Wooden decks, even those made of pressure-treated timber that’s supposed to be resistant to insects, water and rot, are increasingly prone to damage over time, especially when they’re exposed to direct sunlight and frequent rain. You must inspect your wooden deck regularly to see if there are any damage that needs to be repaired before they worsen.
If you’re ready to replace your wooden decking boards because you hadn’t realised and prepared for the high maintenance involved, or anticipated the number of guests complaining to you because they’ve tripped on a crack or found a splinter in their foot from your deck, then perhaps it’s time to consider upgrading to composite decking. Composite decking boards are not only environmentally friendly because they’re made from recycled materials, but they also won’t crack, splinter or injure your family and friends.
But can you replace your wooden deck boards with composite decking ? Absolutely.
When to Replace Your Existing Decking Boards
There are millions of wooden decks that are over two decades old. The older your deck is, the higher the risk of accidents and injuries caused by a worn-out deck with boards that have rotted, splintered and cracked.
You need to plan renovating your deck when the posts supporting it start to rot, when the deck boards start to wobble when you step and walk on them or when there are serious structural damages causing your deck to rot and the frame to sag. Rot also makes the timber susceptible to termites that will eat through the wood and allow more water in, letting the rot spread much faster throughout the structure.
To test if there are any potential damages on your deck, you can use a screwdriver to prod your deck posts and assess if the wood is still hard and sturdy. If you discover that the wood is soft, it’s likely that rotting has started. You can apply a wood preservative if the rot is still small, but you need to regularly maintain your wooden deck to prevent further deterioration.
Aside from the deck posts, you also need to inspect the beams, joists and railings as well as the ledges and all your deck boards. If your wooden boards have turned soft and have begun to warp as a result of rot or water damage, then it’s a sign to replace them.
There are other reasons to replace your deck that’s not related to damage. Board gaps are caused by certain types of wood that shrink over time and this problem can only be fixed by removing and replacing the boards. Another reason would be the expansion of your deck or the need to alter the material to suit a swimming pool. It would be best to install composite decking if you expect the boards to be repeatedly splashed with pool water. This will also give you a chance to improve the design of your deck since composite decking boards come in different colours and styles.
Compliance to updated building regulations is another reason to renovate your deck. If your deck conforms to dictated structural designs when it was installed decades ago, there might be new building and safety codes to apply, requiring you to upgrade your deck.
Why Replace Wooden Decking Boards with Composite
Some homeowners who installed their decks over twenty years ago may not have had the option to use low-maintenance composite decking boards for their outdoor deck. Even if they had fitted composite decking boards, they only had early-generation composite decking materials that were slippery when wet and were not as durable as the modern composite decking, we have today.
Todays’ composite decking is resistant to moisture, UV light, slips and scratches. Since composite decking materials are made from a mixture of organic wood and plastics, they are denser than their wooden counterparts, they’re not slippery because of their rubbery resin coating called a cap (Co-Extrusion), their coating prevents fading and damage caused by the scorching sun, and again, they don’t crack, scratch, splinter or rot.
Composite decking boards are not just friendly to the environment but also to your bare feet. They are extremely durable and only require low maintenance. Still, some homeowners are hesitant replacing their decking boards with composite decking without having to build an entirely new substructure. It is possible to replace individual wooden boards with composite decking without replacing the substructure.
Replacing Individual Wooden Boards with Composite Decking
Before you renovate your wooden deck, you need to consider some key factors. First, check that your substructure is undamaged and compliant to present building regulations. Second, verify if the spacing between existing joists supports the composite boards of your choice. Moreover, you will want to maintain a cohesive look, so check that the composite decking boards you’ll use have the same thickness of the remaining decking boards to guarantee you keep a smooth decking surface. Find the closest design as well because you don’t want a mismatched appearance. The good news is composite decking manufacturers have boards available in a wide range of designs and colours and you can surely find a style that closely resembles what you have.
If there is no structural damage on your deck, you can extend its life by replacing the deteriorated wooden boards with more resilient composite decking materials. Use capped polymer or capped wood composite decking boards because these products will lower the need for maintenance and ensure your composite decking lasts decades longer even when it’s exposed to the elements.
It’s also possible to revamp your entire deck with composite decking if you prefer this option. Before your re-plank your whole deck, first check if your substructure is free of rot and strong enough to support the new composite decking boards. Usually, existing wooden substructures, such as the joists, beams and posts, can support composite decking boards if they were able to carry a wooden deck. If your wooden deck was built on a steel substructure, it’s a guarantee that it can easily support the weight of composite decking boards.