It can be a tough call when you have an old or damaged deck or fence – do you try to repair it (and risk having to replace it anyway) or do you jump straight into replacing it with a brand new one? There are a couple big factors in this decision – the age of the fence or deck, the severity of any damage, and perhaps most importantly, your budget.
Only you know what you can afford when it comes to justifying repairs or replacement; but today we’re going to look at a few reasons why you might choose to go one way or the other when it comes to age and damage.
Age & Expected Lifespan
If you built your home, or purchased a home that was brand new, then you know exactly how old your deck is. But let’s say you bought your house with a deck already installed – if the previous homeowners didn’t keep the records from the installation, or pass along the details, then you might only be able to guess at how old your deck is.
Regardless, most deck experts agree that the average lifespan of a wooden deck is around 15-20 years, give or take an extra five years depending on how well the deck has been maintained. Wood fencing is about the same, depending on the materials used and the level of care invested in maintenance over time.
Now, that doesn’t mean that once your deck’s lifespan is up that it’s all going to fall apart at once. But you will start to notice the deck beginning to sag, wood beginning to soften (and failing to hold screws or nails), or even soft spots across the surface of the deck.
If your fence or deck is at or beyond the end of its anticipated lifespan, you may opt to replace it rather than repair – after all, making repairs to a fence or deck that is quickly losing stability due to age is just a costly band-aid to delay an inevitable replacement.
Damage – Severe or Localized?
The other big factor when it comes to replacing or repairing a deck or fence is assessing the overall condition and identifying key areas of damage.
If the damage is highly localized – for example, boards might be discolored or sagging in a specific spot, such as underneath your deck furniture or behind a hanging planter – then it’s possible that a small area like that can simply be repaired by removing and replacing individual slats and possibly reinforcing support beams and joists.
But if the damage is widespread – often due to poor maintenance or lack of weatherproofing – then the situation can be a little more severe. Extensive rotting, termite damage, and general instability can all be examples of problems that are too far gone to simply repair, and might be an indicator that it’s time to replace your deck or fence.
Regardless of the age of your fence or deck, as well as the extent of any damage, it might be in your best interest to contact a fence or decking professional to come out and do an evaluation. Usually this type of consultation is free and will include an estimate to repair and/or replace the deck or fence in question.