Steps // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck
1 ×

Overview to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

 
Step One // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

Overview to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

illustration of the steps involved in reviving a beat-up deck
Illustration by Gregory Nemec

Day-to-Day Timeline:
Day 1: Strip, sand, and clean the deck (Steps 2–10).
Day 2: Apply two coats of resurfacer (Steps 11–18)

1. Fix boards to prep the deck
2. Protect the surroundings
3. Apply the stripper
4. Work in the stripper
5. Rinse off the stripper
6. Sand the seck
7. Test the surface
8. Wash the deck
9. Rinse off the detergent
10. Fill cracks to prep for paint
11. Coat the balusters
12. Cut in
13. Fill in the field with paint
14. Break the film
15. Cover problem areas
16. Apply the finish coat, filling any cracks
17. Optional: Back brush the rails to smooth the finish

 
2 ×

Fix Boards to Prep the Deck

 
Step Two // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

Fix Boards to Prep the Deck

TOH technical editor Mark Powers hammering a wide-head nailset into a
Photo by Laura Moss

Inspect your deck for rot. Remove any damaged deck boards and cut off the rotted portion—all the way back to the centerline of the nearest joist. Use deck screws to reattach the good end, then cut a piece of like decking to fill the gap, and screw it to the joists. Check the handrails and balusters, and replace any damaged sections. Use the 5-in-1 tool to remove large splinters. Reset raised nailheads with the nailset and hammer, as shown.

 
3 ×

Protect the Surroundings

 
Step Three // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

Protect the Surroundings

TOH technical editor Mark Powers taping plastic up over the lower section of siding on a house so he can revive weathered and aged deck boards
Photo by Laura Moss

Tape plastic sheeting over the siding from the deck up to about waist height. Cover or remove anything beneath the deck as well. Use the garden hose to soak plants and shrubs around the deck so that they'll absorb less of the potentially harmful runoff during stripping and cleaning.

 
4 ×

Apply the Stripper to Remove the Finish

 
Step Four // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

Apply the Stripper to Remove the Finish

power sprayer being used to apply stripper to weathered and aged deck boards
Photo by Laura Moss

Regardless of how desiccated your deck boards may look—and even if they've never been stained—they need to be stripped for this product to stick. Fill the pump sprayer with the recommended stripper and suit up with protective gear, including goggles and rubber boots and gloves. Working in 20-square-foot sections, saturate the deck boards and handrails.

 
5 ×

Work in the Stripper

 
Step Five // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

Work in the Stripper

person in rubber boots using a push broom to work stripper into weathered and aged deck boards to revive them
Photo by Laura Moss

Let the stripper stand for 15 minutes. Then use a push broom or brush with synthetic bristles to work the stripper into the coated areas. Watch your footing—it's slippery in rubber boots.

 
6 ×

Rinse it Off

 
Step Six // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

Rinse it Off

toh technical editor mark powers using a power sprayer rinse the stripper off the weathered and aged deck boards to revive them
Photo by Laura Moss

Install a 40-degree fan tip on the pressure washer, and set it to spray between 1,500 and 2,500 psi for pressure-treated wood. Wearing your protective gear, work from an inside corner outward, using long, controlled strokes to push the stripper off the ends of the boards. Keep the tip about 6 inches from the wood's surface, and repeat several times until the runoff changes from foamy to clear.

 
7 ×

Sand the Deck

 
Step Seven // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

Sand the Deck

toh technical editor mark powers using a sanding pole and 50-grit paper to roughly scuff the weathered and aged deck boards to revive them
Photo by Laura Moss

Once the wood has dried, don a dust mask and use the sanding pole and 50-grit paper to roughly scuff the entire surface of the deck, including the handrail and balusters. Always sand with the grain. Sweep off any dust.

 
8 ×

Test the Surface

 
Step Eight // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

Test the Surface

closeup of toh technical editor mark powers's hands pouring a little water onto the freshly sanded surface to test the absorbancy of the surface of the weathered and aged deck boards to revive them
Photo by Laura Moss

To check for any residual sealants, pour a capful or two of water on different surface areas—high traffic and low traffic, shady and sunny, exposed and covered, new and old. The water should soak into the wood quickly, in less than a minute. If it beads up, you'll need to strip and sand those areas again, then redo the water test.

 
9 ×

Wash the Deck

 
Step Nine // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

Wash the Deck

toh technical editor mark powers using a push broom and power-sprayer to apply deck-cleaning detergent to remove any residual stripper, dust, and oils from the weathered and aged deck boards to revive them
Photo by Laura Moss

This may seem like overkill, but it's important to remove any remaining stripper, dust, and oils from the surface that could interfere with adhesion. Fill the pump sprayer with deck-cleaning detergent and the appropriate ratio of water, according to the directions. Spray the mixture on the deck and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Then work it in with the push broom, as shown.

 
10 ×

Rinse the Deck

 
Step Ten // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

Rinse the Deck

toh technical editor mark powers using a power-washer to clean off any remaining deck-cleaning detergent from the weathered and aged deck boards to revive them
Photo by Laura Moss

Use the pressure washer with its 40-degree tip to rinse the deck with plain water. Now let the deck dry overnight.

 
11 ×

Fill Cracks to Prep for Paint

 
Step Eleven // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

Fill Cracks to Prep for Paint

toh technical editor mark powers using a caulk gun to  fill any gouges, holes, and cracks deeper or wider than one quarter inch to prepare the weathered and aged deck boards to revive them
Photo by Laura Moss

Once the wood is dry, fill any gouges, holes, and cracks deeper or wider than ¼ inch with a paintable acrylic caulk. Use a putty knife to scrape off the excess, then allow the caulk to set until it skins over, probably 30 minutes.

 
12 ×

Coat the Balusters

 
Step Twelve // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

Coat the Balusters

toh technical editor mark powers using a brush to coat all the vertical surfaces with the solid-color stain to revive a weathered and aged deck
Photo by Laura Moss

Use a small roller or a brush to coat all the vertical surfaces with the solid-color stain. If your deck requires more than one gallon, it's a good idea to combine equal parts from multiple cans to ensure the color is evenly mixed. Once the stain dries, look for any missed gaps or cracks, fill them with caulk, and restain them when the caulk is dry.

 
13 ×

Cut In

 
Step Thirteen // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

Cut In

toh technical editor mark powers using a the paintbrush to work the stain into the gaps between deck boards to revive a weathered and aged deck
Photo by Laura Moss

Before coating the deck, use the paintbrush to work the stain into the gaps between deck boards, which will be hard to reach with the thick resurfacing paint.

 
14 ×

Fill in the Field with Paint

 
Step Fourteen // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

Fill in the Field with Paint

toh technical editor mark powers using a heavily saturated Restore roller cover and slight pressure to push a bead of the paint ahead of the roller into the surface cracks to revive a weathered and aged deck
Photo by Laura Moss

Use the corded drill/driver and a stout mixing paddle to thoroughly mix the resurfacing paint, blending batches if you have more than one. Working from a back corner, use a heavily saturated Restore roller cover and slight pressure to push a bead of the paint ahead of the roller into the surface cracks—in one direction only. Note: Using a thick-napped roller will not work. Do not roll back and forth, as it will peel up the coating.

 
15 ×

Break the Film

 
Step Fifteen // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

Break the Film

toh technical editor mark powers using a 5-in-1 tool to break the film along the gaps between boards to revive a weathered and aged deck
Photo by Laura Moss

The coating is so thick that it will span the gap between boards on most decks. Run the 5-in-1 tool along the gap to break the film, letting the excess drip down along the edges. Allow the first coat to dry for 4 to 6 hours. When the surface is no longer tacky, start the second coat.

 
16 ×

Cover Problem Areas

 
Step Sixteen // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

Cover Problem Areas

toh technical editor mark powers using a  a small roller and go across the width of the board to apply the coating and revive a weathered and aged deck
Photo by Laura Moss

For cupped boards, use a small roller and go across the width of the board to apply the coating.

 
17 ×

Apply the finish coat, Filling Any Cracks

 
Step Seventeen // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

Apply the finish coat, Filling Any Cracks

toh technical editor mark powers repeating the process with the finish coat to revive a weathered and aged deck
Photo by Laura Moss

Apply the finish coat in the same manner, covering all the flat surfaces. Take care to fill any visible fissures and cracks in boards.

Tip: Using a 4-inch roller on the second pass does a nice job of filling any remaining cracks because it fits perfectly between the edges of the boards.

 
18 ×

Smooth the Finish

 
Step Eighteen // How to Revive a Beat-Up Deck

Smooth the Finish

toh technical editor mark powers using a chip brush to back-brush the second coat while it's still wet to smooth out the surface and revive a weathered and aged deck
Photo by Laura Moss

Optional: If you want a less textured finish on the handrails, use the chip brush to back-brush the second coat while it's still wet. Now comes the hardest part: Allow the finish coat to dry for at least 24 hours before walking on it, and four days before placing any furniture. Oh, and don't let it rain for 48 hours after you finish.

 

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