I have a 20 year old, 1000 sq. ft. redwood deck, on a sloped lot (2 to
20 feet off the ground) in the coastal Northern California (Santa
Cruz) area. The deck was built using untreated 2x10 joists (probably
redwood or douglas fir) without flashing or other sealant and then
nailing on 2x6 redwood deck boards. In addition to "top nailing" the
boards, the builder occasionally added angled "side nails" making it
difficult to selectively remove rotting planks. The previous owners
painted the deck (or possibly used a solid color stain), probably to
combat the dark red sap stains from several overhanging redwood
trees. The support structure, majority of the deck boards, and most
of the joists (a few with beetle infestation or top rot) are still in
decent to serviceable condition.
The deck boards were very thinly gapped, which I have tried to widen
with a hand saw and/or putty knife. Even when clear of debris, many of
the gaps are barely 1/16" - sufficient to let water through but not
enough to permit proper air circulation. I have attempted to widen
some of the gaps with a circular saw, but this a difficult task. Some
of the joists, particularly where two deck boards meet, are showing
signs of rot down 1-2 inches. I have reinforced some of the joists
with pressure treated sisters (or soldiers as some call them). The
biggest drainage and subsequent rot issues are at the outside edges of
the deck where the 2x12 caps coupled with 2x10 joists prevent
I see several options from here: 1) do nothing except surface cleaning
and restain/paint; 2) continue to widen the gaps with the circular
saw, seal/stain/treat the fresh cut sides, complete surface treatment
as above; 3) remove all deck boards, repair/replace rotting joists,
apply flashing (or other sealant) to joists, reattach deck boards with
wider spacing, and complete surface treatment; 4) scrap the whole
thing and rebuild (with Trex or equivalent). My objective is safely
extract the maximum usable life out of the existing deck. Someday it
will need to be replaced, but, at a cost of over $30/sq.ft., I'd like
to postpone that day.
For the surface treatment, I'd really like to remove the old paint and
apply a good solid color stain. However, several deck people have
cautioned against the effort to fully remove the old paint/stain.
I welcome any suggestions.
In a partly similar case (cedar, not redwood, Canada,
not Calif.) my painter friend turned out to be a trained
deck constructor, recommended #3, completed this
about three years ago (max. two days' work) and I
am very happy with the results.
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