Does your new neighbor Ron seem like Mr. Fix-it? Always with the greenest, evenest grass? Or the biggest, brightest Christmas decorations? Or even worse, the nicest deck in the neighborhood?
Prove him wrong. Show your yard is better. And the best place to start? Making your deck look good as new.
- Find the flaws.
The very first step to restoring your wood deck is making sure everything is in good condition. You’ll need to find any rusty, sticking up screws or nails, then replace them. Also, check where it connects to the house and ground because these are very important areas to keep clean and strong. You’ll also need to check the planks. Find any that are rotting, warping or coming up.
You’ll need to replace a lot of these because no matter how much stain you add, they will still be a problem. You also need to check the posts that connect the deck to the ground. Any moisture that gets stuck in these can really cause some problems.
- Get it clean.
Once you have everything in a serviceable condition, get it clean. Clean off any leaves, dead grass, mold or mildew, sap from trees or literally anything else in the way.
You can do this with very simple equipment. Get a broom or air blower for the small things like dust. But for the hard things like old stain, paint, or tree sap, you may need to use a pressure washer.
A word about pressure washing
You can hire out the job if you think pressure washing is in order. The cost won’t likely be too high, and there’s something comforting about leaving it to the experts.
If you decide to save a few bucks and do-it yourself, you can rent a pressure washer (often about $40 for a four-hour rental, though that will depend on where you live).
You’ll also need to be mindful of some critical tips. First, remember that a pressure watcher has the power to etch brick so it can really hurt your wood if you’re not careful. Don’t use too much jet pressure or get the tip of your wand too close to the deck. Otherwise, you could etch the surface of your wood and leave lasting damage.
The pressure you use will depend on the composition of your deck. If it’s made of a soft wood like cedar or pine, keep pressure at about 500 to 600 pounds psi (per square inch.) For harder woods, you can take the pressure up a bit, but don’t exceed 1,200 psi.
You’ll also want to make sure to use the right tip. We recommend a fan tip that has a spread of about 40 to 60 degrees. A rotating tip works as well.
Pick a section of the deck that is hidden from view to test out your pressure. If you find that you accidentally etch the wood, you’ll know to dial things back.
Once you are confident that you have the right pressure, push the trigger while holding the tip of the wand approximately 24 inches from the surface that you are pressure washing, then lower it to about 12 inches from the surface. Clean the deck with a sweeping motion by moving your arm slowly back and forth.
- Sand it.Let it dry for several days before you sand, and double-check for any screws or nails sticking up, so you don’t ruin your sander.The main reason for sanding, as you probably know, is to prevent splinters. If you’re using new planks in your deck, there’s a good chance someone will get a half-inch splinter in their foot while running along it, but even if you’re not using new slats, it’s a good idea. When wood gets wet, like from pressure-washing, it will cause it to expand, which can also increase the chance of splinters.
- Get the stain on it.Once everything is smooth and clean, choose your stain. This completely depends on the wood you have. Older decks may need something that brings back the color it used to have while newer decks may still look good and could use something else. Either way, a lot of people recommend using semi-transparent stains to give the wood a little more protection from the sun.To apply it, read the instructions on the can. Just a heads up, there are several ways to get it on. Some recommend using a spray while others recommend using brushes or rollers. This is up to you and what you have, just be careful because some stains may hurt nearby plants or damage your skin.Once it’s on your deck, get rid of puddles. If you don’t, it won’t look even when it dries.
Remember: your deck needs to be dry before you apply the new coating. If there’s water in the wood, it will prevent the stain from soaking in properly.
- Wait.Once you’re done with all the steps above, wait a couple of days before having fun on your deck again. You need to make sure everything soaks in and looks nice before you put your furniture on and start grilling again.
Now that your residential deck is nice and new-looking as any in Colorado, people will finally stop talking about pesky, do-it-yourself Ron. Yours is the new house to brag about.