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rotten shakes under deck ledger board

I have been living in my home for 2 years and am now removing the top of my deck because over half of the wood has rotted. In removing the pieces next to the house, I discoved that the 2x12 that is attached to the house was attached right on top of the cedar shake siding. Although the board and the screws holding the deck to the house seem sound, the shakes just above it are very wet and are rotting and in a couple of places, the plastic wrap is exposed. I had hoped I could just replace the top with Trex. The top of the deck is only about 18 to 24 inches above the ground. (I have a ranch.) Is there any way I could salvage the deck support framing without ripping it out and replacing the whole thing? And how do I replace the rotted shakes? I have attached some pictures. The white spot above the 2x12 is the house wrap showing beneath the shakes that have rotted and fallen away.

Re: rotten shakes under deck ledger board

You really do need to remove the rotted material and replace it. If you leave it it will only get worse and you will have a bigger repair job down the road.

To replace a shingle (they are probably shingles and not shakes) you first need to remove the rotted shingle using a shingle ripper. See what one looks like here:
You slide the head of the shingle ripper up under the damaged shingle and find a nail holding it. You then hook the notch of the head onto the nail and hit down on the horizontal part of the handle with a hammer to rip the nail out. Remember that each shingle is about 16-18" long and that there are probably at least 4 nails in each shingle: one on each side of the shingle about 1" up from the bottom of the shingle on top and about 1/2" in from each side, and the shingles on top of the rotted shingles also have nails in them that probably go though the shingle you are trying to remove. Once you get the nails out you should be able to just pull the shingle out by hand.

Once you think you have all the nails out for the shingle you are removing then slide the shingle ripper back into the place where the shingle was and feel with it for any nails you might have missed.

When you have all the rotted shingles removed you simply put new shingles in where the old shingles were (you might have to trim them to fit). To nail them in you put the new shingle in place but set it so the bottom is about 1/2" too low. Then nail it in with the nails angled down. (The tip of the nail should be angled up, the head angled down.) The nails should be placed so that the head of the nail is just below the bottom of the shingle on top of the one being replaced. Once the new shingle is nailed then put a scrap board on the bottom edge of the new shingle and hit the board to drive the shingle upwards. This will drive the heads of the nails up underneath the shingle on top and hide the nail heads.

There are a lot more details to think about than I can explain in detail in this post -- if you are painting the house you want to make sure the replacement shingles are primed on all sides before installing them, you have to make sure that the gaps in your courses of shingles don't overlap, use the right nails (one website recommended 5 penny galvanized box nails), use a story board and chalk lines if you are replacing a bunch of shingles – to name a few. You should do an internet search on shingle siding and read up on it carefully before starting the project so that you don't overlook the details.

Hey, let me know how it turns out.

Re: rotten shakes under deck ledger board

Thanks for responding, however you didn't really answer my question. I know that I need to replace the rotten shakes, but the board holding the deck to the house needs to be taken off in order to do that, because the previous owners attached that board right over the shakes. The frame of the deck is fine, so is there a way to deal with this, i.e. take the board off of the house without demolishing the entire deck which is what I want to avoid doing. Assuming that can be done, maybe with some kind if jack, I need to put some flashing back there. How should I do that? Also, can I build some kind of support next to the house so that I don't need to rebolt the deck to the house? The bottom line is that I don't want to have to rebuild the whole deck but I need to remove the ledger board from the house in order to take care of the rotten shakes.

Re: rotten shakes under deck ledger board

I think that you will be able to do what you want – take the old ledger board off and replace the shakes and put in a new ledger board – without dismantling the whole deck.

Take the following as an idea for consideration but remember that I am just a DIYer so PLEASE check with someone who knows what they are doing before you try this! Your local building inspector is a good person to ask for advice.

I think the ledger board on your deck is analogous to a header. It is a horizontal structural member that holds up other horizontal structural members (floor and deck joists). You can (temporarily) take out a header if you want to put another one in – say a bigger one or if you want to push a dropped header up into the ceiling to make it a flush header. By the same token you should be able to temporarily take out your ledger board to replace it with a new ledger board (and remove the rotten shakes at the same time).

To do this you would have to first build a temporary support wall underneath your deck joists close to the house. Your deck won’t have much weight to support so this wall doesn’t have to be super beefy (again, check with your building inspector). You should also leave in or add some boards across the top and/or bottom to hold the joists in place once the ledger board is removed.

Once your deck is supported and your joists are secured you can remove the ledger board. You’ll have to remove all the fasteners holding it to the house and to the joists by pulling them and/or cutting them with a reciprocating saw. Once all the fasteners are removed or cut the ledger board should come out.

Now you can remove the old rotten shakes and do any repairs to the house itself. (If the shakes are rotten the sheathing underneath might be compromised, too.) When your repairs are done you can then put in a new ledger board. (Make sure you know how to do this properly.) The problem you will run into now (if you do nothing) is that the new ledger board will be closer to the house than the old one because the shakes acted like shims and moved the old ledger board away from the house. So if you want the new ledger board to be properly spaced to support the joists (which, of course, you do) you will have to shim out the new ledger board, too. I don’t know how much distance we are talking about here and if this will be a problem for you. Again, please discuss this with your building inspector.

Once all your repairs are you should take steps to prevent the problem from recurring. Do you have gutters above the deck? Is rain splashing on the deck and then splashing up on the house? This could be the source of your rot problems. So if you don’t have gutters it might be a good idea to put some in to prevent this from happening again.

Re: rotten shakes under deck ledger board

Hey, one more thing.....

Another option in supporting your repaired deck is to not reattach it to the house but instead make it a freestanding deck. That is mentioned as the preferred route in this TOH website article.


This article also shows how to attach the ledger board to the house if you choose to stick with that method.

Re: rotten shakes under deck ledger board

Thanks for the idea. We had already decided on that route and are having someone do it for us and at the same time they will fix the rotting shakes. Hopefully the damage will not go any deaper that the exterior of the house. Ripping off the top of the deck and pulling out all of the nails was enough work for us. We are glad to leave the rest to pros.

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