How to Renovate a Weathered Deck

Within a year or two, the sun's ultraviolet radiation makes the wood on most decks turn some degree of gray.

This color change affects only a very thin top layer of the wood, so it doesn't compromise your deck's strength and durability. If you want to brighten up your deck's appearance, though, here are some things you can do.

Clean your deck thoroughly, following the steps outlined in How to Remove Deck Stains. Regular cleaning alone will do a lot to keep up your deck's looks.

Check your deck boards for rot, splintering, long cracks, cupping and twisting. Replace any decking that has serious structural problems (see How to Replace Damaged Deck Boards).

Sand the deck if needed to smooth rough spots or remove old stain. Use a belt sander for spot sanding or a floor sander for an entire deck. Make sure all nail heads are below the surface or the sandpaper will catch and tear. Begin sanding across the wood's grain, then diagonally, and finish by going with the grain.

To brighten a newly cleaned deck, make a mixture of 4 oz. (125 g) oxalic acid crystals per gallon (4 l) of warm water, or buy a commercial deck brightener.

Apply the brightener to the deck with a sponge, mop, nylon brush or garden sprayer. Be sure to wear rubber gloves and safety goggles; you should also cover any nearby plants that might be affected by the acid.

To increase your deck's resistance to water and to stabilize its color, you have a few choices. The first is a clear sealer. Apply according to the manufacturer's instructions; you'll need to reapply every one to two years.

A second option: Apply a semitransparent stain. This will allow most of the wood's beauty to show through; it will need to be reapplied every two to four years.

Another choice is to apply a solid stain. This will cover up much of the wood's natural appearance, but if your deck has some unattractive or slightly mismatched replacement boards, it will give a more consistent appearance.

Things You Will Need

  • Deck Sealer Or Stain
  • Oxalic Acid Crystals Or Commercial Deck Brightener
  • Plastic Drop Cloths
  • Belt Or Floor Sander
  • Dust Mask
  • Rubber Gloves And Safety Goggles
  • Sponge, mop, nylon brush or garden sprayer

Tips

  • If you actually like a weathered look so much that you want to accelerate the graying process, mix up a solution of one 16-oz. (500 g) box of baking soda, 1 gallon (4 l) water and a little dish detergent. Mop it on the deck, let it sit for 15 minutes, rinse and repeat.
  • A regular paint finish is usually a poor choice for a deck. Deck boards expand and contract in different seasons and weather; this is likely to cause cracks in the paint on their surface.

Warning

  • Always wear a dust mask when sanding pressure-treated wood.