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rfuerst911sc's Avatar
 
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another DIY project to tackle - exterior deck

A little over a year ago we purchased our retirement home and have been slowly doing some upgrades . I am now pretty close to tackling the back deck which it appears the original owners stained once and that was it . So the situation is some/most of the deck boards ( 5/4 x 6 ) are badly checked/cracked and some are lifting at the ends as they were nailed down vs. screwed down . Basically this is two decks one on each end of the house joined by a walkway making it one large deck .

Structurally the joists are solid and 16 " on center . The ballusters for the most part are solid and can be saved . The hand rail posts are solid but the handrail top surface is crapple and needs to be replaced . Looking from under the deck the builder/installer used metal flashing along the house where the deck meets the house . So that is the baseline I am working with .

I have found a guy on CL about 2 hours away selling some composite deck boards , he is a scrapper/wholesaler that deals in closeouts and over buys . He doesn't normally sell this type of decking but apparently came across a decent amount of brown and grey in 16 ' lengths only . He is selling it for .88 a foot which is very reasonable . From the pics in his ad it looks like the same decking I had at our previous house which seemed to be decent stuff . This is not the type designed for hidden fasteners so pre drilled countersunk holes would be the install method . I " think " it is TREX brand but really not sure .

The two main portions of the deck are 18 ' 3 " long so each board will have a seam . I'm thinking of making each seam with an angled cut vs. butting them square any issues doing that ? So when installing with two screws at the seams they would go through both pieces and stay flush . I would offset the seams end for end on every other board . Every screw hole will be pre drilled and countersunk to hopefully eliminate splitting . For spacing of the boards is a # 10 common nail a good spacer ?

Have I missed anything ? Any other suggestions ? I could replace with pressure treated wood again but I am not looking forward to staining and restaining every 5 years as I get older Here are pics of the current mess .



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Old 10-11-2018, 04:29 AM
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I'll defer to Higgins on deck maintenance . The deck appears to be in great shape and should last....a LONG time. Like you, I do my own work, but I'd pay some smuck to stain it every few years instead...I'm lazy .
Old 10-11-2018, 04:38 AM
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KC I haven't ruled out just replacing the worst of the boards to keep the price down but knowing the boards are nailed vs. screwed would drive me nuts My dad ( RIP ) drilled into me at an early age " do it right or not at all " so I have been conditioned to do so . And having some schmuck do the staining sounds good but then I would not be happy with the job or too much got on the siding or it's thin here or there ............ again would drive me nuts ! Yes I am VERY flawed
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Old 10-11-2018, 04:58 AM
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I sent the seller a text asking to verify the actual dimensions of the boards . He replied they are 5.3 " x .90 " does anyone think there will be issues with the .90 thickness spanning the 16 " OC joists ? I'm sure a little flex is to be expected and normal but just want to make sure before I purchase . I may have to scab in on a few joists to make sure of a good surface for the seams but I don't want to do every one !

At our previous house the joists were 16 " OC and the deck seemed fine with minimal flex when walking on it .
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Old 10-11-2018, 05:06 AM
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Seems like you are working much harder now that you are retired!
If it were me, I'd replace the bad wood and screw it down.
Then replace nails with screws as the nail heads started prairie dogging.
Staining is easy. Couple of beers and it's done.
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Old 10-11-2018, 05:18 AM
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BK you are right I'm busier now that I'm retired ! But for the most part it's work I want to do . I hear you on replacing the bad boards it is a good option . But on the flip side I can spend about 1400.00 for the composite boards and be done for my lifetime and beyond . I am an individual that hates to paint or stain I would rather poke myself in the eye with a red hot rusty nail But I agree with you it is a no brainer task .
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Old 10-11-2018, 05:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rfuerst911sc View Post
KC I haven't ruled out just replacing the worst of the boards to keep the price down but knowing the boards are nailed vs. screwed would drive me nuts ...... Yes I am VERY flawed
I've only lost a few dozen nights sleep over my 28 yr old deck....that someone did NOT build (right), using screws...so you seem OK to me . I have replaced a few boards and every stinkin' nail that's reared it's head though....screw 'em !
Old 10-11-2018, 05:44 AM
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That deck looks pretty good, if it were me I would replace any rotten boards, screw them all down, then pressure wash and re-stain.

I have composite decking, it's all 16" OC and isn't spongy or sagging. I would not do a scarf joint where the panels join, assuming this is the hollow decking you'll lose all of the vertical strength of the composite "board". When you cut the composite stuff at an angle the sharp edges really tend to chip and bend, I think over time the join wouldn't look very good. You'll also loose most of the material to screw through. I would butt the seams like a normal deck, worst case you might have to add another 2x nailer underneath.
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Old 10-11-2018, 05:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onewhippedpuppy View Post
That deck looks pretty good, if it were me I would replace any rotten boards, screw them all down, then pressure wash and re-stain.

I have composite decking, it's all 16" OC and isn't spongy or sagging. I would not do a scarf joint where the panels join, assuming this is the hollow decking you'll lose all of the vertical strength of the composite "board". When you cut the composite stuff at an angle the sharp edges really tend to chip and bend, I think over time the join wouldn't look very good. You'll also loose most of the material to screw through. I would butt the seams like a normal deck, worst case you might have to add another 2x nailer underneath.
Some good feedback here thanks . The composite I'm looking at is not hollow it is solid and .90 thick would that change your opinion regarding the way to do the joints ? I have probably over stated the condition of the current deck boards , maybe I should pressure wash and see what it all looks like then make a decision . Obviously it would be much cheaper to just replace 15 - 20 boards vs. the entire surface . I'm assuming stain is preferred vs. paint as a finish ? Back in the 80's a semi transparent stain was the way to go on horizontal surfaces vs. a solid stain is that still the norm ? And what is considered the best or go to screws for decking ? And what length for 5/4 would you go 2 " or 2 1/2 " long ?
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Old 10-11-2018, 06:22 AM
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Do some more research on composite lumber options if you are considering that. Some of the brands get VERY hot in exposed sun.
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Old 10-11-2018, 06:50 AM
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I've always used "Deckmate" screws...have boxes of all sizes in the garage...I think I use 2" on the decking. I like a transparent, cedar tint stain, had used Thompsons, Olympia, etc. for years, then was "told" that Cabots was superior...but learned the hard way that I don't like it on a north facing deck...oil based mebbe, but turns greenish next to house. I am also leery of pressure washing...never have...more harm than good imo. I'm no expert though....I planned to work on mine today !

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Old 10-11-2018, 06:55 AM
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I made a deck (redwood) years ago and used it for maybe fifteen years. I tried three for four stain products and finally settled on one that was clearly better than the others. Something else I did was turn the planks over to expose the underside which was in good condition. Since my deck was only 12x12, I also belt sanded the upward facing sides a couple of times. I've mentioned the stain/preservative product I used a couple of times in other deck threads. The product was Total Wood Preservative (TWP). In CA they have to sell the water based version now, but I originally was able to buy the oil based. If you decide to try it, I'd look for a source of the oil based version. It's not cheap, but not exorbitant and one of those situations where you get what you pay for.
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Old 10-11-2018, 08:22 AM
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If the composite decking is solid, then yes you could use a scarf joint. Though I'm still not sure if it would be worth the trouble, and you lose the gap for the boards to expand and contract with temperature. I use the heck out of torx screws, for decking with exposed holes you can buy them with mini heads to minimize the hole size, and in colors to minimize the screw head appearance.

Mark is correct about temperature, my cedar colored composite decking gets very hot in the sun. Fortunately most of my deck is covered, my dog doesn't like to hang out in the sun on the uncovered part.

We just re-stained our railings and posts, which are cedar. I sanded them first, then used a semi-transparent stain that I think is warrantied for 5 years. The more solid the stain the longer it lasts. We had previously used a stain from Menards (don't recall the brand) and it didn't last, this time we used a Behr stain from the Home Depot and were really happy. I've also used Behr paint inside and outside on our house and been very happy with the longevity and coverage.
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Old 10-11-2018, 08:35 AM
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Thanks Marv!
Old 10-11-2018, 08:38 AM
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What brand is the composite decking?

That makes a huge difference.

I have built both, Brazilian redwood and Azek brand composite. Both had advantages and disadvantages...
Old 10-11-2018, 10:37 AM
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I did a similar project recently, personally I much prefer wood. I have a composite porch/entry and its slippery compared to wood. Also, not as simple to repair/replace. I ended up R&Ring 2x6 deck boards and restained with a sherwin williams product thats worked great. You'll be able to get replacement boards anywhere, forever unless you go with an exotic wood. Composite not so much. Vendors change, colors change, especially if you are getting overstock or leftovers. Might not be an issue, might be. Also, dont forget about the Trex lawsuits. The newer stuff is better, right?
Old 10-11-2018, 11:14 AM
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The newer stuff is way better than the old Trex.

If the exotic hardwoods has not gotten so expensive and my deck was not so big, I would have used that again. With that being said, the zero maintenance is nice.
Old 10-11-2018, 12:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rfuerst911sc View Post
I sent the seller a text asking to verify the actual dimensions of the boards . He replied they are 5.3 " x .90 " does anyone think there will be issues with the .90 thickness spanning the 16 " OC joists ? I'm sure a little flex is to be expected and normal but just want to make sure before I purchase . I may have to scab in on a few joists to make sure of a good surface for the seams but I don't want to do every one !

At our previous house the joists were 16 " OC and the deck seemed fine with minimal flex when walking on it .
Everything made today will work on a 16'' span.
Old 10-11-2018, 12:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BSiple View Post
What brand is the composite decking?

That makes a huge difference.

I have built both, Brazilian redwood and Azek brand composite. Both had advantages and disadvantages...
I have no idea what brand it is and neither does the seller , it was a closeout buy for him . So yes it is somewhat of a gamble but is priced accordingly .
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Old 10-12-2018, 03:38 AM
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Yesterday after the rain stopped I took a better look at the deck boards and the pics make it look much better than it really is . I would say at least 50 % of the boards are weather checked/cracked and beyond clean up and screwing down . I think I'm beyond just replacing " the bad boards " because most of them are . I need to check out the local lumber yard that makes their own pressure treated boards to compare 5/4 x 6 PT vs. the composite to make my final decision .
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Old 10-12-2018, 03:46 AM
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