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Wood Deck Resurfacing Ideas

Wood Deck Resurfacing

This deck in West Virginia gets punishing sunlight all day. Deck sealers are no match for the sun. Look at how this deck sealer is starting to peel. CLICK HERE to purchase my TEST RESULTS about the BEST DECK SEALER. (C) Copyright 2017 Tim Carter

Wood Deck Resurfacing Ideas and TIPS

  • Exotic hardwoods decking is hard to install and seal
  • Sun and water ruin traditional treated lumber
  • WATCH deck cleaning video below for non-toxic deck cleaner.
  • Composite decking and railing is what I now have
  • CLICK HERE to Get Tim's FREE & FUNNY Newsletter!

DEAR TIM: My wood deck sits in the sun all day with no shade. It’s now treated lumber and requires sealing every other year. I’ve tried lots of different sealers all with the same results.

I’m tired of all the work and I need some wood deck resurfacing ideas. I wonder if you have any experience with the exotic hardwoods like Tigerwood.

My husband and I are also thinking about composite decking, but it’s quite pricey. What has been your experience with wood decks and what would you do if you were me? Diane K., Morgantown, WV

DEAR DIANE: You’re in the same boat as many homeowners. In fact, I was in this boat up until a year ago. Allow me to share forty years of experience in just one thousand words. Keep in mind this column was written for newspapers and they impose a word limit on my work.

Hardwood Decks Are Hardest

I’ve built countless wood decks. They’ve been all sizes, shapes and I’ve used all sorts of different wood species.

The exotic hardwoods are some of the hardest to install because many of them are so hard and dense, you have to pre-drill all the fastener holes. Keep that in mind if you do decide to use that material. By all means get a sample piece and play with it to see how hard it is to install.

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local deck cleaning & sealing contractors if you're tired of doing all the work.

Treated Lumber Rots & Cracks

My guess is a vast majority of wood decks that are out there have treated wood decking and railing systems. Treated wood currently is the least expensive material to use.

The downside is that treated lumber may resist wood rot and insect infestation, but it can’t resist the punishing effects of the ultraviolet (UV) light of the sun. What’s more, wood is hygroscopic and it expands and contracts with respect to moisture content.

UV Light Destroys Treated Lumber

If you don’t seal treated lumber with some coating, the UV light will destroy the natural color pigments and the lignin that bonds the wood fibers together. Just as our skin needs sunscreen to prevent sunburn, so does wood.

Solid Color Stain = Cheap Paint & Peels

Paint is perhaps the best UV protector for treated lumber, but it peels easily. Paint is a film that lays on top of the wood. Many solid-color stains are really paint, so don’t fall for that marketing trick. If you’ve ever had a painted deck that’s peeled, you only make that mistake one time as it’s a nightmare to refinish and re-coat.

Semi-Transparent Sealers = Film Formers

Many deck sealers have the consistency of traditional penetrating wood stains and one would think they soak into the wood fibers. They do soak in, but I’ve discovered that many of them are also film formers.

Some of these stains leave a thin hard resin coating on the top of the wood and this thin layer tends to peel in two or three years. If you do stain, it’s best to get one with a medium colored pigment. The pigment particles sacrifice themselves to the UV light before it gets to the wood fibers.

I did my own independent test of major brand deck sealers. CLICK HERE to see Before and After photos of the test results.

wood deck resurfacing

This deck in West Virginia gets punishing sunlight all day. Moonlight hits it on some nights. (C) Copyright 2017 Tim Carter

Water Creates Cracks

Water also can destroy treated lumber over time. This is why you need to keep treated lumber sealed so water can’t penetrate into it. If water is allowed to soak into lumber, it causes the wood to swell. When the wood dries out the wood shrinks. This movement creates tiny checking cracks in the lumber.

The next time it rains, the water can soak in deeper using the cracks as a pathway. The expansion and contraction movement is amplified because more of the wood is expanding and contracting. The cracks get wider and deeper. Eventually the treated lumber starts to resemble a fifty-year-old fishing pier.

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local deck cleaning & sealing contractors if you're tired of doing all the work.

UV Light Destroys Sealers

The issue is even the best deck sealing products don’t hold up well against the harsh UV light. I did my own extensive testing of many major brands of deck sealers about four years ago. Some failed within ninety days. CLICK HERE to purchase my deck sealer test results.

The best one lasted two years before it finally started to peel a little bit. By the end of year three, the best performing sealer looked bad enough that it was time to strip it and start over. It’s a huge amount of work to strip or sand a wood deck and reseal it.

Deck Cleaning Video

NEVER pressure wash a wood deck. It DESTROYS the light-colored spring wood. Use Stain Solver - a certified organic oxygen bleach - to clean the wood. Watch this video about how to clean a wood deck.

I Switched To Composite

I believe this is why many homeowners have gravitated to the composite decking and railing systems. These materials have been around for almost two decades at this point. As with all materials, the first and second generations were not the best. Sometimes it takes a few attempts until you finally get it right.

I believe a few of the composite decking manufacturers have got it right. Last year I was tired of my decking and failing wood-railing system. It needed work and I had gotten to the point that I no longer wanted to deal with periodic sealing.

wood deck resurfacing

This deck in West Virginia gets punishing sunlight all day. (C) Copyright 2017 Tim Carter

I went with a major brand decking that offered a capped system. I know you'll ask the brand and it was Trex Transcend.

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local deck contractors who will REPLACE your wood deck with a COMPOSITE one like I have.

The core of my composite decking is a blend of wood fiber and plastic, but the top wear surface and the edges are capped with a virgin vinyl that’s both embossed and has coloration to simulate real wood graining.

My wife is a very harsh critic of anything synthetic in building products. She’s never liked any of the composite decking materials until she saw this one.

tim carter trex deck

This is the deck on my own home. The upper deck was original with the house and the lower deck I built the summer of 2016. The original upper deck had Generation 1 Trex on it that looked great for 15 years. Copyright 2017 Tim Carter

The samples in your hand or small mock-up decks at the lumberyards don’t look that appealing, but once the product is installed on the deck and you look across it, it really does look very realistic. My wife approves of the composite we have and loves to sit on our deck in the afternoon.

Composite Railings Easy To Install

My new railing system is also care-free and it was easy to install. I’d recommend that you take a serious look at all the top-of-the-line composite deck and railing products and see which one appeals to you.

You’ll not regret switching over. Be sure you select one that has a hidden fastening system. I don’t have any visible fastener holes anywhere on my deck or railing.

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local deck contractors who will REPLACE your wood deck with a COMPOSITE one like I have.

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5 Responses to Wood Deck Resurfacing Ideas

  1. I've used Penofin penetrating finish on my deck and reapplied it every 2-3 years. The deck is 25years old, gets partial sunshine, but mostly shade during the day. I plan to reapply again this year but am looking for a recommendation to "strip" or prepare the surface before the application. What would be your recommendation?

  2. Looking forward to your teak deck cleaning. I have a teak shower bench that I have let go and I want to bring it back to the original color. Will your video cover the way to get the white film off first before I get to be able to see the original color and what do I use to do that?

    • Holly,

      Willy has some questionable advice. Beware of that. I'd have to see a photo of your mysterious "white film". If it's just sun-damaged previous sealer, the answer is my Stain Solver oxygen bleach will probably remove it.

      If not, you just sand it off. Here's is how you get Stain Solver:

      http://www.stainsolver.com

  3. I have a Trex deck that I installed about 5 years ago. It faded a little but still looks decent. The only issue I had was hidden fasteners on the steps. They started to fail due to people hitting the edges of the steps. I simply added a few deck screws into the supports and everything is now solid. In the future when I install steps, I would leave the underlying wood steps there and put the new wood on top. It would provide support for the new steps (who are quite flexible) and not be visible.

  4. Holly:

    The white film may be mineral deposits. If so, vinegar will dissolve them. Try a bit on an out-of-sight place first.

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