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How to Remodel a Deck

Start with your old, tired deck. Add one, or all five, of these easy-to-build projects. Then enjoy your great-looking outdoor retreat!

Written by David Stone
How to Remodel a Deck


One of the great things about this deck project is that we didn’t have to start from scratch to build it. We used the existing framework and tore off the old deck boards, posts, and railings.
 
We’ll provide an overview of how we handled our own deck makeover on the next few pages. You can find all the details online at WorkbenchSpecials.com.
 
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After tearing off the old decking, the first order of business was installing the posts. The new posts are mounted inside the deck’s rim joist, and then the decking gets wrapped around them.
 
The posts are made from cedar 4x4s that get cut to length. You’ll notice that there are three sizes of posts: railing posts that make up most of the deck, stairway posts that will hold up the stair stringers, and pergola posts that will support the pergola structure. After cutting the posts to length, cut dadoes on each post. Later on, these dadoes accept the 2x4 rails to lock all the parts of the deck together.
 
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To make sure that they are mounted securely, the posts get installed between the rim joists on the outside and a “saddle” on the inside. The saddle is just a short piece of 2x8 with a large dado that the post fits into. Then the posts get secured with long bolts, washers, and nuts.
 
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The two posts that sit against the wall of the house are attached a bit differently. They get secured to the wall with toggle bolts.
 

Lay Down the Decking

With the posts in place, the cedar deck boards can go down next. To frame the deck and give it a nice finished look, start with a “deck band.” This is essentially a frame of cedar deck boards that goes around the entire deck. The boards are mitered where they meet at the corners and notched to fit around the posts.

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After the band gets installed, you can lay down the deck boards next. This is as simple as working your way across the deck, spacing out and installing boards as you go. Where the boards butt end to end, cut them to meet over a joist.
 
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You’ll notice from the photos that we used hidden fasteners to secure our deck boards. That way, all you’ll notice is the beautiful decking and not the visible screw heads.
 
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See also Deck Maintenance Tips

Run out the Railings

Next you’ll install the railings, which provide both safety and a distinctive look. That was created by the powder-coated aluminum balusters that make up the railings.
 
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The entire railing assembly is made up of three basic parts: 2x4 rails that get secured in the dadoes between the posts, “keeper strips” with holes drilled in them to accept the balusters, and the balusters themselves. To make the railing assembly, you install the rails first with pocket screws. Then sandwich the balusters between the keeper strips, and slip the whole assembly into place between the rails. Finally, screw it in place.
 
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On the end of the deck with the pergola, you’ll notice that a shorter railing assembly is installed between the pergola posts near the top. These railing assemblies are built and installed identically to the main railing assemblies. The only difference is that the balusters are shorter.