How To Refinish A Deck


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If your wooden deck shows signs of wear and weathering, embarking on a refinishing journey can bring new life into it. While refinishing a deck may seem daunting, it’s an achievable do-it-yourself home improvement project with a touch of elbow grease. This step-by-step guide will walk you through how to refinish a deck, providing the tools, techniques, and insights needed for a successful transformation.

Why Refinish A Deck

Refinishing a deck is a crucial undertaking born out of the challenges that outdoor decks invariably face due to their continuous exposure to the elements. Rain, sun, snow, and fluctuating temperatures can take a toll on even the most well-constructed decks, leading to warping, cracking, and discoloration.

Refinishing is a powerful defense against these challenges, offering an array of benefits extending far beyond the surface. By refinishing, homeowners can effectively prevent wood rot and decay, ensuring their deck’s integrity and safety.

Moreover, applying quality stains and sealants shields the wood from harmful UV rays, which can cause fading and premature aging. Beyond the practical advantages, refinishing also offers the chance to revive the deck’s aesthetics, transforming it into a vibrant and inviting outdoor oasis. 

Whether for family gatherings, relaxation, or entertainment, a well-refinished deck becomes an essential home extension, enhancing both its value and the quality of outdoor living.

Best Time To Refinish A Deck

To refinish your deck, it is recommended to do so during dry weather when temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. This ensures that rainy or humid conditions do not affect application and drying time. 

Late spring, summer, or early fall are considered ideal times for refinishing. However, working in direct sunlight should be avoided as it can cause the products to dry too quickly. It is also advisable to schedule about 2-3 days to work on the deck without needing to use it.

This will allow ample time for the products to dry and settle appropriately before using the deck again. Proper planning and timing can help ensure a successful deck refinishing project that will improve its appearance and longevity.

What You’ll Need

Here are the basic tools and materials you’ll need:


  • Pressure washer
  • Cleaning solution or wood brightener
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint roller and extension pole
  • Paint tray
  • Orbital sander
  • Sandpaper
  • Dust mask
  • Safety goggles
  • Work gloves


  • Exterior deck cleaner or brightener
  • Exterior wood stain, paint, or sealer
  • Paint thinner (if using oil-based products)
  • Bucket
  • Drop cloths
  • Painters tape

Make sure to use products specifically designed for exterior wood. Test stain colors on inconspicuous areas first.

How To Refinish A Deck

Refinishing your deck can breathe new life into your outdoor space, making it a welcoming retreat once again. Follow these steps for a successful deck refinishing project:

1. Clearing and Preparing the Deck

Before you begin the refinishing process, preparing the deck properly is essential.

Clear the deck of all furniture, potted plants, and other items. This will give you ample space to work and prevent any obstacles.

Use a broom to sweep away loose dirt and debris. After sweeping, thoroughly wash the deck with a cleaner or a mixture of mild detergent and water. This will remove any grime and prepare the wood for the next steps.

Inspect the deck for any damaged or rotten boards. Replace these boards to ensure a sturdy and safe deck. If the damage is minimal, you might be able to repair the boards by tightening screws or nails.

2. Sanding and Smoothing

Sanding is essential to achieve a uniform finish for any new coating. It helps remove old stains, paint, and rough spots on the surface. 

To start sanding, it is recommended to use coarse grit sandpaper that can effectively remove the old finish and imperfections. Once the coarse grit sandpaper is done, switch to finer grit sandpaper to achieve a smoother surface. 

You can choose to sand by hand using a sanding block for smaller areas, while larger sections may require a power sander. While sanding, it’s essential to avoid damaging the surface by sanding in the direction of the wood grain. 

This technique helps prevent any scratches or marks on the surface, resulting in a smooth and even finish. Sanding is an important part of any refinishing project and can significantly improve the overall appearance of furniture or woodwork.

3. Cleaning and Brightening the Wood

Cleaning and brightening the wood will enhance the final appearance of your deck:

  • Applying a Deck Cleaner: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to apply a deck cleaner. Scrub the surface with a stiff brush to remove dirt, mold, and mildew.
  • Brightening the Wood’s Appearance: After cleaning, use a wood brightener to restore the natural color of the wood. This step also prepares the wood to absorb the new finish better.
  • Scrubbing and Rinsing Techniques: Scrubbing may require a bit of elbow grease. Once done, rinse the deck thoroughly with clean water to remove all traces of cleaner and brightener.

4. Staining or Sealing the Deck

When it comes to finishing wood, there are a few options to choose from. A clear sealer is perfect for showcasing the natural beauty of the wood, while a semi-transparent stain can add color. If you’re looking for more coverage, a solid color stain or paint is the way to go. 

You can use brushes, rollers, or sprayers when applying the finish. Remember to start from the far end and work towards the exit to avoid painting yourself into a corner. 

Coverage is an essential aspect of finishing wood. Make sure to pay attention and avoid leaving any uneven patches on the surface. Overlapping each pass slightly can help you achieve a consistent finish. 

Finally, keep in mind that different finishes require different maintenance procedures. Be sure to research and follow proper care instructions for your chosen finish to ensure its longevity and optimal appearance.

5. Additional Tips for a Professional Finish

For that extra touch of excellence, consider these tips:

  • Applying Multiple Coats: To enhance protection and longevity, consider applying two or more finish coats. Allow each coat to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Introducing Creative Elements: Get creative with your deck’s appearance. Consider using stencils or patterns to add a unique touch to the design.
  • Blending New and Old Sections: If you’re refinishing a part of the deck while leaving some areas untouched, take care to blend the new and old sections seamlessly for a uniform look.

By following these steps, you can turn your worn-out deck into a stunning outdoor space that you’ll enjoy for years to come.

Maintenance and Tips For Your Refinished Deck

In today’s modern homes, maximizing space has become a top priority. When it comes to kitchen design, incorporating space-saving solutions can make a significant difference. Kitchen sink cabinets are vital in terms of functionality and aesthetics; innovative techniques can help create a more efficient and beautiful sp

Establishing a proper maintenance routine is crucial to ensure the longevity and beauty of your newly refinished deck. Here’s how to care for your refinished deck:

Establishing a Regular Maintenance Routine: Keep your deck free from dirt, leaves, and debris by sweeping it regularly. This prevents the accumulation of materials that can scratch or damage the finish. Periodically inspect your deck for signs of wear, loose boards, or water damage. Address any issues promptly to prevent them from worsening. Trim any nearby plants or shrubs to prevent them from brushing against the deck. This helps prevent moisture buildup and potential damage to the finish.

Protecting the Deck from Harsh Weather and UV Rays: During severe weather or winter months, consider using covers to protect your deck furniture and plants. This prevents them from scratching or damaging the finish. Placing outdoor rugs or mats in high-traffic areas can help protect the finish from excessive wear and tear. If possible, install shade structures like umbrellas, awnings, or pergolas to reduce the direct exposure of your deck to harsh sunlight.

Tips for Cleaning, Resealing, and Preventing Future Wear: Regular cleaning and occasional resealing are crucial to maintaining your deck’s appearance and durability:

1. Wash your deck with a gentle mixture of mild detergent and water at least once a year. Avoid using harsh chemicals that can damage the finish.

2. If your deck becomes heavily soiled, you can use a pressure washer with a low-pressure nozzle. Maintain a safe distance to prevent damaging the wood.

3. Depending on the type of finish you applied, you may need to reseal your deck every 2-3 years. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.

4. Place furniture pads under the legs of your outdoor furniture to prevent scratches and gouges. Encourage guests to avoid dragging heavy items across the deck.

5. In colder climates, refrain from using deicing chemicals on your deck during winter, as these can harm the finish and the wood.


Refinishing a weathered deck is a rewarding DIY project that revitalizes both the appearance and longevity of your outdoor space. By following the step-by-step guide outlined above, you can transform your worn deck into a vibrant and inviting oasis.

Remember to choose the right weather conditions for refinishing, gather the necessary tools and materials, and diligently complete each stage, from cleaning and sanding to staining or sealing. With regular maintenance and proper care, your refinished deck will stand as a durable, inviting haven for years to come, adding value to your home and enhancing your outdoor living experience.

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