The nails that hold your deck planks in place should sit flushly and tightly in the wood. You shouldn't really know that they are there. However, sometimes, decking nails start to come loose. They don't hold tight any longer or they start to stick out of the wood itself.
Why does this happen and what can you do about it?
Why Decking Nails Work Loose
Sometimes, the age of your decking affects the nails that hold it together. Constant use and weather changes make the boards move and change shape. Over the years, these movements can work nails loose so that boards no longer attach to their joists or holding battens.
In some cases, nails come loose if they were installed in weak areas of a board, such as in a grained weak spot. Here, the wood isn't strong enough to hold the nail. The board may split or splinter around the nail, removing its anchoring point.
If parts of your decking are affected by moisture or rot, then this can also impact on nails. If the wood around a nail is soft, then the nail won't hold a board down. It will simply spring out of place.
How to Fix Loose Decking Nails
If you're lucky, you can tap the odd protruding nail back in with a hammer. If minor movement made the nail move, putting it back in place may be enough to make it hold firm again. However, this may not give you a long-term solution.
If a nail pulls out once, the chances are this will happen again. It may not fit in its hole anymore, or the wood might not hold it. So, you may find it increasingly harder to get the nail to stay in place.
If you have this problem, then your best option is to work out why your nails are failing. You might also be better off replacing them with specialist screws that give a better hold.
In some cases, some of your decking might need replacement or repair. For example, if some of your boards have moved out of place or have started to rot, then you need to make the surface sound again.
At this stage, it's worth calling out a local decking renovations professional. They can take a look at the problem and propose an effective solution that will keep your boards and nails where they should be in the future.