Refinishing a deck, or simply cleaning the deck’s surface, can make a dramatic difference in its appearance. Here are expert directions for cleaning, removing stains, restoring, and applying a new wood deck finish.
A new wood deck provides a warm, handsome connection with the outdoors, adding to a home’s beauty and setting the stage for a world of outdoor activities. But decks take a lot of abuse, both from use and through continued exposure to weather. After a few years, without proper care, they become weathered and uninviting.
Fortunately, most deck surface problems are cosmetic, not structural, because decking is built of durable woods, usually redwood, cedar, or pressure-treated pine. Redwood and cedar heartwoods have a natural resistance to termites and decay; pine is pressure-treated with a pesticide to give it insect- and decay-blocking power.
Even so, ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun breaks down surface fibers and lignin, causing graying and surface erosion. Moisture encourages surface mildew and causes stains, particularly in damp or humid climates where surfaces never completely dry. And natural extractives in redwood and cedar can discolor the surface.
The road to restoring a deck’s great looks is usually simple, regardless of the type of wood. First, you clean it, and then you diagnose and treat any discoloration. Last, you protect the result with a durable finish.
If you’re working on a deck that is above a usable area, such as a second-story deck above a patio, before beginning be sure to protect the area below it with plastic sheeting or dropcloths.
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