Wondering when to replace deck boards is a common concern among traditional wood deck owners. After all, wood deck boards will be subjected to wear and tear from the elements without innovative protection built into the boards. They will inevitably need replacing at some point. Why? Because as an organic material, wood is particularly prone to weathering and moisture damage, like rot — and over time, the elements will take their toll.
But what about composite decks? Well, that’s where low-maintenance living comes in.
If you’re uncertain about when to replace deck boards on your wood deck, we’ll help you figure out what signs to look for so you can take the right action at the right time.
How Long Do Deck Boards Last?
The lifespan of your deck boards depends on their material.
Traditional pressure-treated wood decks typically last between 10 and 15 years — and that’s with regular maintenance.
So, be sure to plan for deck replacement costs in your long-term home improvement budget.
Engineered deck boards, such as TimberTech capped polymer and capped composite decking, come with 25-year, 30-year, and even lifetime limited warranties. That means comparatively less frequent deck replacement.
With their vulnerability to the elements and shorter lifespan, wood decks require constant vigilance for signs of deck damage that could indicate deck repair or replacement.
Deck Damage: What to Look For
The first step to replacing your wood deck boards is being able to recognize what needs replacing, and when. As a best practice, you should be inspecting your wood deck annually — or more frequently if it’s older than 10 years.
Recognizing When to Replace Deck Boards
The most common reason for wood deck board replacement? Moisture damage.
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 splinter and crack without regular extensive maintenance, and replacement is recommended for these boards as well.
Here’s a closer look at issues that may warrant deck board replacement:
Mold, Mildew, & Rot
These weathering agents develop in moist conditions and feed on organic matter like wood, causing serious deterioration over time.
Signs you need to replace your board(s):
- Soft, spongy wood (rot)
- Darkened spots (rot)
- Greenish or black tint (mold and mildew)
Rusted fasteners or screws (mold or rot)
Splitting, Cracking, & Warping
Any board disfiguration or cracking is usually the result of rapid moisture evaporation, which causes the boards to shrink and curl in on themselves.
Signs you need to replace your board(s):
- Severely bent boards
- Excessive splinters
- Cracks that continue to grow
- Nail heads popping up
Knowing When a Full Deck Replacement Is Necessary
When do you know whether a few repairs or a full deck replacement — including both the surface and substructure — is necessary?
Reasons for a Full Deck Replacement
A full deck replacement of both the surface and substructure may be the way to go if:
- There are serious structural issues with the substructure.
- The cost of your repairs is equal to or greater than the cost of full deck replacement.
Common Issues That Often Warrant Full Deck Replacement
- A rotted ledger board (the board that fastens your deck to your house).
- Rotted, loose, or damaged joists and beams.
- Rotted support posts.
- Excessive deck surface damage that requires replacement of more than half of the deck boards.
If you’re unsure about when to replace deck boards or do a full deck replacement, consider working with a professional deck repair contractor who can help you determine the right course of action.
Non-Damage Related Reasons to Replace Your Deck Boards
Even if your substructure or surface isn’t in disrepair, you still may want to replace your existing deck.
Additional Reasons to Replace Your Deck
- You’re planning to extend your deck.
- You’re interested in a different deck shape to better fit your space.
- You want a deck board pattern to add visual interest to your deck surface.
- Your older deck is not built to the latest building codes.
- You want to improve your home’s resale value.
- You’re tired of the maintenance requirements of a wood deck.
- You’re looking to upgrade your deck aesthetics and lessen your workload with a TimberTech composite deck.
Replace Wood Deck Boards With Capped Polymer or Capped Composite Decking
Benefits of replacing your wood deck with TimberTech composite decking include:
Lower Risk of Repairs
Enjoy your deck worry-free thanks to the premium durability of deck boards designed with advanced materials science.
Keep your weekends free for relaxing rather than laboring, with minimal deck upkeep needs.
Spend more time outside with family and friends thanks to a gorgeous, inviting outdoor living space.
When to Replace Deck Boards? Upgrade Now
Now that you know when to replace deck boards, it’s time to start your replacement job to upgrade your wood deck — because we all know it’ll have to happen at some point. And what better time than now?
Upgrade your deck to TimberTech composite decking so you can put deck replacement projects in the past.
To start, explore your deck color options and order up to four free samples of your favorites. Once you receive your samples, be sure to place them on your current deck to get a feel for how they look in different lighting, so you can choose the best one for your space.