boards and the wood boards will not have the same colour or patterns. And finally, they might not have the same thickness or height. In the rare case that it all matches, you may have the option to replace only the broken planks.
- Check the frame or foundation. Upon removing the planks, you will see the quality of the frame, including the joists. These joists can become loose and wobbly due to shrinkage and expanding due to moisture. Also, check for insect damage. If they are still in good condition, you can proceed to remove and replace the wooden boards. Otherwise, you will need to replace them as well.
- Adjust the Joists. If your wooden deck is old, the chances are that your joists will also require replacement. In which case, you will need to readjust the joists. In doing so, consider the material to use and the joist spacing. For the material, consider using either pressure-treated wood or composites for durability. As for the joist spacing, consider how sturdy you want your deck. Narrow spacing means your deck will be more durable and can withstand more load. However, the cost can go up by using more materials. If the spacing is too wide, on the other hand, the deck may become stable and wobbly. For residential decking, 16 inches is the standard spacing for joists.
Place the composites directly over the wood decking. Generally, it’s not enough to place composites over old wood. However, you can still do this under certain circumstances. There are two main things that you should consider. First, the existing deck should not be too old or rotting. Second, the frame and the joists should be in good condition and can support the added weight. If so, you can set the composites perpendicular to the existing rows of the wooden boards.