Damaged sections of a deck need to be removed to avoid further damage.

How to Remove Old Deck Boards

by Tim Anderson

In a perfect world, any deck you build or add to the home will last generations and never need repair. But the reality is that wood and other natural materials eventually break down and need to be replaced. While you can seal the wood to protect it from the elements and extend its life, sometimes old deck boards will rot or weaken to the point they no longer serve as stable walking platforms. Thankfully, removing an old deck board to replace it is a fairly straightforward task, which means you can get your deck back to looking like new in no time.

1 Wait for a dry, cool day, if possible. Wood shrinks when it is cold and dry, making the joints between boards larger and easier to fit a pry bar between for leverage.

2 Check the deck board to determine if it is screwed on, nailed or mounted from underneath with some type of a bracket as is the case with many composite deck planks.

3 Inspect the area surrounding the board to find the largest, widest joint between the board and another piece for nailed-on boards. Fold the towel and place it on top of the board adjacent to the piece you want to remove to avoid damaging the other board. Insert the pry bar into the crack near a nail and apply downward pressure on top of the towel. Move the towel and board from joist to joist to pry the board and its nails out of the joists.

4 Remove the top-mount screws with a drill and screw tips if the deck boards are mounted with screws. Repeat the towel and pry bar sequence to leverage the board out of its position. Save the screws if their heads are still good. Alternatively, throw them away if they are stripped.

5 Release any brackets or fasteners from beneath the deck for composite boards not drilled from the top side. Use the drill, socket set or wrenches to loosen the fasteners, depending on the mounting system used by your deck.

Items you will need

  • Hammer
  • Pry bar
  • Old towel
  • Drill with screw bits
  • Wrenches or socket set

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