How to Repair a Deck

Jeffrey Anderson | Improvement Center Columnist | December 13, 2011

Warm temperatures can feel great after a long cold winter and often bring thoughts of outdoor family gatherings and steaks sizzling on the grill, but before you start looking for the charcoal--how did your deck weather this past winter? Snow and ice can be tough on exterior wood so it can be a good idea to give your deck a quick inspection before hosting the first picnic of the season. Fortunately, many common deck repairs are fairly easy and if you have basic DIY skills, your family can be using the deck to get their summer tans in no time at all.

Think safety when doing deck repairs

The last thing anyone wants while enjoying a summer evening in the great outdoors is a sudden and very painful injury. When inspecting your deck look for items such as these:

  1. raised or loose nails and screws
  2. loose floor boards and handrails
  3. splintered or broken boards
  4. warped boards
  5. problems with structural members

Loose or raised nails and screws can usually be handled very quickly with a few taps from a hammer or by using a drill with a screwdriver bit. If you don't seem to hit anything solid, you may have to adjust the fastener's position slightly. Loose floor boards and handrails can often be corrected in the same fashion--a few additional nails or screws can usually work wonders, but make sure you're hitting the framing underneath.

Treated lumber has a tendency to warp and splinter if it has never been sealed. A warped or broken board can be a tripping hazard and the amount of pain involved with getting a large splinter in your bare foot almost goes without saying. These types of repairs should be done as soon as possible, and in most cases the only solution is to replace the boards in question.

When to call deck contractors

Because decks are outdoor structures it's easy to forget their structural integrity is just as important as any other part of your home. A deck that needs structural repairs can collapse when loaded with people and may cause serious injuries or even worse in some cases. If you suspect a problem with your deck's framing or just want the peace of mind knowing it has been checked for defects or damage, deck contractors can give the structure a thorough inspection. Keeping your deck in good shape by taking care of repairs as needed can give you a place to grill those steaks for many summers to come.