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?
Common signs you can look for that indicate the deck is ready to be refinished:
- Bad Ledger & Deck Frame
- Split or Cracked Boards
- Peeling and Flaking Paint
- Wood Looks Dry and Old
- Splintering Boards
- Rotting (Mold & Mildew) Visible On Planks or the Deck Frame
- Many Raised Screws, Loose Screw Boards
- Faded and Discolored
- 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
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