How to Make an Old Weathered Deck Look New Again

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How to Make an Old Weathered Deck Look New Again

You want your outdoor deck to be a top-selling feature of your property – not an eyesore. Unfortunately, all decks can start to wear over time, leading to discoloration, peeling, and deterioration. 

If you want your deck to look healthy and new consistently, it needs regular maintenance. Protective measures will safeguard its beauty and help it live longer, which means you get to enjoy your outdoor space more.

Wondering how to restore a weathered deck? That happens to be our area of expertise. 

In this blog post, we’re diving into a step-by-step guide to revitalizing old, worn-out decks – specifically in Southern California’s mild climate. 

Here’s what you need to do. 

Step 1: Assess the Damage

Assess the damage on the deck

Despite the temperate weather conditions in SoCal, outdoor spaces are still subject to environmental challenges. Before you start your deck restoration, you’ll need to identify where it’s deteriorating and what’s causing the problem(s).  

Common Signs of Deck Wear and Tear

✓ Fading and Discoloration

The relentless California sunshine can cause your deck’s materials to fade and lose their color. As UV rays penetrate wood and composite materials, they detract from their original vibrancy, resulting in a worn-out-looking deck. 

✓ Cracks and Splinters

Moisture, combined with even small temperature variations, can result in visible cracks and splinters on deck surfaces. These imperfections don’t just compromise the deck’s visual aesthetics – they also pose safety hazards.

✓ Mold and Mildew 

Southern California can be quite humid at times. This creates an ideal environment for mold and mildew growth, which can mar the appearance of the deck. If left unchecked, these issues can also lead to structural problems.

✓ Salt Air Corrosion

Coastal decks are particularly prone to salt air corrosion, a result of the proximity to the ocean. This can corrode metal fasteners and compromise the wood’s structural integrity.

Conducting a Thorough Inspection

Begin the restoration process by visually inspecting the deck’s surface for signs of discoloration, cracks, or splinters. Pay attention to areas often exposed to direct sunlight – those are likely in the worst shape. 

Afterward, assess the deck’s structural integrity. Focus on the support posts, joists, and beams. Are there soft spots that indicate rot? Do you see signs of mold or mildew growth? 

Lastly, examine the fasteners and connections for signs of corrosion. You’ll want to replace any corroded fasteners promptly to prevent further damage during the restoration process.

Step 2: Clean and Prepare the Surface

Pressure washing deck's surface

The next step is to thoroughly clean your wood deck in preparation for sealing. You want to start with a clean slate, quite literally, to ensure you’re tackling any stains and contaminants upfront.

We don’t recommend simply slathering your deck in soap and water. You need to approach the cleaning with tact and strategy – and that starts with using the right products. 

Choosing Deck Cleaning Agents

Different types of wood decks demand different cleaning solutions. For hardwoods like teak or ipe, gentle, pH-balanced cleaners work best to prevent damage. Softwoods such as cedar or pine may require specialized wood cleaners that cater to their porous nature. 

Additionally, you need to account for the severity of your deck’s stains. A mild detergent may suffice for light dirt, but more stubborn stains may require oxygen bleach or specialized deck cleaners. 

No matter which deck cleaner you wind up using, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and conduct a small test in an inconspicuous area before applying it everywhere. 

Power Washing vs. Manual Scrubbing

Power washing might seem like the fastest way to clean large deck services – and it is. 

However, a word of caution: the high pressure can damage your wood if applied incorrectly, resulting in corrosion and erosion. It can also force water into the deck’s gaps, contributing to structural issues in the future. 

That’s why we recommend manual scrubbing. This offers you greater control over your cleaning pressure and minimizes the risk of damage. Plus, you’ll likely address specific stains with more care. 

Not interested in using elbow grease? You can outsource deck cleaning to professionals who will get the job done quickly and carefully. 

Tips for Removing Mold, Mildew, and Stubborn Stains

Mold on wood decks can manifest in several forms, colors, and textures. Watch out for fuzzy or powdery-looking growth, especially if it’s black, green, brown, or gray. These patches will also likely smell musty or unpleasant. 

If you find mold or mildew on your deck, treat it with a combination of white vinegar and water or with a specialized cleaner. Scrub the affected area with a stiff brush and rinse thoroughly. 

Make sure you’re wearing an N95 mask when treating mold. Breathing in the spores can be dangerous for your health and result in negative reactions. 

For hard-to-tackle oil or grease stains, first absorb the excess oil with a cloth. Then, apply a mixture of baking soda and water. Scrub gently, rinse, and repeat until the stain fades. 

If you’re dealing with rust stains, you’ll likely need an oxalic acid-based cleaning product. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety precautions, scrub the area, and rinse promptly to prevent damage. 

All in all, the key to a successful deck cleaning lies in making informed decisions. Choose cleaning agents based on your deck’s material and stains, and take your time with the process. The cleaner the deck, the better it will look after restoration. 

Step 3: Choose the Right Finish

Selecting the appropriate deck finish is a critical decision in restoring its visual appeal and structural integrity. The finish serves as a protective barrier against the elements, defending the wood against the wear and tear inflicted by weather, UV rays, moisture, and foot traffic. 

There are three kinds of potential finishes for wood decks: 

  1. Sealers are ideal for preserving the natural color of wood, offering a protective layer that repels water and prevents moisture infiltration. They are particularly effective in preventing warping, cracking, and decay.
  1. Stains offer a range of finishes, from transparent to opaque. This allows deck owners to enhance or change the wood’s color while still protecting it. 
  1. Oils nourish the wood from within, enhancing its natural beauty and providing a rich, deep finish. This kind of finish also offers excellent water repellency and is relatively easy to maintain. 

How to Choose the Right Deck Finish

How to choose the right deck finish

✓ Account for Your Deck’s Wood Type 

Different wood species have distinct characteristics. Therefore, your choice of finish should complement the specific traits of your deck’s wood. Hardwoods like teak may benefit from oils, but softwoods like pine may require the protective qualities of a sealer or stain.

✓ Assess the Environmental Risks 

What is your property’s climate like? Does the deck get a lot of exposure to sunlight, or is it often wet? These factors will impact the type of finish you select and its level of protection.

✓ Consider Your Aesthetic Preferences

How do you want your deck to look after it’s finished? If you prefer a natural appearance, a clear sealer or transparent stain might be best. If you’re interested in changing the deck’s color, you may want to explore opaque stains or solid color options.

✓ Pay Attention to Maintenance Requirements 

Transparent sealers and stains can require more frequent reapplication in comparison to solid stains and penetrating oils. So, if you aren’t interested in refinishing the deck often, you might want to opt for a long-lasting solution. 

Choosing the right deck finish is a crucial step. If you’re not sure what kind of finish your wood needs or how to apply it, think about hiring a professional deck sealing team

Step 4: Apply the Finish

Applying finish on deck

How to Finish Your Deck 

To achieve a durable, beautiful deck finish, you must follow a careful application process. 

After cleaning the deck thoroughly and selecting your finish, use a brush, roller, or sprayer to apply the product to the deck’s surface. Work methodically, covering one section at a time to avoid uneven application.

As you apply the finish, make sure you’re brushing, rolling, or spraying in the direction of the wood grain. This will help enhance its natural look and avoid messy streaks. You should also avoid overlapping strokes whenever possible. 

Best Weather Conditions for Sealing a Deck

Fortunately, your deck is in Southern California – and that means most days are good candidates for finishing! 

Still, try to choose a day with mild temperatures and low humidity. Avoid extremely hot or cold days, as rapid drying or freezing can affect the finish’s effectiveness. You’ll also want to avoid finishing in rainy or misty conditions. 

Step 5: Continue Regular Maintenance

Reapply deck sealant

Your work doesn’t stop after restoring the deck to its former glory. Ongoing maintenance is the key to preserving the wood’s beauty and structural integrity over time – hopefully for close to 30 years

Take a proactive approach to safeguarding your investment. Scheduled deck maintenance prevents the gradual wear and tear caused by exposure to weather, sunlight, and foot traffic. When you consistently care for your deck, you extend its lifespan and maintain its aesthetic appeal. 

Routine Maintenance Tasks

  • Cleaning: Regularly remove debris, leaves, and dirt to prevent stains and moisture damage. Periodic sanitization also helps prevent mold and mildew growth. 
  • Inspecting for Damage: Routinely assess your deck for signs of wear, including cracks, splinters, or loose fasteners. You’ll want to address these problems quickly to prevent them from escalating into more significant concerns.
  • Reapplying Finish: Depending on the type of finish you used, plan for periodic reapplication. This helps maintain the deck’s color, prevent water damage, and boost its resiliency. 

Protect Your Restored Deck From Future Damage 

Proactive maintenance acts as a shield. By addressing issues promptly and adhering to a careful routine, you can prevent the gradual onset of problems that caused your deck to look weathered in the first place. 

Step 6: Hire Restoration Professionals (If Needed) 

Do you feel overwhelmed by the intricacies of deck restoration? Are you short on the time needed to complete each step? Consider hiring professional help. 

Wood deck specialists don’t just understand the restoration process – they have all the right tools to treat exotic woods, tackle hard-to-erase stains, and protect your deck for many years to come. 

It’s also a good idea to hire restoration professionals if your deck has experienced above-average wear and tear. Severe structural damage, extensive rot, or widespread discoloration typically requires more extensive care than DIY restoration strategies can offer. 

Contact Teak & Deck Professionals Today

Restored old deck

If your deck has lost its shine or experienced damage, we’re here to help. At Teak & Deck Professionals, we don’t just know how to restore a weathered deck – we know how to preserve its color and integrity for decades to come. 

We’ve been serving California families throughout San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles since 1999. We specialize in deck restoration and maintenance, but we also assist with outdoor furniture care

A wood deck is a wonderful addition to any SoCal home, but only if it is properly cared for and maintained. Don’t let your deck fade and deteriorate – contact our team for a free restoration service quote. 

We have thousands of satisfied local customers, and we guarantee you’ll love your deck’s appearance after we restore it. Get started today!  

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Drew Isaacman

Drew Isaacman is the owner and founder of Teak & Deck Professionals, a leading restoration company specializing in teak, exotic wood, concrete, and stone. With a passion for preserving outdoor assets, Drew has built a team of skilled professionals dedicated to providing exceptional service to clients in San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles. His expertise in wood restoration and refinishing, combined with his commitment to customer satisfaction, has earned Teak & Deck Professionals a reputation for excellence in the industry. Drew's dedication to protecting and revitalizing outdoor spaces ensures that clients can enjoy their valuable assets for years to come.