When to Replace Deck Boards: Best Practices

July 20, 2021
HomeOutdoor Living IdeasWhen to Replace Deck Boards: Best Practices

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.

When to replace deck boards with superior decking materials

Minimal Risk of Replacement

Superior decking materials, like TimberTech® composite decking, will last much longer thanks to:

✓ Durable cores made of non-organic material or a mix of organic and non-organic material.

Protective capping that resists moisture and weathering agents.

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.  

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How Long Do Deck Boards Last?

The lifespan of your deck boards depends on their material.

When to replace deck boards from deterioration

Traditional Wood

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.

When to replace deck boards made of composite decking material

Composite Decking

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

When to replace deck boards with damage

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.

Deck inspections allow you to catch problems early, when they can still be repaired, as opposed to letting them worsen to the point where a costly full deck replacement is necessary.

GET THE 411 ON DECK INSPECTIONS
Discover what tools you need and what to look for in your deck inspection, whether you have a wood or composite deck. LEARN MORE

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:

When to replace deck boards damaged by moisture

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)

When to replace deck boards with cracking

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

KEEP IN MIND
Problems visible on the surface of your deck very often mean there are issues with the substructure as well.

When you go to replace the board or boards in question, make sure to thoroughly inspect the visible substructure for signs of a more pervasive problem.

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?

When to replace deck boards versus a full deck replacement

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

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.

When to replace deck boards for non-damage related reasons

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

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Replace Wood Deck Boards With Capped Polymer or Capped Composite Decking

Replace traditional wood with TimberTech composite decking

Whether you’re replacing your wood deck due to structural damage or for purely aesthetic reasons, avoid future deck replacements by choosing TimberTech capped polymer or capped composite decking.

Benefits of replacing your wood deck with TimberTech composite decking include:

TimberTech decking boasts lower risks for replacement

Lower Risk of Repairs

Enjoy your deck worry-free thanks to the premium durability of deck boards designed with advanced materials science.

TimberTech decking requires minimal maintenance

Minimal Maintenance

Keep your weekends free for relaxing rather than laboring, with minimal deck upkeep needs.

TimberTech decking stays beautiful for longer than wood

Enduring Beauty

Spend more time outside with family and friends thanks to a gorgeous, inviting outdoor living space.

Plus, when you choose TimberTech, your decking investment is protected with some of the industry’s best warranties, including a Lifetime Limited Product Warranty for TimberTech AZEK® decking.

When to Replace Deck Boards? Upgrade Now

Upgrade your wood deck to TimberTech decking

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. 

See & Feel the TimberTech Advantage

Our capped polymer and capped composite decking lines combine recycled material with all the beauty of traditional wood.

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