Can You Reuse Old Deck Boards by Flipping Them?

When rebuilding or replacing a deck, you might wonder what to do with the old boards. Some people just throw them out, while others try to find someone who wants them. But others wonder if it’s possible to reuse the old deck boards by simply flipping them.

You can reuse old deck boards by flipping them. However, there are some things you need to do first before you can decide whether or not to do it. These include assessing the condition of your old deck boards, checking for fasteners, and many more. 

The rest of this post will tackle these steps in detail, as well as the right way to flip old deck boards. I’ll also present the pros and cons of reusing old deck boards and offer recommendations if you choose to do so. So, if you’re thinking about reusing old deck boards, read on to find out everything you need to know! 

How To Determine if Your Deck Boards Are Reusable

1. Inspect for Damage

The first step in reusing old deck boards is to inspect them for damage. Look for any warping, cracking, or splitting that could make the board unsafe. If the boards are made of pressure-treated lumber, check for any signs of rot. You can also look for signs of insect damage, such as holes or tunneling.

If the boards are made of composite material, check for any damage to the surface. Such damage might include scratches, staining, or fading.

Keep in mind that some damage can be repaired. For example, small cracks and splits can usually be filled with wood filler or epoxy. And pressure-treated lumber that is starting to show signs of rot can often be treated with a preservative to extend its life.

But if the damage is too bad, you will have to replace the old deck boards instead of reusing them.

2. Check for Structural Integrity

Even if your old deck boards are in good condition, you’ll need to check their structural integrity before you can reuse them. To do this, look for any signs of weakness, such as sagging or bowing.

If the old deck boards are made of pressure-treated lumber, check for any screws that are coming loose. Also, look for any screws that have worked their way out of the boards.

Meanwhile, if the old deck boards are made of composite material, check to see if any of the boards are starting to delaminate. This is when the layers of the composite material start to separate from each other.

3. Ensure That the Old Deck Boards Are Still the Right Size

Over time, deck boards can shrink as they dry out. So, before you reuse old deck boards, make sure they’re still the right size for your project.

To do this, measure the old deck boards and compare the measurements to the ones you need for your refurbished deck. If the old deck boards are a different size, you’ll either need to trim them down or replace them.

4. Check the Old Deck Boards for Fasteners

If you’re planning on flipping the old deck boards, you’ll need to remove any nails or screws that are still in them. To do this, carefully remove the fasteners with a pry bar or a screwdriver.

Be careful not to damage the old deck boards as you remove the fasteners. Additionally, make sure to dispose of the fasteners properly so they don’t end up in your new deck.

5. Make Sure You Have Enough Old Deck Boards To Complete Your Project

Depending on the size of your project, you may need to replace some of the old deck boards. So before flipping old deck boards, ensure you have enough to complete the job.

Measure your project and compare the measurements to the old deck boards. If you need more boards, look for ones that are similar in size and shape. You can either buy new boards or look for old, recyclable boards in a color similar to the ones you already have.

How To Flip Deck Boards for a New Look

Now that you know how to determine if your old deck boards are still usable, it’s time to learn how to flip and reuse them for a new look.

The first step is to remove the old deck boards. Once all of the old deck boards have been removed, you can now proceed to clean them using a deck-cleaning product like DeckMAX Concentrated Composite & Wood Deck Cleaner (available on Amazon). This cleaner is specifically formulated to remove environmental black and green staining on composite and wood decking.

After making sure the deck boards are clean, you can now reinstall them. Ideally, you should use the same type of fasteners to reinstall the old deck boards. However, as long as they are appropriate for your needs, you can also use a different type of fastener, such as screws instead of nails.

Once the old deck boards have been flipped over, you can now enjoy your new deck. But remember to inspect the old deck boards periodically to ensure they are still in good condition. If you spot any damage, fix it as soon as you can.

How Long Will Flipped Old Deck Boards Last?

The lifespan of flipped old deck boards will depend on several factors, such as the wood type, the climate, and how well the old deck boards are maintained.

  • Type of wood. Hardwoods like maple, oak, and mahogany tend to last longer than softwoods, such as cedar and redwood, and they won’t warp or cup as easily. So if you’re looking for old deck boards that will still last a long time, hardwoods are the way to go.
  • Climate. If you live in a place with harsh weather, old softwood deck boards might not last as long as hardwood ones. This is because softwoods are more susceptible to sun, wind, and rain damage. Meanwhile, old deck boards made of hardwood can last for many years in harsher climates.
  • Maintenance. Old deck boards that are properly cleaned and sealed will last longer than those that are not. Be sure to inspect the old deck boards periodically for any signs of damage, such as rot or decay. 

In general, however, you can expect your old deck boards to last for several years before they need to be replaced. With proper care and maintenance, your old deck boards should last for many years to come.

If you’re into woodworking or DIY, you’ve probably used cedar before. Despite its durability, cedar splits more often than many would like. Find out why and what you can do about it in my complete guide. [Why Does Cedar Wood Split? 10 Causes and Fixes]

Pros and Cons of Flipping Deck Boards

Like any other home improvement project, flipping old deck boards has both pros and cons. Here are some important things to think about before you start this project.

Pros

  • Flipping the boards will give your deck a whole new look. If your old deck is starting to show its age, flipping the boards can give it a fresh, new appearance.
  • It can save you money. If you’re considering replacing your old deck, flipping the boards may be a more cost-effective option. You’ll still need to purchase new decking materials, but you won’t have to pay for labor costs associated with tearing out your old deck and installing a new one.
  • It will help to protect the underlying joists from weather damage.

Cons

  • Flipping the boards can be a lot of work. You’ll need to remove all the old boards, flip them over, and then reinstall them. This can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive project.
  • There’s a risk of damaging the boards. When you remove old boards, there’s a risk of damaging them. And, if you’re not careful when flipping them over, you could end up cracking or splitting the boards.
  • You will need to have a plan in place for disposing of the old deck boards that are too damaged to be reused, which is an additional cost.

Overall, turning old deck boards over and using them again has both advantages and disadvantages. Consider those pros and cons before making a decision. If you decide to do the project, make sure to follow all safety rules and have a plan for disposing of the old deck boards.

With that, let me share with you a few tips when preparing old deck boards for reuse.

Useful Tips for Flipping Old Deck Boards

  • Inspect the old deck boards carefully before you flip them over. Look for any type of damage, such as rot or decay. If you notice any damage, be sure to repair it before flipping the old deck boards over.
  • Remove all of the old deck boards before flipping them over. This will make the project go much smoother and help prevent damage to the old deck boards.
  • Be careful when removing fasteners from old deck boards. You don’t want to damage the boards as you remove them.
  • Use the same type of fasteners to re-install the old deck boards. This will help to ensure a tight, secure fit and help to prevent the old deck boards from coming loose.
  • Remove any old paint or stain. If the old deck boards are painted or stained, you’ll need to remove the old paint or stain before you can reuse them. To do this, use a paint stripper or sandpaper to remove the old finish.

Conclusion

Flipping old deck boards can give your deck a whole new look. However, before starting this project, you should carefully consider the pros and cons. Be sure to follow all safety precautions, too, and have a plan in place for disposing of the old deck boards. With that said, if you decide to go ahead with flipping your old deck boards, the tips I’ve mentioned above will help make the process go smoothly. 

Leave a Comment