Changing decking on an present deck can get monetary savings | Columnists

F. Our home is approximately 35 years old and the original deck has 5/4 treated planks. We’ve taken care of it and pressure washed and resealed it several times over the years. It’s looking worn again and I would love to replace it with a composite deck. The substructure looks and feels good. Is it possible to remove the old decking and install new decking on top of the existing decking joists? – Dave in Angola

A. Yes, it is possible to just replace the pad on an existing pad and it would save you thousands of dollars in the cost of a full replacement.

I recommend doing a thorough check of your existing substructure first to make sure you know what needs to be repaired or reworked. Often the existing handrail railing has to be removed, but sometimes only the spindles have to be removed.

Check all hangers and screwed components of the substructure before you remove the old decking.

Now that the decking is removed, you can really see what needs fixing and what needs updating.

I recommend 16 “center-to-center spacing for the floor joists. If you plan to install composite floorboards on a diagonal or sloping slope, the spacing must be 12”.

If you are planning a picture frame or wraparound deck, or planning a split deck so that there are no exposed decking ends or butt joints, these areas will need additional joists.

Make sure no joists need to be jacked up, trimmed, or adjusted and that the structure is ready for another 40 years.

Be sure to cover the old joists with joist tape and cover the old nail holes and protect the joists. You can now lay new composite planks and install new handrails.

Jeff Deahl is a past president of the Builders Association of Northeast Indiana. Questions for the Square Corners column can be submitted to