In my experience, deck builders have one of two approaches to resurfacing decks. For Group 1, it’s a hard “No,” and for plenty of sound reasons. For Group 2, the response is the opposite: “No permits. Ready-made revenue.” Neither group is wrong, of course. Much like the dump truck/dump trailer/dumpster debate, the choice depends on what works best for your business and what you’re set up for (I’m in the dump-truck camp, by the way).

While I prefer new construction—and a number of the decks that I’ve resurfaced have left me wondering why on earth I’m not in Group 1—the majority of the frames I inspect have decades of life left in them. I can’t see below grade, of course, but 99% of the framing I’ve seen looks lumberyard new, even joists and other framing that is in ground contact. Other than some staining and maybe some rust at the hangers and some unfortunate 19.2-inch-on-center joist spacing, I can read the tags and lumber stamps like the lumber just slid off the truck. At times, the wood fiber is still so tenacious that removing fasteners is impossible.

For the most part, belt-and-suspenders structural repairs on decks like these are straightforward. But deck resurfacing projects call for a confluence and overlap of building code, craft, and common sense, especially when it comes to guard rails and unique features such as privacy screens or built-in benches.

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