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How to Repair Rot in a Cedar Deck

Updated: Apr 26

how to repair rot in a cedar deck

The appeal of a cedar deck extends well beyond its beautiful rustic appearance. This type of lumber naturally resists rot and decay, making it a durable, long-lasting investment in your property.

However, all these benefits fade the moment you discover the signs of rot within your deck. How did this happen, and can you fix a rotting deck? You’ve come to the right place, as we’re going to cover everything you need to know about how to repair rot in a cedar deck.

It’s as simple as stopping the spread of rot by quickly removing all affected boards and replacing them with new ones. We’ll walk you through this process below along with tips on preventing cedar deck rot going forward.

But first thing first - reach out to Quality Cedar Products today and get a quote on your replacement cedar deck boards. As the #1 supplier in North America, you can rest assured you’re getting the stunning, rot-resistant boards you need when you source through us!

Quality Cedar Products can meet all your cedar board needs. This blog is informational only and not a replacement for expert advice. Please consult a professional before starting any building project as your needs and specifications may vary and it may not reflect the most current building codes, regulations, or industry standards.

Why is My Cedar Deck Rotting?

One of the unique characteristics of cedar lumber is that it naturally resists rot. But, even the highest-grade western red cedar can begin to rot if conditions promote fungal growth and moisture retention.

Understanding the signs and causes of rot in your cedar deck is the first step toward effective maintenance and repair - so, let’s quickly get you up to speed on the basics before getting into how to repair rot in a cedar deck.

Signs of Rot

Detecting rot early can save you time and resources. You’ll be able to isolate the problem and salvage as much of your deck as possible. Here’s what you should look out for:

  • Soft Spots: Pressing down on the wood reveals soft or springy areas, indicating the wood fibers are breaking down.

  • Discoloration: Look for areas where the wood has turned noticeably darker than surrounding boards or has unusual green or black patches.

  • Fungal Growth: White, orange, or green tufts/strands growing on the deck surface suggest active decay.

  • Musty Odor: A damp, musty smell typically accompanies rotting wood. You’ll get a whiff of this coming from areas where excess moisture has accumulated.

Common Causes

Now, what could be the culprit behind your rotting cedar deck? There are a few potential causes, including:

  • Improper Sealing: Cedar wood absorbs moisture without a proper sealant, and moisture is the primary catalyst for rot. We’ll talk more about how to seal a cedar deck later on.

  • Water Accumulation: Decks that do not have adequate drainage will hold water, especially in joints and crevices. Over time, this constant moisture exposure leads to rot.

  • Poor Ventilation: Decks close to the ground or with inadequate cedar deck board spacing for airflow retain moisture underneath, promoting rot from below.

  • Environmental Conditions: High humidity, frequent rain, or snow can expedite the rotting process by keeping the wood wet longer. This is unavoidable to a certain extent, which is why you’ll just need to set your expectations about the cedar deck lifespan if you live in this type of climate. 

  • Debris Build-up: Leaves, dirt, and other debris trap moisture against the deck surface and should be cleared regularly to prevent moisture retention.

As you can see, most of the factors that contribute to cedar deck rot can be avoided with a bit of cedar deck maintenance and proper installation. Unfortunately, though, we’re past that. You’re detailing with a rotted cedar deck right now. So, is there any hope for repair?   

Can You Fix a Rotting Cedar Deck?

So, can you fix a rotting cedar deck? It depends on what you consider a “fix”. No, you cannot wash away the rot or even fill in rotting holes in individual boards. 

While you may be able to cover up the issue cosmetically through these types of quick fixes, you’re not eliminating the rot and you’re still leaving it to spread. This is why the only actual solution when it comes to rearing a rotting cedar deck is to replace the boards in question.

That being said, let’s get into how to repair rot in a cedar deck below so you can feel confident in your next steps to restoring your cedar deck to its former glory!

How to Repair Rot in a Cedar Deck: Tips on Replacing Your Rotten Boards

Repairing a cedar deck that has succumbed to rot is possible as long as you act quickly to isolate the rotten boards and prevent them from spreading further, such as to the structural supports of the deck. 

This is why step one is assessing the damage to determine if you simply need to replace a few boards or if you have a more comprehensive repair job on your hands.

Assessing Damage

The sooner you identify the signs of rot and can take action, the better. Thoroughly inspect the entire deck for any visible signs of rot like discolored, soft, crumbling wood. The most important places to check are those that accumulate moisture, like corners or edges of the deck. 

But you should also assess the structural components as these are the most critical from a safety standpoint. These include the joints, beams, and posts. Significant damage here might require professional intervention.

Use a screwdriver to probe suspected areas. If the tool easily penetrates the wood or flakes come off, it’s a sign of rot. Take notes and photographs to help you prepare for the project, as you will be able to share this information with a professional if you need to source materials.

Removing Rotten Boards

Once you’ve documented all the areas that are suffering from rot it’s time to remove the boards in question. 

Take a moment to remove any obstacles from the deck’s surface and get on the appropriate safety gear, like gloves, goggles, and a dust mask to avoid inhaling any fungal spores or wood dust. Then, follow these steps:

  • Removing Fasteners: Use a pry bar, hammer, or drill to carefully remove the fasteners securing the rotten boards to the deck structure. Work carefully to avoid damaging the underlying joists.

  • Cutting Out the Damage: If the rot is confined to a portion of a board, use a circular saw to cut out only the damaged section. Make sure to cut well beyond the rot to ensure all damaged wood is removed. This approach minimizes waste and preserves as much of the original wood as possible.

  • Dispose of Rotten Wood: Properly dispose of the rotten wood to prevent any potential spread of fungi to other parts of your deck or garden.

Replacing With New Cedar Decking

You’ll have a better idea of exactly what replacement boards you need after you’ve removed all signs of rot. It’s important that your new decking matches not just the size of the holes in your deck but also the type of deck boards specifically. This keeps the appearance uniform and ensures the new boards fit seamlessly with the existing deck structure.

Get a few quotes on cedar deck board prices if you’re replacing a large portion of your deck as the costs can quickly add up. But, remember that you get what you pay for. As we discuss in our guide on western red cedar grading, it’s worth paying more for more robust, aesthetically pleasing decking.

Like we said earlier, you can count on Quality Cedar Products for western red cedar lumber for sale. We offer the best quality boards backed by world-class customer service every step of the way, even going as far as to protect your order with a satisfaction guarantee. You can get a quote today or learn more about our company over on our website.

Once you have your new boards, measure and cut them to fit the gaps left by the removed rotten boards. If you're replacing an entire section, consider cutting all pieces before installation to ensure they fit together correctly.

Then, simply secure the new boards in place using deck screws or nails. Be sure to pre-drill holes for the screws to prevent splitting the new cedar boards. If you have any questions about how to install cedar deck boards, read our detailed guide or consult a professional.

Finishing and Sealing

Sand the entire deck upon installing all the new boards to ensure a smooth, uniform surface. This not only enhances the deck's appearance but also prepares it for sealing by removing any residual dirt and evening out any minor imperfections.

Follow this up by cleaning to remove all sawdust, debris, and potential fungal spores. A deck cleaner can be used for a more thorough cleaning, which helps the sealant adhere better. You can also learn more about this in our guide on how to clean cedar decking.

Next, choose a high-quality sealant suitable for cedar decking. This will protect the wood from moisture and UV damage so you don’t have to worry about replacement anytime soon. 

Apply the sealant according to the manufacturer's instructions, using a brush or roller for an even coat. Pay particular attention to the new boards but consider resealing the entire deck for the best protection and to make sure the appearance is cohesive.

Get the Replacement Cedar Decking You Need for a Stunning Like-New Deck at Quality Cedar Products!

While repairing rot in a cedar deck is frustrating, you can eliminate much of the uncertainty and stress by sourcing your replacement decking here at Quality Cedar Products.

We understand the importance of high-quality materials in construction and renovation projects and deliver the exceptional cedar decking your projects demand. Every piece of cedar we sell has passed through our rigorous sorting and grading process, so you can rest assured you’re getting nothing but the best boards and posts.

You don’t just have to take our word for it, either. In the rare case that our delivery truck shows up at your doorstep and you’re not satisfied, just let us know. We’ll turn around and you won’t pay a cent until we come back and make it right with products that meet your standards. 

Whether you're placing your first order or scheduling regular deliveries, our streamlined online ordering system makes the process seamless and quick. 

Looking for a custom quote? Our team is ready to assist with all your project needs, ensuring you get precisely what you need for that perfect finish.

So, order your replacement deck boards today and put the concerns of rot in the past for good!

How to Prevent Cedar Deck Rot Going Forward

You know what they say - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is why we encourage you to implement a regular cleaning and maintenance routine to avoid the stress and hassle of dealing with cedar deck rot in the future. Here are some tips on how to protect a cedar deck:

  • Apply a Protective Sealant: Regularly re-apply a water-repellent sealant to block moisture penetration every 2 to 3 years or as recommended by the product manufacturer.

  • Ensure Proper Ventilation: Facilitate good air circulation around and under your deck to help keep the wood dry. This is especially important for decks close to the ground.

  • Maintain Clean Surfaces: Sweep your deck frequently to remove leaves, dirt, and debris that can trap moisture against the wood surface.

  • Inspect and Repair: Conduct annual inspections of your deck for signs of wear, loose boards, or protruding nails and screws that can allow water to seep in. Make repairs as soon as issues are identified to limit the work needed.

  • Control Surrounding Vegetation: Trim plants and shrubs near the deck to minimize dampness and reduce the risk of rot from plant matter.

  • Improve Drainage: Ensure that your deck is designed to drain water effectively. Avoid allowing water to pool on or around the deck area. You can use gutters and downspouts to direct water away from your deck, reducing prolonged exposure to moisture

  • Use Quality Fasteners: Stainless steel or coated fasteners resist rust and corrosion, which can compromise the integrity of the wood.

  • Regular Staining or Painting: Beyond sealing, consider staining or painting your deck to provide an additional layer of moisture protection.

  • Winter Care: Clear your deck of snow and ice regularly to prevent water seepage as they melt.

Implementing these tactics will go a long way in saving you the hassle of repairing rot in your cedar decking going forward. With all that said, it’s time to wrap up our guide on how to repair rot in a cedar deck below.

Final Thoughts on How to Repair Rot in a Cedar Deck

There you have it - everything you need to know about repairing rotting cedar deck boards. Recognizing early signs of rot, addressing them with proper techniques, and using quality replacement materials like those from Quality Cedar Products will help you put this problem in the past for good. 

You should also implement regular maintenance, including sealing, cleaning, and ensuring proper ventilation to protect your deck from future damage.

Otherwise, order your cedar decking today and experience firsthand what makes Quality Cedar Products the most trusted supplier in all of North America. A pristine deck is just a few clicks away!

Quality Cedar Products does not assume any liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of the information provided in this blog post. The reader is solely responsible for any actions taken based on the information presented. Any reliance on the information is at the reader's own risk.

Quality Cedar Products is not responsible for any loss, injury, or damage that may occur as a result of following the suggestions, tips, or recommendations provided in this blog post. Building projects involve inherent risks, and it is essential to exercise caution, obtain proper permits, and engage qualified professionals to ensure safety and compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. The inclusion of external links, references, or recommendations in this blog post does not constitute endorsement or guarantee the quality, reliability, or suitability of the linked sources. The reader should independently verify the information and assess its relevance to their specific circumstances. The author reserves the right to modify, update, or remove the content of this blog post at any time without prior notice. It is recommended to check for the most recent updates or consult with professionals to ensure the information is current and applicable. By reading this blog post, the reader acknowledges and accepts the above disclaimer and agrees to use the information provided responsibly and at their own discretion.

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