How to Treat Old Wood

Kevin Mclain

The treating process of old wood consists of cleaning and sealing. Years of wear and tear can have a significant effect on older wooden materials. Old wood materials that are outside of the home can fade faster because of the sun and weather elements.

Older wooden decks and patios generally get more exposure to the sun and outside elements. Once the wood has faded, it also becomes unprotected from the outside elements. Older wood needs to be treated once a year to maximize the protection to the wood.

  1. Remove any debris or dirt from the old wood by using a broom or a clean rag. If the old wood is a deck or patio, use the broom. If the old wood is a smaller piece of material, use a soft bristled brush. Remove all of the dirt from the surface of the wood.

  2. Rinse down the surface of the old wood with a water hose. Fill a 5-gallon bucket with dishwashing liquid and clean water. Scrub the entire wood surface down with a scrub brush or a soft bristle brush. Rinse off the wood surface with the water hose.

  3. Sprinkle the trisodium phosphate all over the entire wood surface while it is still wet. The purpose of the trisodium phosphate is to absorb into the grain of the wood and remove any acids from the old wood. This process is important so that the wood sealer can absorb farther into the wood. Use the scrub brush or the soft bristled brush to scrub the trisodium phosphate into the wood.

  4. Wash the trisodium phosphate off of the wooden surface with a water hose. Wait for the wood to completely dry before adding the tinted wood sealer to the wood. The tinted wood sealer works better at treating old wood because it filters out sun rays, absorbs deeper into the wood and brings out the color in the old wood.

  5. Fill a garden sprayer with the tinted wood sealer. Spray the entire wooden surface with the wood sealer. Use paint brushes to add the wood sealer around hard-to-reach areas. Wait a couple of hours or longer for the wood sealer to dry and add another coat if desired to reach the color of the wood that you are looking for.

  6. Tip

    Most all wood sealers will have a recommended amount of drying time on the back of the container. Apply wood sealer to old wood at least once a year. The trisodium phosphate can be found at most all hardware stores and home improvement stores.


    Do not pressure-wash old wood. This can result in damage to the wood.