How to Spruce Up a Worn-Out Deck
There is something intoxicating about new things — from the smell of brand-new cars to the look of just-built decks. Fortunately, recapturing that magic is well within your DIY ability when it comes to your deck.
Check for Damage and Remodel
A deck that looks worn out may be perfectly safe, but it's always best to make sure. Before starting any other projects, check for rotten or damaged wood. You can tell whether wood has rotted by trying to push a screwdriver through it. Replace any damaged wood before proceeding to ensure the structural safety of your deck.
This is a good opportunity to complete any remodeling you might be considering, such as new railings or a deck extension. Think about what has worked well so far and what hasn't. Maybe you need wider stairs or somewhere to put that new hot tub. A few small changes to the deck's design could make it look completely new.
Clean and Strip the Deck
What most people notice first about a worn-out deck is the faded stain. Fixing this requires more than simply painting over or resealing the deck. First, you need to strip away the old stain and clean the deck. Use a paint scraper to remove any stain that is already loose and flaking, then apply a deck stripper. Use a deck cleaner with a bleach base to address any mold or mildew stains before proceeding to a standard deck stripper.
Read and follow the directions carefully. You may also want to read through the stories of a few homeowners who have completed this project themselves, as well as an online tutorial or two — just to get a sense of what the steps look like and a little extra advice.
Apply a New Stain or Sealant
Once your deck has been stripped and cleaned, you can apply a new sealant or stain. Using a log home stain designed to protect wood against even the harshest elements will give you the best results. Brush one board at a time using long, even strokes, and leave a wet edge that you can carry over into your next stroke. Once you are finished, allow two days before walking on or replacing furniture on the deck.
To avoid the worn-out look that led to this project, you may want to apply a stain to the railings, but a clear sealant to the deck boards. The sealant will show less wear from foot traffic.
Add Some Finishing Touches
Once your deck has been properly protected against the elements, add a few finishing touches to complete the new look. Potted plants could liven up the space. Make it more practical for entertaining by adding a dining set or, for a more rustic feel, a fire pit with benches. Choose an eye-catching table centerpiece and set the mood with lighting — especially along any railing and steps.
All that stands between you and a like-new deck is some deck stripper and sealant, a little elbow grease, and a weekend's worth of time.
Featured image via Flickr by redagainPatti