Deck Restoration: Expert Tips To Make It Look New

Decks are more than architectural pieces intended to beautify your property—they’re the perfect spot for a family gathering, barbecue party, or enjoying scenic views. But as with any part of your home, decks can deteriorate over time, even with good maintenance. 

When this happens, many homeowners think a complete replacement should be done. But if you’re looking for a more cost-effective solution, consider a deck restoration process to make your deck look new again. 

A serene garden pool lined with a beautiful composite decking system

In this guide, we’ll walk you through a series of expert advice and tips to ensure your deck doesn’t just get fixed but is also restored to its former glory. Let’s get started! 

Tools Required 

  1. Work gloves 
  2. Scrub brush
  3. Tape measure
  4. Putty knife
  5. Safety glasses 
  6. Paint scraper 
  7. Power sander or sanding paper 
  8. Hammer or drill
  9. Paintbrushes and paint rollers 
  10. Roller tray
  11. Sealant applicator 
  12. Drop cloths or old newspaper 
  13. Power washer 

Materials Required 

  1. Sealer or wood stain
  2. Deck screws 
  3. Replacement boards 
  4. Wood filler 
  5. Painter’s tape
  6. Composite deck cleaner 

How To Restore A Deck To Make It Look Like New

A backyard with a playground equipped with a composite deck

Time and weather can deteriorate your deck over time, even with proper maintenance, leaving it looking dull and old. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid maintaining your deck altogether; in fact, we suggest routine checks to keep it in pristine condition.

Materials age as time passes; even hardy metals and versatile plastics degrade over time—your deck included. While some homeowners tend to replace their whole decks, this may not be a cost-effective solution for everyone else. 

Fortunately, a deck repair and restoration is a DIY-able project that can be done by following simple, easy-to-follow steps. 

Step 1: Check the Deck and Inspect for Damage 

A visual inspection is the first step to ensure the restoration process goes smoothly. Wear your work gloves and carefully inspect every nook and cranny of the entire deck. You can also feel for any warping and splintering using your fingers.

Go to the posts of the deck and assess for any moisture damage, such as rotting and discoloration; this is important as the posts stabilize the deck and provide structural support. Also, don’t forget to check the fasteners for rust and the railings for structural integrity.

If you see signs of water damage, you can disassemble some boards to check for damage beneath them. 

RELATED: Is WPC Decking Waterproof?

Step 2: Prepare and Thoroughly Clean the Deck 

If your visual inspection turns out great and you didn’t find any significant damage, it’s time to prepare your deck for the restoration process. Clear your deck by setting aside furniture, plants, and other items that can be an obstacle.

If there is debris, you can use a broom or a leaf blower to clear it from the deck. After this, you can use a power washer on low pressure or just a bucket of water coupled with a good soft brush to remove mildew, dirt, and grime. 

Choosing the Right Cleaner 

If you want to restore a deck to its former beauty, start by selecting the right cleaner for the cleaning process. Since deck materials vary, you need to choose a cleaner that suits the material. Here are some cleaners available:

Deck cleaning products:

  • Sodium hypochlorite – Commonly known as household bleach, it is effective for mold and mildew. 
  • Sodium percarbonate –  Known as oxygen bleach, provides a gentler cleaning process.
  • Oxalic acid – A good rust and stain remover. 
  • Sodium hydroxide – A good degreasing agent. 


You can also use this DIY solution as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory: 

  • 1 quart sodium hypochlorite 
  • ⅓ cup of powdered or liquid laundry detergent
  • 3 quarts of warm water 

Step 3: Deck Restoration 

Once your deck is cleared of furniture and debris and thoroughly cleaned, it’s time for you to start the deck restoration process. Based on your initial inspection, the restoration process will depend on the overall status of your deck.

Let’s discuss the minor and major repair works: 

Minor Repairs 

  • Supplement existing deck supports: Decks can develop an uneven surface when settling on the ground and when subjected to changing weather as the material expands. To fix this, you must inspect sagging and uneven areas and supplement them with beams or posts to ensure a stable and even deck. 
  • Tighten or replace screws, brackets, and fasteners: If your deck squeaks when you walk, jump, or run over it, you may be dealing with loose fasteners or screws. Use a screwdriver to retighten them, but if they are already rusted, we suggest replacing them with new ones. 
  • Clean and repaint railings: Apart from the deck, the railings are also exposed to damaging elements, cuts, and scratches. Clean the railings with a low-pressure washer or scrub them out, then repaint them with a new paint or wood stain. 

Major Repairs 

  • Replace rotted or damaged decking boards: Rotting is a serious problem indicative of long-time water and moisture damage. Inspect the deck boards and search for signs of rotting, such as discoloration, softness, and mildew. If you found them, replace them ASAP to prevent the rotting from transferring to the surrounding boards. 
  • Use polyurethane caulk to fix cracks: Sometimes, cracks can present in the deck surface as the material expands, allowing water to seep in. When this happens, you can use a polyurethane caulk that’s flexible enough to accommodate thermal expansion and prevent water penetration. 
  • Replace railings and balusters if necessary: If your deck’s railings are wobbly, the balusters are already failing. To ensure the overall safety of the deck, we suggest replacing them as soon as possible.

Step 4: Apply Stains, Paints, and Sealants

In this step, you’ll apply stains or paints, and sealants as a finishing touch. But first, you need to choose the stain or paint that will go well with your deck’s overall style and color. If you want vibrant colors, go for paint, but if you want to mimic natural wood, go for a stain.

Applying high-quality deck stains and paints not only enhances your deck’s aesthetics but also protects it from damage. Once you select one, you also need to apply a sealant on top of that to create a better barrier than stain or paint alone.

Other Deck Improvements for Outdoor Living

Aside from restoring your deck, you can also add other features to complement it and create a better outdoor space: 

Install a Pergola 

A pergola is a good addition to your deck as it provides shade and an exclusive space for parties and gatherings. You can also design it with curtains, string lights, or climbing plants for a more aesthetic vibe. 

Add Railings, Grills, and a Fireplace 

If your deck currently has no railings, you can add one to enhance functionality and safety. Apart from railings, you can also add a dedicated grilling and fireplace area where you can enjoy barbecues and night story times with your family and friends.

Place Comfortable Furniture and Create Lounge Areas

Adding furniture to your deck is a great way to enhance its functionality, especially if you love lounging outdoors and you love conducting parties on your deck. We recommend choosing furniture that complements your deck’s design and is weather-resistant.

Decorate with Plants or Create a Garden

If you think your deck is looking a bit plain and mediocre, you could add a touch of nature to it to enhance the overall aesthetics of your outdoor space. You can add potted plants, a garden bed, hanging planters, or even balustrades with built-in pots. 

Supply Outdoor and Deck Lighting

Deck lighting offers a warm and relaxing ambiance during the night. You can use battery-powered string lights and solar lanterns to light up your deck during the night and create a nice evening atmosphere.  

Build Decks That Last with Oakio! 

Do you want a deck that looks as stunning as traditional wood decks but without the time-consuming and effort-intensive maintenance? Turn to Oakio, a leading innovator of composite products, which offers premium WPC decks that can withstand the test of time!

You can start planning and building your dream deck today by using our product visualizer to see how different deck styles would look on your property, and use our deck calculator to estimate prices.

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You can also order free samples so you can experience how our deck boards look and feel in person! 

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