Replacing a Rotten Section of Deck

A few weeks ago we tore down our dilapidating mudroom and were left with a mud-room shaped section of rotten flooring in the deck. Plus that section of the deck was an inch higher than the rest, so in order to fix the flooring, the underlying joists had to be replaced in the proper position. After the usual advice from my expert friend Kurt, who’s always happy to appear as my Free Handyman I Take Advantage Of and Try to Help in Return Even Though I Still Generally Feel Guilty for Calling the Guy So Often for Assistance, I decided to attempt the repair solo.

After buying the pressure-treated two-by-eights for the joists and one-by-sixes for the floorboards and driving the lumber home in a rented Home Depot truck that smelled of urine, I stacked it all in the yard and tore up the bad existing boards. Underneath I found a sizable groundhog hole, now abandoned, which was probably the home of the groundhog that’s harried my pumpkin patch in previous years. I also found a couple of peanut butter jars, too new to predate the deck, that were likely dragged there by the groundhog so he could make sandwiches when he wasn’t eating pumpkin.

Also found were a number of cruddy old balls of various colors and sizes, broken glass, rusty bottle caps, and a small drinking glass. You can picture the previous owners having a wild drunken catch as they were building that section of the deck many years ago. Or maybe it was all the fun-loving groundhog.

The next step was cutting and laying the four-side border of the new section of deck. It had to be perfectly level with the surrounding good part of the deck, so the original plan was to build a nice level structure elsewhere in the yard, carry it over, and nail it into place. That way I wouldn’t have to level things up on the fly, but long two-by-sixes are so heavy, especially when you’ve nailed a bunch of them together, that I’d have needed a few additional people to help me move and attach the structure and so I decided to wing it and attach the boards one at a time, keeping everything in line with a level and crossed fingers.

Which worked eerily well. Next I cut the individual joists and nailed them in using a borrowed construction-size nail gun (I have an air compressor of my own but only guns for little trim nails) and proceeded to the floorboards.

I had to replace a few random boards around the deck due to cracks or warps, and I needed to remove some additional boards and reposition them so they were better staggered, for stability and appearance, when I added the new boards. I cut them each to size and nailed them down. There was only one that ended up being a quarter-inch too wide for its allotted place, so I took it downstairs and shaved an edge on my table saw. Sometimes the boards were so tightly fit that I needed to jump on them to cram them into place, but by and large it was all surprisingly easy. I finished it up and here it is:


The next step is to add a piece of trim to cover that spot beneath the door where the now-lower section of deck has left some of the wall exposed. Then I need to lightly sand the entire deck and paint it. I also need to install a storm door and figure out an awning solution, but after that it’s done.

P.S. I continue to see the¬†occasional¬†carpenter ants, left homeless after the mudroom’s destruction, scurrying about in the hope that some part of the deck isn’t solid new pressure-treated lumber. I taunt them.

2 thoughts on “Replacing a Rotten Section of Deck

  1. Replacing parts of your decks can be really tough. It’s great that you were able to do so without too much trouble! I have often had problems with my concrete decks, and I really want to tear it up and get a wood one, but it is a major undertaking!

    1. Thanks for the compliment, enderberett. I must say that I was lucky. Most of the underlying deck was solid, so I had only to replace the joists and floorboards of that one section. A whole deck would be a much more comi-tragical job around here.

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