Deck - replace nails with screws ???

bigi

Platinum Member
Aug 8, 2001
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My deck is solid but few nails do pop out every spring and become dangerous. Would like to replace all nails with screws.

I can't remove the boards all together as I have a patio cover built over my deck.

Q: Is there a non-destructive way to get nails out of the bards? I know I could just pry those out but then the board gets damaged by the bar. Any tricks?
 

snoopy7548

Diamond Member
Jan 1, 2005
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I would probably just spot-replace the nails with screws as they pop out or become a hazard, as they'll be easier to take out. I'm sure at least some of them will never pop out.
 

Pick2

Golden Member
Feb 14, 2017
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I would suggest getting stainless screws , they won't rust and you'll be able to remove them if you ever need to.
My neighbor used steel drywall screws , and 2 years later , he snapped off every one he tried to remove. Had to replace the whole deck instead of a few boards like he had planed
 

monkeydelmagico

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2011
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The trick to prying out nails without damaging the underlying surface is shims. A paint stick works great. Use a good pry bar. That tear drop slot cut into it is there just for this purpose. Slip the shim/paint stick under the teeth prior to pulling.

I would suggest getting stainless screws , they won't rust and you'll be able to remove them if you ever need to.
My neighbor used steel drywall screws , and 2 years later , he snapped off every one he tried to remove. Had to replace the whole deck instead of a few boards like he had planed

Your neighbor is not very smart. Drywall screws for exterior decking is silly. Use galvanized deck screws. Stainless is too expensive for this application.
 
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Greenman

Lifer
Oct 15, 1999
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The nails that are tight to the boards surface aren't going to come out without damaging the wood. I have had some luck pulling the nails and flipping the boards over then screwing them down.
 

13Gigatons

Diamond Member
Apr 19, 2005
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Other techniques:

Pound the nail below flush and fill the hole with wood filler.
or
Get a sledgehammer and go under the deck and give a whack to raise the board. Then use the nail puller to get it out without damaging the surface.
 
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Greenman

Lifer
Oct 15, 1999
20,358
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Other techniques:

Pound the nail below flush and fill the hole with wood filler.
or
Get a sledgehammer and go under the deck and give a whack to raise the board. Then use the nail puller to get it out without damaging the surface.
If it an old deck you'll split a lot of boards doing that.
I've tried just about every method of saving decks. Some were pretty old with clear all heart redwood decking and badly rotted framing. The only method that allowed us to save most of the lumber was pulling the nails and flipping the boards. We then went over the deck with a floor sander, looked fantastic.
 

13Gigatons

Diamond Member
Apr 19, 2005
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If it an old deck you'll split a lot of boards doing that.
I've tried just about every method of saving decks. Some were pretty old with clear all heart redwood decking and badly rotted framing. The only method that allowed us to save most of the lumber was pulling the nails and flipping the boards. We then went over the deck with a floor sander, looked fantastic.

He didn't say anything about the age or condition of the deck. That would have to be taken into consideration.
 

paperfist

Diamond Member
Nov 30, 2000
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www.the-teh.com
Too bad they didn't have an easy out tool for nails.

Do the nails happen to protrude through the other side of the wood? Is so you can pull them out that way with a huge pair of wire nippers.
 

PowerEngineer

Diamond Member
Oct 22, 2001
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I would be surprised if the nails aren't the small headed (galvanized) ones meant to be countersunk into the boards in the first place. If you try to pry the boards up, I suspect that most of those nails will stay where they are and you will just pull their heads through the boards. Perhaps you could just leave the nails and add some screws to hold the boards down better; it might stop the nails from popping up.
 

bigi

Platinum Member
Aug 8, 2001
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Thanks for all replies.

Deck is mostly patio covered so there is virtually no elements damage to boards there. Then, there are stairs an about 4x8 uncovered part that does look worse.

I am thinking for rebuilding the stairs. This is about 20+ years old.

I had removed one stair board to see how planning would help. The nails were super stuck and brittle. I was able to get 3 out of 4 out but 4th one just kept shattering. I ran this through planner, took 1/8 off from top/bottom sides and it really looks great.

The nails are a bitch to deal with on the uncovered part due to rust. Yes, small headed ones which are even worse to grab onto.

I can't move up/loosen boards due to patio construction over it. The only way is to grab the nail by its head and remove if possible.