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Retired deck builder
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know the old style CCA treated lumber was sold as "lifetime" lumber, guaranteed not to rot or get eaten by bugs for 30-40 years.

I know I have re-surfaced decks that were 10-15 years old if the framing looked good. At what point in time does a deck frame become not usable for resurfacing?

The reason I ask is I have a longtime customer that has a deck that is 25 years old & he wants it resurfaced with new cedar decking. At first he wanted a price on demo & a new composite deck, but after hearing the 80-90K pricetag that would go along with it he changed directions. I've all ready told him I think it's time for the whole deck to go, but I understand where he's coming from. At 70 years old he doesn't want to spend all that money & just wants something to last out the rest of his years. I still don't think it's a good idea to resurface a deck that old, but I know he's deadset on doing it anyway. I need some hard evidence to show him it's a bad idea, something besides my opinion to change his mind.
 

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I reskined a 20 + yr old PT frame last summer. Was in very good shape. Poked around the columns, joists, etc. Had to address some ledger issues. Added cross bracing. Previous decking was 2x6 PT installed straight. Went back with 5/4 PT installed at an angle.

You have to give the customer what they want. I stopped trying to talk people into this and that as it wore me out and lost too many jobs. These days the less I say the busier I am.

This old man doesn't want a lot of blah...blah...how great you (we) are.....he just wants his deck replaced as cheaply as possible.

I share your concern about liability and being able to sleep at night. But having a few $k in the pocket for the trouble, rather than not is something I'm getting better at.

Somebody's going to do this job.....?
 

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John Hyatt
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3,658 Posts
I know the cca .40 lumber can last a long time in the ground. How long Im not real sure but I have worked on old cca structures 20 years old that look the same as cca did right out of the yard the stickers are even still there. Even the top of the joists where the decking had been looked good.

One thing...the joists/framing has dryed out so fastening to it is not near as easy as when its green. On a big reskin with ipe we found a 1/8'' predrill into the frame was nessecary or the screws would spin out.

Check out all the normal,foundation,joist conection,any bows in the span things like that. Fix them and I say go for it Al. J.
 

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Deck & Porch Builder
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Deckman,

I always look carefully at any existing deck regardless of age. I think its possible that we are technically/ legally giving it the Stamp of Aproval as a contractor and even though we didn't build it I'm not sure how a judge would look at it if the customer took the "Big Ride".

That said I've seen framing 15 years old that I have used that looked good. I've seen some under a porch that looked almost new as it was protected.

In the past treatments were not necessarily all done properly as alot was done by smaller operations and no one knows exactly how the mix was done etc

Part of my decision will be based on the size of joist and if they were spanned to the max and if they were notched at the ledger.

For example if 2x10s or 2x12s were used even if they had weathered to an extent but were well within span I'd be more comfortable.

If I do use it we re-nail every end and add hangers and hardware and bridgeing if its not there.
We resupport any structure that we're working on.

You can't always verify the condition of whats behind the attachment in some cases such as rot etc.

There's been several jobs that I've had to pass on because another contractor told the customer what they wanted to hear which was that it's fine and they'd build on it.

Sorry for the long answer but I guess I'd have to say it varies and is a judgement call. It's just not worth the irsk though if there's any question.

When you think about it it's like would you want to invest in expensive decking and railing on materail and hardware thats been laying in the back yard for 15-20 years.

For me if something been out there for 20 years its served its purpose.

I don't believe I'd build on one 25 years old.
 

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Last year I resurfaced a large deck that we had built 22 years earlier (same owner; she must have been 75 by now but didn't look a day older than when I built it: still a fox!).
The pressure treated framing was in virtually perfect shape. We had to level it and for a little extra strength I put in some bridging, but it was good to go.

It was, however, quite interesting to see the differences in how I design decks, incuding shape and structure with 22 years more experience. Today my designs are maybe less imanginative, but much better built.
 

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Sean
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I would have to say there is no golden rule - I have seen decks fall apart in 3 years (builder error) 7 to 10 years old and rotted out (wet shady side of a house with no maintenance) and some still standing and looking almost as good as the day they were built over 25 years ago. For my .02, as long as the wood is still structurally stable, adequate footings, safe, etc... simply add some blocking, flashing & anchors to bring it up to code / your standards and re-skin it.
 

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I would say peel off what's there and inspect what's underneath. Shore up anything that needs it and put the new skin on. If you are concerned about any liability issues, have him sign something saying you are not liable for any previous work you did not perform.
 

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Number cruncher
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....At 70 years old he doesn't want to spend all that money & just wants something to last out the rest of his years. I still don't think it's a good idea to resurface a deck that old....
I agree that it is tough to do a half-a$$ job, but it is a job he wants. Another poster touched on the existing joists being rock-wood and the need to pre-drill holes (for screws). I had a small demo of a 2yr old deck where the nails refused to come out...the wood was rock. I even broke off the head of my hammer trying to nail in a couple of hanger nails. Then I went through a few sawzall blades cutting off the nail heads. I'd factor in the cost of screwing around demo'ing and prepping the old deck for the new deck boards.
 

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Finish Carpenter
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...When I worked for a guy we went to his father-in-laws house where he had built a deck 20 years ago out of Doug Fir....It lasted 20 years, but at that time I remember walking around on it and my foot fell through in a couple spots... We tore it down and rebuilt with PT.
 
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