Even high-quality decks eventually need at least some minor repairs to keep them looking fabulous. Decks get hit with all kind of weather year-round. They’re going to look a little worn. Problems that present should be dealt with quickly before they grow into larger and more expensive nuisances.
Here are nine easy steps on how to repair a weathered deck:
1. Replace Popped Nails on the Deck
As seasonal temperatures fluctuate, wood contracts. The holes made by nails get larger. Over time, nails will start to loosen and pop out. If left unaddressed, this could one day cause a complete collapse. Take a visual inspection.
Look at any floor planks that may feel wobbly. Ease out any nails with a nail puller or claw hammer and replace them. Keep your deck strong.
2. Replace Damaged or Broken Boards
The next step to repair a weathered deck is to replace any damaged or broken boars. Rainwater and melted snow that pools on your deck will likely over time cause wood rot. The cracking and splintering eventually leads to boards breaking.
The only fix for rot is a full-on replacement. Ensure you’ve measured all the pieces you need accurately. Order the same thickness and type of wood as your existing plants to ensure everything matches.
3. Inspect Your Deck’s Replacement Boards
When you install replacement boards on your deck, they may appear larger and of a different shade. The size you don’t have to worry about – as long as you’ve measured them accurately – because they will shrink over time. In terms of look, you don’t want to go ahead and stain your deck in its entirety.
This won’t produce a uniform look because the fibers in your old boards have softened over time, becoming grayer and more porous. A simple staining won’t work.
4. Get Your Entire Deck to Look the Same
To get the finish to match the rest of your deck, use a wood cleaning product and pressure-wash the surface of all your boards. Use the lowest setting on the pressure-washer to avoid damage. This will strip them down to their bare essential look.
Leave them time to dry. Once ready, sand them lightly and then use a wood brightener. Once this step’s complete, all that’s left is to apply a high-quality semi-transparent wood stain. Let everything dry thoroughly.
5. Scrape Down to Bare Wood
Decks get covered with a lot of muck over the months and years they’re outside. There could be a myriad of things covering the wood. Take a paint scraper and ensure any damage gets scrapped down to the bare wood. Then, use a stiff bristle brush to remove any flaking stain or debris.
Never use a metal bristle brush on a cedar or redwood deck as the metal bristles could cause marks on the wood. Why we need bare wood is because any stain, brightener, or deck product you apply is designed to work on wood – not on all the guck that gathers over top it.
6. Apply Back-Brushing for Your Deck
Back-brushing uses a paint brush to work your deck finish product into the end grain, seams, and gaps between the boards. As you would applying finish any other way, avoid pooling the liquid. Seams and gaps between boards are hit-and-miss when it comes to applying a finish with a sprayer or roller. To ensure you’re getting it everywhere, back-brushing is really needed on most decks.
7. Address the Cause of Your Weathered Deck
While some weathering is likely, a large amount of wood rot shouldn’t happen. This only occurs when the wood is untreated, if you have debris gathering between boards, if there’s standing water, or termites. All of these are major causes for concern and will require more than simply replacing rotting boards and re-staining the finish.
Ensure your deck is equipped with a water-resistant coating, that it is level so that no pooling occurs, and if there’s a termite infestation, eliminate them and carefully monitor the quality of the wood in the months and years ahead.
Sometimes, your weathered deck may have deteriorated to a point that the repair costs may exceed a full replacement. If you’re weighing your options, consult with a professional deck builder to figure out whether you should repair or replace the decks.
8. Revive Old Wood with Boiled Linseed Oil
Recently, many DIY deck owners have used boiled linseed oil – aka flaxseed oil – to treat their decking. If there’s nothing functionally wrong with your deck and it’s simply looking a little tired, try this. Mix a 50/50 solution of boiled linseed oil and turpentine. Sand your deck down lightly with 120-grit sandpaper.
Expose those pores! Apply the linseed oil-turpentine mixture with a rag. Use liberally. This will penetrate into the wood and soak in after a few minutes. Wipe away any excess. All it takes is one coat to leave your deck looking spectacular. From there, you can prime and paint.
9. Replace the Deck
Wood decks have a life expectancy of 20-25 years on average. Some last shorter and others longer. What you decide for your deck should come down to its appearance and safety. At a certain point, a full replacement is what’s needed but you may be surprised at what can be accomplished just by sanding it down and applying a new coat of finish. Follow these tips to achieve a safe, stunning deck.