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Question DetailsAsked on 7/15/2015

Any experience with deck capping or deck topping? Do you recommend them as alternatives to replacing an old deck?

I have an old, pressure-treated deck that has been largely ignored the last many years since I became disabled. Some boards are now splintering and rotting and need to be replaced and the whole deck needs some kind of restoration. I am very anxious to restore it in a way that will need little to no maintenance as I am no longer able to do such work myself and have a limited income.

I am willing to tear up the surface boards and replace them with composite, but I am concerned by past reports of mold growth and other failures. What is the current performance of composite wood brands? Any that do not require frequent maintenance of some sort?

I have also found deck capping (UltraDeck® QuickCap) and deck topping (Great Railing Deck-Topper, HandyDeck deck tiles) as cost -effective options since the old boards don't need to be torn up, except the rotted ones.

Any experience with deck topping or capping? Recommended brands? What about drainage? Water sits in a dark, inside corner.

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1 Answer


My recommendation - never overlay decking with another layer because water WILL get in between them and cause rapid rot and decay.

I have not seen a lot of capping systems in use, but every one I have seen appears to me to be an invitation to rot for the above reason as none are truly waterproof (other than one-piece membrane roofing material) - plus generally a lot more expensive than just redecking.

You say you have limited income - I would just have the rotten and badly splitting boards removed and replaced with new similar treated boards, then pressure wash, let THOROUGHLY dry and retreat the entire deck (old and new) with the same type/compatible preservative - there are brush/spray/roll on coatings suitable for recoating (and touching up cut ends) from Cupreanol, Copper Green, Copper Care and DuPont and others - come in green and dark brown for the old CCA/ACC/ACA treated wood, or the orangish brown like the original (can use dark brown if desired) for Wolmanized type treated wood. My preference for the replacement wood - the green copper naptha compounds by far over Wolmanized - I see 3-5 times longer life with the green treatment. You can't get the probably original arsenic compounds these days for residential use - so you will probably be looking at a copper napthenate or copper napthelate product - oil based (paint thinner cleanup) is FARRRR better penetrating and longer lasting than water based products, but does require the decking be very well dried after washing or any rains.

Then for maintenance - deck cleaner and pressure washing then recoating as needed - about every 10-20 years in my experience for above-ground purposes. I do NOT seal treated wood - properly treated with a good penetrating dose, intermittent water on it does not hurt it, and sealer would prevent even or full penetration of recoating. I have CCA/ACA treated wood on my decks and with the exception of one board that I should not have put in due to evidence of a bit of original burn damage and rot, noe have shown any decay or deterioration (other than fading) in close to 30 years. Even my partially buried 4x6 border timbers show nothing more than fading and weed whacker scars after 20+ years with zero maintenance or retreatment. However, to geat that kind of performance you need 0.60 lbs/CF treatment or a good retreatment (preferably at initial installation), not the 0.04, 0.30, or even 0.24 lb they are using today, and definitely incised and LPG or mineral spirits solvent, not water borne, in my opinion. The latter I have seen start rotting and growing fungus in less than a year, even though the cost is near identical (at least in my area).

Note - basically impossible to get stain off siding so needs good masking especially if spraying - brushing/rolling or rolling after spraying gives best penetration and appearance and the spraying also gets the sides of the boards if a decent gap between boards whereas brushing/rolling generally gets only the tops. Also, unless you have cadmium plated or stainless deck fasteners it will eventually cause rusting, but I have never seen it get bad enough to cause structural damage - just fastener and surficial galvanized connection plate rusting - mostly rusting of nail and screw heads where the black oxide or galvanized coating was damaged during installation.

Drainage you should fix first - commonly bh adjusting the height of supporting "outside" edge columns by trimming or shimming as needed - should definitely not have any pooling on the deck in general, though of course some boards (even if installed cupper-side down originally) will have local dimples and cupping that traps a bit of water in rains or washing.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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