Tips on Removing and Replacing Your Wood Deck


Older homes often have mature trees and attractive landscaping, creating an oasis in your backyard. This spot is ideal for a wood deck, and many homeowners consider removing an existing deck to make room for a modern outdoor living space. Transforming an aged, possibly rotting structure into a contemporary wood deck presents several challenges. With the right game plan and a generous helping of common sense you can navigate this project smoothly and affordably.

Tip 1 - Compare the Existing Size to Your Dream Space

Think about the size of the existing deck. Is this area large enough for your family's lifestyle? Can you function well and move comfortably in this space? Does the existing deck have adequate seating and room for storage, the grill and shade structures? If not, you need to consider an expansion.

Expanding on an existing deck is possible, providing that the framing and support remain stable. Installing new wood next to old wood may create an unattractive visual this season, but new treated or cedar wood discolors to the same shade as older wood after about one season.

Your existing deck may also be too large, and shrinking the deck surface or incorporating other features into the structure could add function and value to the backyard.

Do you use every part of the deck? Are the stairs a comfortable width or overly wide? Does the railing block your view from a seated position? Many of these unfortunate deck design elements can be corrected with a deck renovation or by removing and replacing your wood deck.

Tip 2 - Have a Professional Assess the Condition

Wise homeowners call on a professional decking contractor to assess the condition of their existing deck. A trained eye catches much more than the average person, and contractors know which elements to inspect.

Footings or piers need to remain stable, without heaving or crumbling concrete. Do not plan to build a new deck on unstable or inadequate piers. In some cases, building codes and requirements have changed over the years and new piers must be installed to meet existing codes. A professional deck installer knows the requirements and will ensure your property meets and exceeds every one.

Reusing materials on a deck is rare. Even treated wood rots within twenty years, and much faster in certain climates and conditions. Unless your existing deck was built in the last five years or has been strictly maintained over it's lifespan, reusing decking materials is not advisable.

Decking contractors also assess the property in terms of removal. Does your garden or trees encroach on the existing deck? Will the structure need to be cut down in order to move it safely out of the yard? Are the working conditions safe and stable for machinery, or must all demolition be done by hand? An experienced professional understands how the demolition and removal progresses and can visual the process based on circumstances.

Tip 3 - Research Existing Building Code

As mentioned above, building codes change over time. Some homeowners claim a “grandfather clause,” which allows them to add onto an existing structure without following the current codes and standards. Municipal governments and building departments accept this situation less and less, most often enforcing the current standards.

Building codes dictate most of the specifications and processes involved in deck construction. Your existing deck may meet code on certain aspects, and yet require upgrades on others. Be prepared to adjust the entire deck, including:

  • framing - joist and beam size, as well as the fasteners and hardware used in construction
  • piers - quantity, location and specifications such as depth and size
  • railing - height and design
  • stairs - design and structure

Tip 4 - Examine All of the Options and Features

Modern deck designs include many different features adding convenience and comfort to this space. These features provide some of the greatest advantages to replacing an older deck.

Consider how to incorporate lighting, shade structures, heaters, built in seating and storage into your new deck. These features often go hand in hand with modern shapes and styling, such as round corners, low profile designs and tempered glass railings, but they can also be built around a more traditional deck design.

Lighting can transform an older deck, and building a new roof over your existing deck creates a relaxing oasis for many homeowners. If your existing deck is solid and adequately sized, think about whether or not adding a few features allows you to reach your backyard living space goals.

Tip 5 - Consider How the New Deck Affects the Surrounding Landscape

The landscape around your deck often provides the greatest challenge when removing and replacing a wood deck. Take a close look at these three elements:

  • Grading - Poor grading creates interior water problems and degrades your property value. Ask your contractor about how to alter your existing deck design without changing the grade or creating future water issues in the yard or in the house. Adding gravel to the area under your deck may assist in drainage, while some extreme cases of poor grading require excavation work.
  • Gardens - Moving plants to accommodate a larger deck is not always possible. You may need to sacrifice some of your perennials, shrubs and trees during construction. Some homeowners prefer to schedule deck renovations for the early spring or late fall, in order to minimize damage in the garden.
  • Grass - Deck expansions often require sod cutting, while projects that create a smaller deck require seeding. Think about how your deck renovation changes the amount of grass and consider how the deck structure affects sun exposure. You may also consider how the deck installation schedule influences this element.

Removing and replacing a wood deck provides you with plenty of opportunities to enhance your outdoor living space. Talk to an experienced contractor and consider the size, conditions of your property and current building code requirements. Your landscaping will be affected by this project as well. Upgrade the features on your deck and enjoy a modern design within your home.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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