Give Your Deck a Face Lift

Dated: 04/14/2012

Views: 5608

Thirty million to 40 million homes in the United States have outdoor decks, and all of them require steady maintenance. Mark Clement, a Philadephia-based pro contractor and host of a weekly radio show, "My Fix It Up Life," said there's a reason decks should receive attention in the spring.

"It’s the only structure that many do-it-yourselfers build -- often without permits -- and they carry the weight of you, your children and guests," he said. "And it’s entirely outside and open to the elements."

Clement advises doing what the pros call a “re-skin” instead of building a new deck.

Uneven drying and exposure to the sun, Clement said, take their tolls on decks. But if the support structure is sound, you may replace only the boards that form the floor -- a project that requires just a weekend.

Clement said the existing deck boards must be removed first.

"The secret that deck-builders use is that you only cut the first couple of (replacement) boards to fit," he said.

The next step is to place the rest of the boards and use galvanized screws to secure them. Snap a chalk line to create a straight edge and use a circular saw to trim them evenly. If you cut the boards first, you will have uneven lengths.

The easiest way to calculate the cost is to get a linear-foot price from a local lumber yard. Clement advises determining the square footage of your existing deck and the width and thickness of the current boards. Take those measurements to the retailer.

"They will help you calculate how much wood you'll need and also budget for fasteners," Clement said.

The cost for hiring a pro for a deck re-skinning -- not including materials -- would be at least $600, he said.

"It’s a super-fun project," he said, "and you can use it right away and enjoy."

Read more: Home Upkeep: Mid-Scale Repair Projects Worth Doing |
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Kim Pileggi

Greetings from Long Beach Island! I am a full time real estate agent specializing in LBI sales and summer rentals, servicing all of LBI and the surrounding mainland communities. I have earned several ....

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