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Save a Bundle By Rejuvenating Your Old Deck

Has your deck been neglected? Does it look so weathered and worn that you've given up on it and figure you'll have to replace it? Don't rush to dump an aging deck. There's more life left in it than you think. Besides, restoring a deck isn't difficult and it can save you a bundle. Especially if you're on a strict budget or preparing to sell your house in the not-too-distant future.

A new deck is a major expense that can be avoided. With some repairs, cleaning and staining, you can restore much of the luster of a venerable deck. And with periodic cleaning and maintenance, you can keep it looking good.

What's the Cost?

If you hire someone else to do deck restoration plan on spending about $1 per square foot. If you do it yourself, it'll cost about a third of that. Not bad for a couple weekends' worth of work.

What's Involved?

Start with a Thorough Inspection

  • Pay close attention to places where the deck touches the ground. The posts, stair stringers and joists are most vulnerable to rot. Poke around with a screwdriver. If there's a fair amount of rotted wood, plan to make for structural repairs.

  • Look at the deck's connections to the house. Replace or tighten any missing, loose or rusted screws and bolts.

  • Are there any black stains? Black stains on the exterior or interior might mean you have a leak that should be cured by repairing or installing flashing and spacers that keep moisture out.

  • Check for minor things such as loose boards, splinters or loose railings and refasten or replace as needed.

Cleaning is Next

  • Wear protective goggles and gloves, and treat the cleaning solution with respect.

  • Protect your plants. If spray gets on you or your plants, you'll notice the deleterious effects. Cover them with protective sheeting.

  • Using an applicator and garden hose will save time.

  • Scrub the deck surface with a stiff bristle brush while still wet.

  • Rinse and allow it to dry thoroughly (up to a week or more) before staining.

Staining is the Final Step

  • A fresh, even coat of stain can hide faded, spotted or stained wood.

  • A sprayer can save time, especially on a larger deck.

  • Work parallel with the boards, starting from the inside working out.

  • Apply stain onto only a few boards at a time to avoid lap marks.

  • Lap up puddles with a brush.

  • Be generous with stain. Apply a good coat of stain. Follow up with a brush or roller.

  • Apply finishing touches around the posts and end grains of the boards.

The job will probably take more stain that the instructions indicated, so buy extra before starting the job.

That's all there is to it. Keep your deck looking good with an annual cleaning and a fresh coat of stain every other year.

If you're looking for professional help to rejuvenate a worn deck, be sure to access your AHA member discount benefits and find the best contractor for the job at

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