Azek Decknology Blog

When to Replace Decking Boards

Despite the fact that pressure treated wood is supposed to be insect and water resistant, the truth is, over time, pressure treated wood will become increasingly prone to damage caused by these and other problems. In fact, if you own a wood deck, you need to inspect it annually so you can identify any potential damage and make the necessary repairs before it worsens.    

In most cases, a deck’s wood boards tend to be the first to go because this part of the deck is subjected to the most wear and tear and is constantly exposed to the elements. As a result, a wood deck will need to have its decking boards replaced at some point.

If you’re unsure about when your deck warrants a repair, this guide will help you determine when the right time is to replace your decking boards.

Deck Damage: What to Look For

According to the North American Deck & Railing Association, there are more than 40 million decks in the United States that are at least 20 years old. The older your deck is, the more likely it will account for one of the hundreds of deck accidents reported every year. In order to help prevent your deck from becoming a statistic, you should inspect it annually and make the necessary repairs before they turn into major problems.

At the start of spring it’s best to take an awl or screwdriver and probe your deck posts where they contact the ground to make sure the wood is still hard and resilient. If you discover soft wood, then the post is likely rotting. If the rot is small enough in size you can apply a wood preservative to stop the rot from advancing. Other areas to inspect include the railing system, the ledger, and the joists and beams.

The same inspection technique applies to your deck boards. If you have deck boards that are soft or starting to warp or curl as a result of water damage or rot, then these are signs that the board is no longer structurally sound.

In other cases, wood deck boards can dry, splinter, and crack without regular extensive maintenance. In such cases, replacing them with new boards is recommended.

Replace Wood Boards With Capped Polymer or Capped Wood Composite Decking

As long as your deck has no structural damage, you can significantly extend its life by replacing the current wood decking boards with more resilient products like capped polymer decking boards from AZEK, or capped wood composite decking boards from TimberTech. 

Making the change from wood to capped polymer or capped wood composite makes sense because as long as you have wood boards on your deck, you will constantly have to be on the lookout for rot, water damage, and other issues that can compromise the safety of the deck. Capped polymer and capped wood composite decking boards are rot-resistant and capable of standing up to most everything Mother Nature can throw at them.

This not only greatly reduces your maintenance requirements, but it also provides you with a deck that will last as long as the structure that’s holding it up.

Non-Damage Related Reasons to Replace Your Decking Boards

Not every reason for replacing your decking boards can be attributed to damaged boards. For instance, if you are altering your deck to accommodate a swimming pool addition or you are extending your deck in one direction or another, then this is the perfect time to replace the old weathered boards on your deck with next generation decking products like capped polymer or capped wood composite. You will improve the overall quality of your deck, and provide the structure with a more beautiful and uniform look.

Or, if your deck is one of the ones that happens to be more than 20 years old, then another reason to replace your deck boards may be related to certain structural or design changes required by your local zoning board. An example of this would be if you are trying to sell or renovate your house, and your deck is found to not be in compliance with the current building codes. In such a case, you will have to make changes to bring the deck up to code. This makes for the perfect time to update its surface with more stable and reliable materials. As a side benefit, changing your deck from wood to capped polymer or capped wood composite will also add additional market value to your home, so you can consider it a sound investment.