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Replacing Decking and Railing

This DIY Basic will provide tips on replacing decking and railing.

More in Outdoors

Step 1: Watch an Overview Video

Step 2: Gather Your Materials and Tools

Materials and Tools:

measuring tape
pencil
carpenter’s square
sawhorses
hammer
3-inch minimum galvanized nails
power drill with wood bits
screw gun
2 1/2-inch minimum deck screws
fasteners
railing support brackets
pry bar
reciprocating saw with metal and wood cutting blades
3-foot carpenter’s level
gapping tool
safety glasses
gloves
dust mask
long sleeved shirt
baby powder or dust-off marking chalk

Step 3: Remove the Old Pieces and Make Repairs

Start by removing old railing and decking.

Replace damaged joists.

Tip: Paint tops of joists black so they can’t be seen through new decking or cover them with ice/water barrier tape.

Lay a 4x8 sheet of 1/2- or 3/4-inch plywood across joists to use as a kneeling/working surface until you install enough boards to work from.

Step 4: Install the New Boards

Use first row as guide for following rows. Boards should be gapped side-to-side a minimum of 1/4 inch to allow for drainage and expansion.

Tip: Composite decking installed when temperature is below 40 degrees F must have a 3/8-inch gap.

To maximize holding power, run screws flush with decking surface.

Step 5: Install the Posts

Mark a line on ends parallel to last joist and trim overhang. Leave overhang of 1/2 inch to hide out-of-square substructure.

Tip: Colored chalk lines can stain composite decking; use baby powder or dust-off marking chalk instead.

Check local building code for maximum height from top of deck to top of rail.

Install posts to rim joists with two 1/2-inch carriage bolts. Space bolts no less than 5 1/8 inch apart.

Top bolt should be at least 1 inch from top of joist; bottom bolt at least 1 inch from bottom of post.

Slide post sleeves over posts; slide post skirts over posts, resting them on deck surface.

Step 6: Install the Support Brackets

Using tool provided with post sleeve, set railing support brackets.

Attach support blocks to bottom rail before fastening to post.

Fasten bottom rail to post.

Step 7: Install the Balusters

Fasten bottom rail to post.

Measure and cut both baluster spacers to fit.

Snap bottom baluster spacer into bottom rail.

Place inverted top baluster spacer on top of bottom baluster spacer. Slide baluster through both spacers.

Fit balusters into channel of top rail.

Step 8: Install the Top Rail

Fasten top rail to posts.

Slide up top baluster spacer and snap into place. Align posts with shims, if necessary.

Secure cap to post with PVC cement.

Repeat for remaining rail sections.

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