Many customers have come to us initially hoping that their existing pressure treated wood deck can be remodeled by removing the deck boards and railings and putting new composite decking and railings on (commonly called a redeck or a deck reskin). It's a good question and sometimes can be a cost effective approach to remodeling a deck.
Usually, there is no doubt that the existing decking and railings are in bad shape and absolutely have to go. Deck boards are split. Railings are twisted. The stair treads are loose. Homeowners will usually tell us that "the existing structure is fine" right up front trying to be helpful, which we appreciate but have learned is usually not the case when a trained set of eyes examines it.
Most "builder" decks that were built at the time the house was built are rarely good candidates for a redeck. The main reason we see is that they just are not built well to begin with. They don't meet current building codes and can border on being unsafe. Builders generally use the cheapest labor and the cheapest materials and methods when building decks because they know no one ever buys a shiny new house for the deck. It's a means to an end on the other side of the kitchen door to get the property sold. That's the reality of it. Sometimes we do see a builder deck that someone put some TLC into, but it's very rare.
Composite decking and railing products are not inexpensive, but their value comes in the performance and looks they provide. Installing all this beautiful new product over a bad skeleton doesn't make financial sense when you consider that the existing deck framing is most likely sagged, warped and uneven. Those flaws with telegraph though new decking and railing usually.
Some of the things we look for in considering re-decking a deck are joist size, beam spacing, footing capacity, bolting patterns, house attachment, and soundness of construction. Sometimes we can make a few modifications and enhancements to what's on the house and take it from there.
Another thing to consider is that usually, builder decks are simple rectangles with a staircase that runs out in front of the deck blocking the view from the patio below. By rebuilding, you'll end up with a modern, efficient deck design with carefully thought out design features and a staircase in a place that makes sense relative to how you use your yard. At Peachtree Decks and Porches we strive to design your deck with your lifestyle in mind so that traffic flows well from your house, across the deck, and down into your backyard.
It is better for the long term value of your home to start from scratch with an entirely new deck. You won't be limited by the plain design of the existing deck and you will have a much better quality frame for the deck that is code compliant and safe. That being said, in certain circumstances a redeck is a better option. We'll be happy to guide you through that decision process.