Pulling up the suspect boards reveals what lies under the steps. Note that the steps are supported by old railway ties, presumably salvaged from the adjacent Southern Pacific Railroad. Some of the boards were effectively only being held by their own weight, as screws were missing or ineffectual.
Here's what one of the boards Lisa pulled up looked like on the underside. The others were similarly flawed. They were not necessarily in immediate danger of failing, but they were all cracked in different ways, and there's no real telling how much wear they still had in them.
Lisa cut boards to fit and screwed them into the railway ties.
Because of the banister supports, one of the boards had to be cut shorter than the others. This picture also gives a good view of what the remaining boards look like before painting started.
Lisa ran out of wood screws part way through the process, so we had to run to Lowe's to buy more. She spent the early afternoon securing the boards and also replacing screws in boards that aren't being replaced, but whose wood screws had worked their way loose. Lisa drilled new holes and drove new screws so the porch boards don't flex quite as much as they did.
Then it was time to start painting. Because we still need to be able to get in and out of the house, Lisa could only do half of the porch today, and chose to do the south end, which was more worn because it gets sun year-round and more traffic in general.
What a difference a new coat of paint makes.
The top front rail looks much better as well. I had to be careful to avoid touching it while moving around taking these pictures.
Here's what the south steps, including the newly-replaced boards, look like with a generous coat of paint.
Using some of what was left of this first gallon of paint, Lisa repainted the lid of the wood box, whose paint I ruined while de-scaling the swamp cooler.
Weather permitting, Lisa hopes to finish the porch tomorrow, painting the north side and steps. That should give it a few hours to dry before things get cold again on Friday and before the predicted possible snow on Sunday.
Lisa got a whole bunch accomplished today. If all goes as planned, we should be able to get the small porchtop wood box into place before the snow arrives. The place where that box sits during the cold months (at left in the last photo above) is where I've been sitting to watch the birds and bunnies (and chipmunks) in the adjoining lot.