Wood Deck Refinishing:
Protect Your Investment in Home Equity by Powerwashing and Sealing Your Wood Deck on an Annual Basis
© 2008 by Kelly Smith all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without authors written permission
Winter is here but soon it will be time to put away the sweaters and air out the t-shirts, shorts,
and flip-flops. Well, I guess that depends on where you live. But if the spring flowers havent caught
up to you yet, never fear, they soon will.
With that nice weather comes the opportunity for hanging outside with friends and family. Barbecue,
swimming pool, entertaining, gossiping about that weird couple down the street; the possibilities are
To get ready for all this carefree frivolity, its time to plan to protect your investment by
or your pool deck.
Your Deck will Age
Since the deck lives outdoors, its going to age and change appearance (graying) because of the
suns ultraviolet rays (UV). The general effect here is the breakdown of the wooden surface fibers
For the curious Lignin: A complex polymer, the chief non-carbohydrate constituent of wood,
that binds to cellulose fibers and hardens and strengthens the cell walls of plants. OK!
Any traffic on the deck surface will exacerbate this process. But although its a fact that the
deck will age, refinishing is easy. It also gives you an excellent opportunity to change the look, in that
you can change the stain color.
How often will you need to refinish your deck? This depends on several factors; there are no hard and fast
rules. It depends on such things as the quality of the existing finish, the severity of the weather, the
amount of traffic it gets, and whether you have a cat that insists on using it for a scratching surface.
(Yes, theres a cure for this, but we wont go into it here.)
Preparing the Deck Surface for Interim Cleaning
There are two methods of preparing the deck surface depending on whether your goal is cleaning or
refinishing. For a small deck, you might want to use a mixture of warm water and laundry detergent with a
stiff brush on a broom.
To keep the soapy mixture from leeching in, keep it rinsed off with a garden hose fitted with a
high pressure sprayer. This is a good approach for an interim cleaning where a full refinish is not yet
Dont forget to get down on your knees and knock out all the decaying leaves and other crud that has
lodged between the deck boards. Otherwise, this is a breeding ground for rot, mildew,etc.
Preparing for an In-Depth Deck Refinishing
For a in-depth refinish, use a power washer that delivers about 1,200 PSI of blasting power. The idea is
not to tattoo the deck surface; start out easy and bump the power up until youre effective yet not
Safety disclaimer Always use goggles and rubber work boots.
Note If the decking is Trex or some other composite decking material, a pressure washer is not
Yes, the Weather Forecast Matters
Before getting started on this project, check the weather forecast. You dont want to see any
rain in the next few days because thats how long you'll need to let it dry prior to applying the new
finish. (Some manufacturers allow applying finish to a damp deck; I dont like the idea.)
As you blast the surface, do a section at a time, working with the grain. Overlap the sections to get
The power washer treatment should have gotten rid of all or most of the surface discoloration. If some
is still apparent, use an acid-based deck restoration product or deck bleach and carefully follow
Choosing the New Deck Finish
Some deck owners choose to apply deck paint. My personal response? A resounding Bleah!
Its downright ugly. But thats just my opinion. And functionally speaking, this just makes for a
surface coat which will chip off and not protect as well.
But the deeper reason (pun intended), is that a quality deck finish soaks into the wood, giving an
extra measure of protection and revitalizing the surface wood cells. When making your selection, look for
If you want to add a tint, be sure the finish is a tintable base.
- It should contain a mildew-resistant component (mildewcide).
- Look for superior UV protection.
- Make sure its waterproof or water repellant. Water resistant just aint the
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