How to Restore a Weathered Deck

Keeping a wood deck in good working order takes effort and time. Even if you seal it, the boards will still twist out of place, and the nail heads will protrude the deck’s surface. These problems are caused by long-term exposure to degrading elements such as water, foot traffic, and extreme weather. Transitioning to composite decking can be a great option, but the cost might be outrageous. So you should know how to restore a weathered deck to add value to your home, increase its visual appeal, and prevent further rotting of the deck. 

There are a number of steps you should follow to restore your weathered deck. First, inspect the deck and repair potential damages on the surface. Protect items and plants around the deck then clean it. Sand the surface of the deck as a preparation for subsequent step like staining. With the right stain, stain the surface then apply a sealer over the finished stain.

Deck restoration allows you to save on time, and cost of installing and replacing a new deck. As long as your deck is still in a good condition, restoration will always be a better option.

In this post, you will find so much information to help with your quest of restoring your weathered wood deck. Keep reading for more information regarding the topic of discussion.

What Is a Weathered Deck?

As the name suggests, a weathered deck is a deck that looks worn and doesn’t have overhead protection from extreme weather. These decks degrade over time, even with good water-resistant stains and protective finishes.

A common problem with deck owners is that they only waterproof the deck once and leave the wood susceptible to natural elements.

You should seal your deck once every two years to prevent it from rotting and diminishing its structural integrity. If you want to determine if your deck needs waterproofing, spray a few drops of water on the deck and watch the reaction. If the water gets absorbed into the deck, it’s time to waterproof it.

Can You Revive Weathered Wood?

Wood is an excellent building material and can last for years when given good maintenance. But similar to other materials, wood can slowly lose its integrity when exposed to elements. UV rays, for instance, can break down the wood fibers, and after enough exposure, your wood begins turning grey from the UV rays effect. So can you revive weathered wood? 

Yes, it’s possible to revive weathered wood to resume its former glory. So don’t be persuaded to replace grey or weathered wood, while a quick fix is restoring it through a few steps, which I have laid out in this guide. 

How to Restore a Weathered Deck

Wood covered by algea, you should know How to Remove Algae from DeckRestoring a weathered deck can be a simple or more complicated job, depending on the condition and age of the wood. The process requires a smaller budget than replacing the entire deck, and it offers a great payoff, especially if you want to put your house on sale.

If your deck is only a few years old, you may only need a good cleaning and a coat of hand-brushed stain to restore its default look. If the deck was exposed to natural elements for lengthy periods, you might want to do a full restoration. 

If you lack the essential tools or basic knowledge on restoring your weathered deck, call an expert to give it a professional touch. However, if the severity of the damage is not big, you can tackle the project yourself, especially with these steps on restoring a weathered deck. 

Step 1: Inspect the deck and repair any damage.

Before purchasing supplies, it’s wise to carefully examine your deck to understand the scope of work you will need to restore. Check the deck boards, posts, stairs, handrails, and deck joists for damage.

You will need to replace any rot boards with similar wood species. If you are unsure of the wood species, take a sample to a certified lumberyard to help you match the board. 

Check the deck for any lifting nails and dab them down with a hammer. You will want to use a hammer with a smooth head instead of a serrated one. This ensures that you won’t leave unsightly hammer marks on your deck.

If necessary, replace the old nails with thicker ones for better holding power and ensure all the nail heads sink below the deck’s surface. This prevents you from heating protruding nails with a sander. 

If your deck was mounted with screws, reset them with a screwdriver bit attached to a hand drill. 

Tip: If the nails on your deck are backing out, the deck requires more fastening power. Therefore, I recommend replacing the lifting nails with 3″ deck screws. 

Step 2: Measure the area of the weathered deck

Before buying your restoration materials, measure the deck’s area. This ensures you purchase enough supplies eliminating the need to make a last minute rush to the home improvement shop in the middle of your project. 

It’s also good to plan your restoration project on a calm day. Otherwise, your project will take longer.

Step 3:  Remove any loose finish

You will need a paint scraper for this step to peel off any flaking paint or finish from the previous staining jobs. This enhances a smooth sanding process while keeping your canvas clean. If you notice large wood splinters, sand them using coarse sandpaper or a sanding pole to make the work easier.

Step 4: Protect the surrounding area. 

Before proceeding, protect the nearby landscaping with plastic sheeting to avoid the stain from splashing the house or killing your plants. If you don’t want to refinish the handrails, cover them with plastic sheeting.

Step 4:  Clean and Unfinished deck or strip the previously finished deck

Wear your protective gear, including work gloves, rubber boots, mask, and safety glasses since you will be dealing with chemicals. For an unfinished deck, add 1 quart of sodium hypochlorite and ½ cup of powder laundry detergent to three quarts of warm water in a safe container. Apply the mixture to the unfinished deck with a stiff brush, mainly focusing on areas with buildup or grime. 

After that, rinse the deck with a power washer and let it air dry overnight. Use a pump sprayer to spray deck strippers on a previously finished deck. And ensure you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for effective application.

After cleaning, remove the stubborn debris between the boards. A stiff putty knife will work well for this step. Use it to dislodge leaves, sticks, and any other thing that might be hiding between the deck boards. This will prevent the dirt from getting away with your sander.

Step 5: Sand the deck

Attach a sheet of 80 grit sandpaper or lower on an orbital sander. If your deck is cupped and wants to be leveled, use 60 grit sandpaper. If not, 80-grit sandpaper is typically coarse enough for this step.

Position the sander upright in the corner, switch it on, and move it lengthwise along the deck’s planks to the furthest corner. 

After sanding the first row, move to the next row and walk back to where you started. The sander has enough weight and can do the sanding independently, so don’t struggle to apply pressure. Instead, keep controlling and steering it.

Next, sand the corners and edges. The rectangular pad on your orbital sander can stretch into fairly tight spaces, but there are corners it can’t access. Therefore, you will need to do this by hand using a pad sander. And use a similar sandpaper grit you are using with the orbital sander. 

Lastly, use a soft-bristle broom to clean your deck or vacuum it with a dry vacuum cleaner. Expect some dust to remain in the wood pores, but you can wipe them down using a damp rag. 

Step 6: Stain and seal the deck

This is the most important step. Therefore, ensure the weather outside doesn’t rain since most stains take time to set before introducing moisture. Use a semi-transparent or colored stain for your weathered deck.

Once you’re set, apply the desired stain with a bristle brush, starting with the handrails, and adhere to the directions for your specific brand. 

Some stain varieties recommend applying with the wood grain, while others do well across the grain. Whichever direction your brand suggests, ensure you begin with a thin coat of stain since it’s easier to add more stain for even coverage than removing an excess stain. 

If your stain’s package doesn’t indicate that the product acts as a sealer, follow the recommended procedure and add a coat of sealer on the stained deck. 

Tip: It’s wise to seek a professional opinion on your deck’s condition before starting this project. Again, give your protective gears a priority to keep you safe from effects linked with using strong staining and cleaning chemicals. Lastly, ensure you take a tetanus shot if you’re injured with rusty nails.

Watch the Video Below On How to Restore Weathered Deck:

Why Is My Weathered Deck Grey? 

It’s important to protect the natural beauty of wood to retain its structural properties like durability and strength. If not, your wooden structures will bow to the destructive elements. So why is my weathered deck grey? 

The weathering process of wood involves a mixture of chemical, mechanical, and light-induced changes. All these changes occur concurrently and affect each other.

For example, as air flows over a wood deck surface, dirt, dust, pollen, and other pollutants outplace the exposed colored wood cells. This slow transformation makes your weathered deck turn grey. 

Besides air pollutants, this gradual change can also be triggered by long-term exposure to direct ultraviolet rays. And depending on the wood species, the changes can materialize between a couple of months to years.

Does Interior Wood Go Grey? 

Even though greying wood is an issue for exterior applications exposed to harsh elements, interior wood also turns grey, especially in kitchen areas where sunlight penetrates.

If interior wood is also subjected to condensation and Steam, the greying process can occur quickly if not treated properly. But this happens at a slower rate compared to exterior wood. 

The good thing is that you can keep the interior wood from greying by using built-in UV-resistant wood finishes. 

How Do I Keep My Deck From Turning Grey? 

Moisture can be your deck’s worst enemy. Although trees need water when they are alive, they can suffer many problems when water runs on them after they are shaped into boards. Your deck can turn grey due to being subject to elements, and even wood sealants don’t help with greying because they only prevent moisture and not UV rays. 

For this reason, it pays to learn to keep your deck from turning grey to avoid unwanted issues. 

Protecting new deck

  • Most of the new decks come pretreated at different levels. But you will still want to protect them with good wood oil. Knowing what the deck is treated with can also help determine a compatible product when the factory finish wears off. 
  • Another option is to treat your deck with decking oil since it has built-in UV protection and water-resistant qualities. This increases the lifespan of your deck, but you will need to top up after 1 or 2 years, depending on how exposed your deck’s level of exposure is. 
  • Purchase an awning: awning is temporary roofing that can either be manually or automatically retractable. They are assembled from UV-resistant materials so they can withstand the sunlight for years. And considering that they are retractable, you can close them when it rains to help enhance their longevity.
  • It’s good to choose a bright color when installing a new deck. Bright colors do not absorb heat which means your deck will not succumb to the fading effects of UV rays. So even if dark stains look better, they can fade with time under constant exposure and require more maintenance. 
  • Avoid pressure washing: one of the most promising ways to prevent your deck from greying is ensuring the deck remains structurally strong to resist elements. Pressure washing is one of the maintenance practices of keeping your deck in good shape. However, this method delivers strong water pressure that can soften and damage your deck. This makes it vulnerable to UV rays, which causes greying.

So can grey wood be avoided? Avoiding grey wood is impossible, but you can limit the greying process by applying a UV-resistant wood finish and keeping your deck in good condition. The UV-resistant wood finishing products offer added protection on your wood against elements. 

Will Pressure Treated Wood Grey? 

All wood types, including pressure-treated wood, are susceptible to the fading power of UV rays as they age. But you can delay the greying by applying a water-resistant sealer and built-in UV-resistant wood finish.

You must apply the deck stain on your pressure-treated wood with complete coverage. And also, avoid leaving pools of stain dry on the surface. Here are some products which can help you overpower greying on your deck. 

  • Clear Finishes 

Clear finishes protect wood against excessive moisture and help enhance its beauty. Many options are available in home improvement stores, most of which have UV blockers to prevent your pressure-treated wood from turning grey.

However, these products only work for some years, and after that, greying is inevitable. That means you will need a touch up on pressure treated wood after the clear finish reaches the end of its better days.

Besides, the following list highlights the best stains to keep your pressure treated wood from turning grey with time.

  • Ready Seal Gallon Exterior Stain

This bargain is an oil-based stain and sealer for pressure treated wood and almost all exterior wood. It incorporates fortified ingredients that block mold, mildew, and UV rays to ensure your wood doesn’t succumb to the greying effect.

The good thing about this stain is it allows your pressure treated wood texture and grain to show through, and you won’t need any wet lining when applying. 

  • Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain

This 2 in 1 semi-transparent deck stain is a perfect match for your pressure treated wood. It offers your pressure treated wood the needed protection against greying elements. This product doubles as a sealer and stain, so you won’t have to spend extra cash buying a sealer once you have this quality package.

The product profoundly penetrates your wood to form a solid coat that enhances the beauty, making it look natural. 

Note; If your pressure treated wood has already turned grey, don’t replace them. You can reduce the greying by manually removing the loose weathered residue or grey or restoring it chemically by washing away the grey effect with a quality cleaning solution. 

Use this procedure to peel down the grey residue on your pressure-treated wood:

First, wear your rubber gloves to protect your hands while working with wood strippers to avoid dangerous chemical reactions on your skin. Dip a clean rag into the wood stripper and wipe the rag along with the wood. 

Continue rubbing your wood, focusing on the grey sections until it disappears, exposing the colored wood underneath. Use coarse sandpaper to scuff up any areas on your wood where the stripper didn’t remove the grey.

Use a dry cloth to sweep away the sanding dust. Then take the stain of your color choice and polish it on your wood starting from the edges with a bristle brush.

Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to know how many coats are enough. Let the stain adhere to the pressure treated wood for 10 to 20 minutes, then apply a waterproof sealer or polyurethane to keep it from degrading prematurely.

What Is a Deck Restoration Coating? 

Deck restoration coating is a formula assembled from acrylic base material with UV inhibitors and sand to give your wood a new texture that can tolerate 10+ years without touch up. The ingredients in these products offer solid texture but allow your deck to breathe yet resist water.

Applying this durable coating requires rigorous surface prep. Avoid extending the deck coating further when applying by polishing it back and forth.

Doing so will thin it and introduce air bubbles to the surface. For best results, polish two coats of this coating on your deck and let it cure for two days before introducing impact or foot traffic.

Is It Better to Stain Or Paint Pressure Treated Wood? 

Pressure treated lumber is mainly designed for exterior applications, and it is fortified to extend the lifespan of the wood. However, the similar process that offers wood its preserving properties can ruin or foil stain and paint jobs when done incorrectly. This brings Into question, is it better to stain or paint pressure-treated wood?

It’s advisable to stain your pressure treated wood instead of painting it. I say this because the paint has poor adhesion qualities with pressure treated wood due to the process involved in the pressure treatment. However, you can still paint pressure-treated lumber if you follow the needed steps, like giving it enough time to dry before painting. 

Generally, pressure treated wood needs serious considerations when planning to restore the existing wood or a new project. It doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience to paint or stain your wood. If you follow the user’s instructions, you can achieve promising results for years. 


Given the effects to high foot traffic and outside elements, the wood deck will likely lose its integrity. If this happens, your deck will seem weathered, unappealing to the eyes, and decrease your house value, especially if you were to market it.

Lucky, there is a quick fix to this to ensure your wood deck stays in good shape for years to come. That’s by restoring your weathered deck. Restoring a weathered deck prevents it from rotting, saving you from spending the extra money to replace failing components. 

How to Restore a Weathered Deck

The steps involved in the restoration of weathered deck are relatively simple. As this post highlights, you need to inspect your deck to insure it is in the best condition before the restoration steps. Follow the inspection by fixing potential damages, protect the surrounding environment then clean the deck. 

After cleaning the deck, sand it in preparation for staining. After staining your deck, allow the stain to dry well before you can apply a sealing formula.

Image of a woodworker wearing hearing protectors for woodworking

Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.