9 Big Signs You Should Have Your Deck Refinished

deck staining sealing cleaning services in Wisconsin southeast

When your deck goes from fab to old and drab, it’s time to start thinking about refinishing the deck. But, it’s important to know the signs between minor fixes to have the entire deck refinished.

A beautiful, refinished deck will not only look great for the entire exterior of your home but also extend the life of the wood itself.

Many great benefits of restoring a deck:

  • Restoring a wood deck before major damage happens costs less than replacing a wood deck, and refinishing your deck will cost a LOT less.
  • You can halt major structural damage and possible deck failure in its tracks by replacing boards, fixing others and protecting it with a new refinish job.
  •  Restoring your deck’s minor problems now (like warping floorboards, loose pieces, shaky rails, and splintering) will help prevent them from turning into bigger issues later on.
  • A refinished deck is an easy improvement that can help the overall resale value of your home allowing it to sell faster!


What Are The Signs Of a Bad Deck?

Besides just looking bad, there are more specific problems that can be a clear sign of your deck needing to be brought back to life. 

Common signs you can look for that indicate the deck is ready to be refinished:

  1. Bad Ledger & Deck Frame
  2. Split or Cracked Boards
  3. Peeling and Flaking Paint
  4. Wood Looks Dry and Old
  5. Splintering Boards
  6. Rotting (Mold & Mildew) Visible On Planks or the Deck Frame
  7. Many Raised Screws, Loose Screw Boards
  8. Faded and Discolored
  9. Spongy and Soft Spots When You Walk On It

1. Bad Ledger & Deck Frame

Solid beams, strong joists, and good looks aren’t much use when you should be worrying about a rotting ledger board. If any of your wood deck’s framing is bad, that needs to be addressed before you can even begin to think about restoring or refinishing a wood deck.



2. Split or Cracked Boards

Split or cracking deck boards can be the beginning of what could be a much larger problem if you allow it to go without fixing. These must be replaced before you can stain the deck. It’s a good idea to check to see if any boards are starting to bow. This also includes the railing, posts, sills and joists. If a board is badly warped and you put a lot of weight on it, these could also split or break completely. If you see any of those signs, don’t wait and replace those boards.

3. Peeling & Flaking Paint

Peeling & Flaking Paint

Even if you have a newly re-painted deck you can still find yourself with peeling or flaking paint because the deck was not properly power washed before re-painting. We see this often with homeowners in a hurry to cover problems to sell a home. If you have peeling and flaking, it’s best to have the entire deck stripped, then a good power-washing before the staining process.

4. Wood Looks Dry and Old

Your wood deck simply looks terrible. Maybe there is peeling paint or the wood looks dry and faded – in either case, deck restoration or deck refinishing can restore the beauty of your old deck and make it look like new.



5. Splintering Boards

Wood fibers tend to raise as they expand with rain and water over time. Wood fibers can often remain raised and may cause splinters. Splintering is a clear warning sign of damaged boards and potentially allowing moisture in that will cause them to rot and grow mold. This rotting will eventually lead to them collapsing.


6. Rotted Wood (Mold & Mildew)

Check the boards closely for any mold, mildew or other fungi. Even if your deck is treated, the wood can still rot. Pay special attention to where every post touches the ground…especially if you have a second story deck. If you see mold on the boards, they will need to be replaced before any staining can be done. If you see it on more than one of the support posts, it’s time to for a new deck.

7. Raised Screws, Loose Screw Boards

One of the most common problems regarding deck repair is of nails popping up out of the boards. Nails generally pop out of wood decking due to every day use and because of contraction of the wood during cold and hot periods. While this may be an easy fix, by simply hammering them back down, they actually compromise the integrity of the deck. They are also a major safety hazard for those walking on the wood with bare feet. If there are only a few raised screws or loose screws, simply replace. We recommend NOT to re-hammer them. If there are many and the boards are starting to crack or fall apart, it’s time to replace them and then get your deck refinished.

8. Fading and Discolored Boards

If your deck looks dull, is fading and has discolored board, it’s definitely time to refinish. Over time the weather, traffic use and even chemicals in cleaners or previous stains can bleach can degrade the wood. This includes ultra-violet caused bleaching. 



9. Spongy And Soft When Walked On

Walk around your deck and feel how the wood responds to you. If you feel soft spots, bowing, and even sponginess, this means there are moisture issues with your wood and these planks need to be replaced. Oftentimes, there is rotting underneath the surface that you cannot see. The deck may need to be completely replaced in this situation as well.


Hire a Professional

However, the best way to tell if your deck needs to be refinished is to have a professional come and assess the status of your deck. Which is exactly what we are here to do.

If you have used our guide above and your deck has at least 2 of the problems listed above, we set up a convenient time to meet so we can inspect the deck and give a good idea of options.

Original post date: March 6th, 2017

Updated: March 6th, 2020 


7 thoughts on “9 Big Signs You Should Have Your Deck Refinished

  1. Olivia Pearson Reply

    I like how you said that one of the most common problems that may warrant deck restoration is nails and screws sticking up out of the deck boards. I think that this safety hazard is something that should be fixed as soon as possible in order to ensure the safety of your family, kids and pets especially. My husband and I have noticed that a few nails are poking through the wood on our deck floor. We’ll have to find a deck restoration service in our area as soon as possible that can help us take care of this safety hazard before it becomes serious.

  2. Ellie Davis Reply

    My husband and I noticed a couple of cracked boards in the deck of our new house. As you mentioned that is a sign to repair or replace your deck. I will contact a hardscape contractor to evaluate whether to repair or replace my deck.

  3. Nick Reply

    I experienced that before. My daughter noticed some damage on our deck. I was worried to walk on the deck that we might crack the wood and fall. Thank you for tips, we should check the woods regularly to ensure we have a safe deck.

  4. builders Huntly Reply

    This is really appreciated that you have presented this data over here, I love all the information shared. It will be very helpful to understand the content on deck refinished signs . Indeed a great post to share!! Loved it…

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