Deck Repair: How to Fix Popped Nails

popped nails in deck boards
What You'll Need
Nail set
3-inch long decking screws
Electric screwdriver
Wood putty
Putty knife

One of the most common needs for deck repair involves nails popping out of the floorboards. These can not only compromise the integrity of the deck, but they are also a major safety hazard for those walking on the wood in bare feet. The following article will show you both how to fix uprooted nails and how to prevent them for good.

Step 1 - Locating Popped Nails and Removing Them

Nails generally pop out of wood decking due to every day use and because of contraction of the wood during cold and hot periods. Walk the deck slowly as you inspect the deck, paying close attention to each board. There are nails in the floorboards at every cross panel and, as such, that section would be looser than the other boards around it. Once you locate a popped nail you can use the pry bar section of the hammer to remove them. If the popped nail is not out far enough to grab you can depress the board with weight to cause the nail to protrude.

Step 2 - Replacing the Nails

You could hammer the popped nails back into the deck, but this is only a temporary fix. Since the nail popped out, it means the hole has become slightly larger than the nail. This means it is much safer to replace the nail. Use nails that are the same size as the other nails in your deck. Line the nail up close to the previous hole and nail it in place. A nail set has a short shaft made of metal with a blunt and narrow tip. You can use this instrument to push the nail further into the wood by setting the top of the nail under the surface.

Step 3 - Fixing Popped Nails for Good

Owning a deck means that getting popped nails is something that you simply cannot avoid. However, when they do happen, you can stop them from happening again. After the offending nail has been replaced and sunk below the surface of the floorboard with the nail set you can now make sure it will not happen again.

Place a deck screw next to the nail you drove into the deck and screw it in place. Make sure that it is close enough so that the head of the screw slightly covers the top of the nail. This prevents the nail from popping up again. To further prevent the nail from popping up you will spread wood putty over the holes of both the screw and the nail. Use the putty knife to smooth the putty over the hole as well as to push it further inside.