A Deck at 20: Should It Be Fixed or Replaced?

Age Of An Exterior Deck

If you’ve had a deck for two decades (or more), there’s no doubt that it has seen its fair share of family cookouts, long summer nights, and maybe a bottle of wine (or ten). It’s also seen twenty winters and twenty humid Carolina summers. This means, in short, that your deck has been through a lot! By now, you’ve probably done some basic repairs through the years, but you might be wondering if it’s time to replace your deck rather than continually repair it.

There isn’t a single answer to this question. It is dependent upon a variety of factors, including your budget, whether or not you plan to stay in your home long-term, and what exactly is wrong with your current deck. The next few paragraphs will give you additional insight into some of these issues and, hopefully, help you make a decision about what is right for you.

The Obvious vs. The Not-So-Obvious

Some deck issues, like severely rotted boards or seriously shaky railings, are apparent right from the get-go. These are obvious problems that need to be addressed in the very near future in order to keep you and your loved ones safe from harm. In many cases, serious damage that has been left unattended for quite some time requires the whole deck to be replaced, support posts and all. Other problems, however, are not so easy to spot.

Many deck contractors, for example, aren’t on the lookout only for damage. They are searching for features that are simply no longer up to code. Older decks, especially those that were built two or more decades ago, tend to meet very few current municipal building regulations. This is important no matter what but becomes crucial if you plan to list your home in the near future. If, for instance, stairways are too steep or railings are not high enough, they will have to be replaced before you put your house on the market.

The Five Key Issues

There are five primary things deck builders look for when they are inspecting older decks. These criteria can help them, and the homeowners who hired them, decide whether or not the deck should be fixed or replaced. The five crucial areas are the connections from post-to-footing, post-to-band, band-to-house, stair-to-beam, and guardrail-to-deck surface. If any or all of these areas are deteriorating, it means the deck is at risk of collapse at some point in the future. Just how bad the deterioration is will dictate whether or not the issue can be repaired or if it simply makes more sense to replace the entire deck.

The Financial Aspect

In almost all cases, it is cheaper to repair a deck than to altogether replace it. In rare situations, though, when decks are practically un salvageable, it actually saves money to rebuild them from scratch. Furthermore, there are a number of cases in which building a new deck may cost more now, but will reap your family benefits in a variety of ways down the road. If, for example, you want to sell your home at any point, a newer deck is likely to have a higher return-on-investment. Also, you and your loved ones may get more enjoyment out of a brand new outdoor space; sometimes the extra cost is worth it!

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