Do I need to redo this deck or it would be OK to clean it and repaint it ? In my opinion the floor is in bad shape and so are the top rails enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

By law info

  • what do you mean by "redo?" Do you mean completely demolish the deck and replace it or something less than that? Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 23:17
  • I would like to replace the decking the top rails and the thread. Whatever is in vertical position (balusters,posts,rail posts) is in good shape. The deck was not well maintained by the former owner. It is going to be challenging to replace only what I want. I might also end up replacing the lattice fence used for privacy because the decking is trapped under the rails
    – MiniMe
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 0:41
  • nobody able to advise here?
    – MiniMe
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 1:08

5 Answers 5


All you need to do is replace the top of the rails, stair treads, and the decking. The rest can be sanded. Use oil based paint or a marine paint. DO NOT use an epoxy or latex in Toronto. There are too many freeze cycles. This is a one day job if you have a few buddies. You do not need a permit in most places to repair existing structures to a point. I doubt new decking boards constitutes that in Toronto but you can always call city hall. Utterly crazy to tear the whole thing down... Like tearing down studs because drywall is banged up.

  • Too much common sense here. Good trick with the marine paint. Where do I find that, I don't think that it comes in a color that matches the existing one. It might be difficult to get. I will still have a problem here, I need to do the patio :-) before I do the deck because the deck needs some water pressure cleaning to remove the old paint (I guess) but then all that water will make it into my walls causing humidity in my basement. Oder posts show that the wall adjacent to the patio gets excessively wet because the patio is sloped toward the house
    – MiniMe
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 19:52
  • You can find marine paint at marine stores or big boxes. At big boxes have them ship to store and mix to whatever color you like. You will need to apply a primer before putting it on wood - just see manufacturer details or ask store. It really is the perfect paint for cold weather decks. We use this for decks in Chicago area and they have held up great. I actually got an email from a person who bought one of my houses 6-7 years ago because their friends wanted to know what kind of paint it was - and we had that mixed in a bright royal blue.
    – DMoore
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 20:45
  • Can you give me a name or something? I searched Homedepot, Lowes and Rona and Canadian Tire, none of them has marine paint and these are big box stores (you already know that I am in Canada)
    – MiniMe
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 0:48
  • I have used duralex before homedepot.com/p/…
    – DMoore
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 3:17

Yes, your deck is a bit tired. I don't think anybody can tell you whether to re-do or re-hab without seeing it, but these are the sorts of things I think about on a job like this:

Safety: are any boards going to break any time soon? Are they excessively rotted? Can they support an adult bouncing on them? Do you walk around in bare feet, and are slivers a concern? (I see bits that might catch.) Are the stair treads (and whatever holds them to the stringer/carriage) solid? It looks like one has been replaced already. Are the nails popping up in a way that's going to trip/injure people? If so, those could be pulled and replaced with screws.

Aesthetics: do you care about cracks, or is that okay from a wabi-sabi perspective?

Doing a thorough re-decking is almost as hard as building a deck from nothing, so don't sign up for this task without being ready for work.

On the other hand, a good pressure washing and coat of stain is relatively easy and might yield just the result you want.

Dunno. But good luck deciding.

  • Pressure washing, then some bleaching, then stain will do wonders.
    – TX Turner
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 18:06
  • Yes I care about the bad look of the deck. Structurally is solid but it was neglected. As explained all pieces of wood sitting in a vertical position are in good shape. The joists are also good but I am afraid that I will not be able to nail new decking to the same joists... maybe I could if I make sure that I offset the new holes not to match the oldn ones. This might weaken the joists, I will have to see this
    – MiniMe
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 20:40
  • New screw holes won't weaken the joists. If you offset them a bit, you should get good fastening. As noted elsewhere, use screws rated for outdoor use. Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 21:19
  • +1 for pointing out that one stair has been moved and that the stringer's brackets are probably piles of rust. -TLC the rest and be done with it.
    – Mazura
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 5:05
  • How could you guess that one stair has been removed? Which one in the above foto ??
    – MiniMe
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 0:49

Depends on many factors.

Assuming it is structurally sound, which we can't know, then it depends on

  1. Budget
  2. Aesthetic taste
  3. use level
  4. climate

And perhaps more, but that's what I can think of now.

I've seen many decks in that type of shape rehabilitated with a good pressure washing and some nice exterior stain.

However, I've also redone a deck like that using some fancy deck refinisher and it was completely washed away after a hard winter.

But, yes it is possible to clean up that deck. Do not underestimate the value of power washing it and letting it dry thoroughly.

  • Budget...so and so, Aestetic taste=the main reason why I would like to change the things, use level=average, climate=Toronto
    – MiniMe
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 20:36
  • toronto is not an easy climate - snow and freezing... any wood deck will need refinishing regularly. that's why folks use trex (but I don't like the look/feel). cheapest is to refinish this spring. if it looks like crap next spring, try with plastic wood.
    – ssaltman
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 12:29
  • For a little while I considered deck tiles and replacing the top rails, that would be an intermediate solution between rebuilding the deck and the current solution which is to replace the decking and the rails. I don't think that this intermediate solution is a good because it will just postpone the decking replacement which has to happen. Right now the decking is structurally safe but the look is what you see above. One or two years down the road I will have to replace the decking anyway so... I will just do it now
    – MiniMe
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 13:16

This is not something that's easy to tell from pictures.

Things to check for- loose boards, boards that are punky and soft, or boards that have cracked around their fasteners and now move. You want to check for pieces of deck boards coming up.

It appears that someone has used non-galvanized screws to attach the top rail- at the very least that needs to be fixed.

There are a variety of deck 'refurbishing' compounds- basically thick paints with epoxy that can give an old deck a few more years, provided the deck isn't unsafe.

  • No loose boards, just what you see in the pictures, everything else is fine.
    – MiniMe
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 20:40

It depends what the joists and supports are like, if you can't tell then get an engineer over to your house to check them for you, for rebuild jobs like that you should check with you bylaws officer anyways, some places require permits and inspections before and after you do deck rebuilds. They will be able to tell you what you can and can't do, just go down to you local office and check or even just give them a phone call.

You probably could refinish it and just replace the floor boards and rails, but my guess is once you start pulling it apart you'll discover something you didn't notice before, and end up having to replace everything anyways. You don't exactly want your floor to outlive the structure anyways, I'd rather put my foot through a rotted flood than have my whole deck collapse because of rotted joists/supports. If you have the money then it might be worth while to go ahead and replace the whole deck, you can buy complete kits that are just beautiful and super easy to install, you just order it to size and it come all pre-cut for you. We just barely redid my in-laws deck with a kit and it was super nice, and probably just as expensive as as it would have been to buy and cut all the wood ourselves.

Edit: (after permit requirements linked in OP)

When is a Building Permit Not Required?

An uncovered platform (i.e. deck) attached to a residential building provided:

  • its finished deck level is not more than 60 cm (24 inches) above the adjacent finished grade; and/or
  • it is floating on its own supports, (i.e. .it is not attached to a building structure); and/or
  • it does not form part of an exit required under the building code; and complies with the Zoning Bylaw.

Looking at your picture, your deck is higher than 60cm, it looks like it's attached to your house, and I'm guessing there is a door from your house that opens onto your deck. That means that your deck rebuild most likely needs a permit, because even though it's already there, you're technically demolishing it, then rebuilding it, and demolishing things in Toronto requires a permit too. Like I said, even my civil-engineer father in law–who gets paid to inspect these things–thinks that the permits should be unnecessary, but them's the rules.

It's the city of Toronto's call, sucky thing is you could just let your deck go to rot without any intervention from the city, but because you want to get all handyman on it, they're going to make sure it's done by the books so that if anything goes wrong they can make sure the right people get sued.

  • This is a matter of just replacing the pieces of wood that are not in a good shape with ones that are brand new. No design, no structural changes. Can't see why I need an engineer here.
    – MiniMe
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 20:37
  • Belive me, you're preaching to the choir, I want to do the same thing to my deck, but my father in law is a civil engineer and says it's required here, he thinks it's dumb too, but bylaws be bylaws. Doesn't hurt to check, they might have a better answer than we do.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 20:48
  • I added a link to the permit requirements for To.
    – MiniMe
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 22:03
  • @user2059078 - I've edited my answer, looks like you're applying for a permit.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 22:24
  • I am not demolishing anything. I am going to replace those boards and that is all. As I said everything else is in good shape. I am not going to pay the city for that. Replacing 25% of the structure with leaving the rest of it intact does not mean that I demolishing and I am not going to get the handyman to do it.
    – MiniMe
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 1:21

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