DIY Project: Upgrades We Made for a Better Deck

DIY Project: Upgrades We Made for a Better Deck

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Brian and I decided that 2023 was going to be the year that we rebuilt our deck. We were so committed to it that we included it in our 52 Experiences list last year. I’m happy to share that we are nearly finished with our deck skirting, one of the last to-dos of our deck project! Our goal was to build a better deck, and we made it happen.

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Deck Woes

Since we moved into our house, we’ve only really used the deck for a few firepit get-togethers. It sat bare for years as I toyed with the idea of pressure-washing and repainting it rather than replacing it. Truly, I was a bit overwhelmed at the thought of taking on such a big project. At 500 sq. ft., the deck was going to be the largest project we’ve taken on. In addition to deck boards, we would be replacing the joists, railings, and deck skirting.

Brian and I made the decision to tackle the deck in 2023 after we discovered that some of our boards were rotten all the way through. Ruh-oh. Not only was the deck somewhat unsightly, but it had also become unsafe. Moreover, I’m simply not crazy about owning space that I am not making use of.

It was time to dismantle it!

Rotten Wood and Rusty Nails

Rusty nails, along with stripped and buried screws, turned demo day into several days. From what we heard, I don’t think we irritated our neighbors too much. If that’s true, I gotta tell ya—I’m pretty surprised because we were making all kinds of noise trying to tear off our deck boards.

Some were rotten enough that they essentially disintegrated with a gentle pull. Others were stubbornly affixed to the joists with broken fasteners. After we finally cleared away the boards, we tackled removing the joists. These were in worse condition than we thought! We had already decided to replace all of them, and seeing them unobstructed reaffirmed our decision, especially since a few of them broke into pieces as we removed them.

Rebuilding a Better Deck

A better deck is a stronger deck. Brian and I wanted to build something that would last a seriously long time. Our intention was to maintain the original footprint. After dismantling the deck, we decided to replace an entire side of the fascia as well as another section along the back. The rest of the structure remained as it was, ready for its next life.


Primed and ready for a change, Brian and I made some upgrades during our project. We put frugality into practice and paid a high price upfront for greater value in the future.

Here are five upgrades we made for a better deck:

1. New joists with joist tape

Even though it took us over two hours to sift through the pressure-treated wood at Lowe’s, we successfully scored some nice-looking lumber. Fresh, solid joists help create a strong structure, which is crucial to building a long-lasting deck. We topped off the joists and fascia with joist tape for added protection against moisture and other elements.

2. Screws instead of nails

We did not use a single nail in our rebuild. Screws provide a stronger connection and are easily removable if needed for changes or repairs.

3. Natural weatherproof decking

Brian and I love our cumaru decking! It’s rot-resistant, insect-resistant, requires little maintenance, and looks gorgeous. Not to mention, it lasts more than 50 years!

4. Aluminum railing

Aluminum railings are typically given a protective coating that provides waterproof protection. Our previous railings were made from pressure-treated wood, which required regular maintenance. We opted for an aluminum railing for its resiliency and maintenance-free convenience.

5. Heavy-gauge plastic skirting

Brian has an intense aversion to lattice 😆. I don’t mind it so much, but the lattice skirting we had on our deck had seen better days. We decided it was time to update it, so we selected something that required no maintenance. It’s pricey, but it’s going to last forever, is extremely durable, and looks great.

DIY with Intention

We’re almost at the finish line. Our project has been challenging. We didn’t know much about building a deck before, so this experience has been an eye-opener. It has given us the opportunity to rebuild for the better in our own way.

It’s been a fulfilling process, from gaining knowledge and hands-on practice to strategizing a budget and executing intentional upgrades. Our goal was to build something long-lasting and durable, and Brian and I are confident that we did.

Stay tuned for the upcoming reveal post to see our new and improved deck!

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