There are lots of reasons to remodel your deck and lots of ways to do it. If your worn-out wood decking needs replacing anyway, give low-maintenance composite deck boards a try. Modular railings are a great DIY renovation option to refresh the look of a deck. The same goes for LED deck lights, which are easier than ever to install. Other deck renovations, such as extending your deck and/or screening it in, might require professional help.
5 Ways to Refresh or Remodel Your Deck
If the structure under your wood deck boards is sound, consider replacing worn or rotted wood decking with composite decking. It won’t rot like wood and it resists fading, staining, and mold. It’s also low maintenance. No sanding or refinishing is required. You just need to give the deck boards an occasional cleaning with soap and water.
You can combine different colors of composite deck boards to create patterns. Composite decking can also use hidden fasteners to give the surface a clean, smooth finish. These cleat-type connectors are easy to install. Just slide each end of the connector into the side grooves of the decking and screw it down to the joist.
Composite decking costs a little more than wood initially, but it can last twice as long. And because the decking needs so little maintenance, you’ll spend much more time enjoying your deck than you will on upkeep.
2. Add or Update Deck Railing
Whether you’re installing railings for the first time or updating them, nothing adds more visibility and character to a deck than its railings. Ready-to-install railing panels and/or modular railing components put the job well within reach of most DIYers. Plus, there are hundreds of railing designs available in a range of materials, including wood, metal, plastic, composite, and combinations. You can even mix and match colors and styles to create a custom look.
If your railing design calls for installing new posts, learn how to install them properly or hire a professional. They can’t be wobbly. If the posts are in good shape, however, you can start your makeover right away by adding color-matched sleeves, caps, and skirt trim over them. Then connect the railing panels or modular railing components. Some composite-based railings—which never rot, warp, or splinter—can be installed using fewer than two dozen fasteners per section.
3. Extend Your Deck
If your deck is in good condition but small, save time and money by extending it instead of replacing it. With an extension, you not only have more room to cook, converse or cocoon, but you can make a design statement.
The simplest way to extend your deck is to add a platform that steps up or down from your existing deck. To go up a level, build a platform using 2×6 joists and toe-nail one end to the existing deck’s surface. Support the other sides with new posts and beams. To step down a level, fasten joist hangers to the deck’s beam to hold one end of the platform and add posts beams elsewhere to support the other sides.
The project will likely require a permit, so check with local building authorities and your homeowners’ association before you start. Depending on your skill level, you may also want to hire a contractor to help build your deck extension.
4. Add or Update Lighting
Lighting adds atmosphere and makes your deck safer and more useful. While candles and paper lanterns are cheap and add interest, they’re impractical. Two better budget-conscious options are string lights, with pendant bulbs, and LED rope lights, with bulbs housed inside translucent tubing. Hang the string lights from the ceiling or along a wall. Rope lights work best under railings or under the outside edges of your deck.
For a more permanent solution, use low-voltage fixtures. Many of them install directly into deck boards, post caps and stair risers. Because they use LEDs, the lights last much longer and use less energy than other bulb types. They also give you more control over your lighting design and can be matched with spotlights and other types of fixtures to accent trees or shrubs and to illuminate pathways.
Before undertaking any electrical work, make sure your wiring is grounded and capable of handling the new electrical load. If you’re unfamiliar with what the electrical code requires for outdoor connections, play it safe and hire a professional electrician.
5. Screen in Your Deck or Porch
If your deck or porch has a roof, you’re in luck. Screening it in could be a simple matter of stapling screen fabric between the existing posts. Add a doorway, and you’re in business.
Most decks don’t have roofs and fewer still can support the weight of a roof and the walls that a screen porch needs. That’s why most screened-in decks and porches are a complete makeover, built from the ground up, and not retrofitted.
Your best bet is to consult a contractor or an architect. However, if you just want more protection from the sun and rain, there are other options like pergolas and sun shades.