Decks (or porches), just like anything else, wear down over time and need repairs. Thankfully, repairing a deck isn't nearly as complicated as building one. As long as it's still structurally sound overall, you should be able to get it looking and working like new.
There are a few parts your deck railings that may need to be replaced as time does its work. Here are a few simple railing repairs:Replacing a Baluster
Balusters are the pieces of wood that run vertically between the top and bottom rails of the railing. First, remove the damaged piece by using a drill to remove the screws. Then, either cut a new baluster to size or purchase a replacement (if possible). Hold the new piece in place and use the drill again, with a 1/8-in (3-mm) drill pit to make pilot holes in it (one on top and one on the bottom). Screw the new baluster into place with ½-icnh (6-cm) galvanized screws.
Reinforcing a Railing
All you need for this job is a scrap of pressure treated 2x4 and a few screws. Place the scrap of 2x4 under the handrail and up against the railing post (in the corner of the two). Using an electric drill put two 3-inch galvanized screws through the 2x4 and into the railing post. Put another 2 ½-inch screw down through the handrail into the 2x4.
Replacing a Post
To replace a corner post (or other supporting post), you'll first have to remove the handrail, backing out the screw with an electric drill. Put the screws in a plastic bag so as not to lose them. If it's nailed into place, hold a piece of scrap wood on the underside of the railing and hit it up with a hammer until the nails release enough to be pried off. Then, remove the post as carefully as possible, so as not to damage the rest of the railing or deck.
Cut a new replacement post (most likely a 4x4). Make it the exact same size, and with any of the same angles and notches as the old post. Apply some wood preservative to the inside of any notches as well. Hold the post in place and drill pilot holes for the screws. Use two 5-inch lag screws and washers to screw the new post into place. Finish by reattaching the handrail.
OTHER REPAIRSReplacing a Step
Remove the damaged step by backing out the screws or hammering it up (as described in the "Replacing a Post" section above). Then, cut a new step to the size of the old one and screw or nail it into place. Replacing a Deck Board
This is basically the same process as replacing a step. You'll need to cut a new board to the same size as the old one. Back out the screws or use the hammer-and-block method (for nails) to remove the board. Screw or nail the new board in place, and you're all set.
If your deck's problems are more structural than cosmetic, you should consult with a professional to decide the best way to approach the problem. However, these basic repairs should help you keep your deck safe and usable for a long time.