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Before you start staining your wooden deck, take some time to make the necessary repairs and clean the deck boards. You’ll be glad you did when you see the finished results. In this first video in our 2-part series on deck maintenance, we’ll show you the basics of repairing and cleaning deck boards.

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If you’re lucky enough to have a deck, you know that spending time outdoors with a cool drink sitting in your favorite deck chair is one of the greatest pleasures of the season. But before you get too relaxed, you first need to make sure your deck is ready for the season. That means you have to properly prepare the area before you can put down a fresh coat of deck stain.

In part 1 of this two-part video, we’re going to show you how to get your deck ready for a fresh new coat of stain. First we’ll show you how to fix some problem areas and then we’ll strip off the old finish and give it a good scrubbing with a power washer. So let’s get started.

In our deck, we have some problem areas that first need to be addressed. Here, you see some rotten deck boards that need to be replaced. There’s no way to fix these boards, so they’ll have to be replaced with new pressure treated, 5/4 deck boards. First remove the old boards by taking out the screws. Then, with the help of a pry bar, remove the boards and set them aside.

The best way to ensure a good fit with the new boards is to mark them in place. Then, cut them with a circular saw. Make sure you’re wearing eye protection for this step. Now, screw the new boards in place using 3” deck screws.

To repair this warped board that is sticking up, we’ll need a couple clamps to hold the piece in position. Then, a couple deck screws will hold it in place.

Now our bench needs a little attention. This will require some 3/8” galvanized carriage bolts, fastened with washers and nuts. First, drill the hole then insert the bolt. Place the washer on, then fasten the nut with a socket wrench. These are relatively easy repairs to make, but if you’re not comfortable making these repairs on your own, you may want to call a carpenter to do the work.

Now that we’ve made the necessary repairs, it’s time to strip the old finish off our deck. First, we’ll protect areas around the deck and on the house by masking these areas with a plastic drop cloth.

First, we’ll sweep the entire surface of the deck with a push broom.

Next, we’ll pour our deck stripper into our garden sprayer following the manufacturer’s instructions. Now we’ll apply a uniform coat of product with a garden sprayer. You can also use a brush or a roller to apply the stripper if you’re concerned about overspray. The trick here is to keep the surface wet. Allowing the solution to stand for 20 to 30 minutes.

When the surface begins to lift, scrub it with a stiff bristle nylon scrub brush.

Now it’s time to rinse area using either a garden hose at the highest pressure setting on the nozzle, or, in our case, a pressure washer. Many local independent home improvement retailers rent these units, so check with them first if you don’t have one.

We’re going to use a pressure washer with a 40-degree tip. This is the right tip for washing a deck and will not damage the wood. Use a pendulum motion and try to avoid starting the water flow on the wood, which can cause lap marks. Also, work in the same direction as the grain of the wood, along the length of the deck boards.

Keep the pressure washer wand close enough to the surface of the deck to wash away the grime that the stripper or cleaner has lifted.

After the deck has been washed, apply a wood brightener, which will neutralize the surface of the wood to ensure that the surface is chemically neutral before the stain is applied. The brightener doesn’t need to be rinsed off.

Well there you have it. Now we’ll let the wood dry for 48 hours before we sand and stain, which will be our next episode. See you back here in a couple days.

If you have questions about this or any other home improvement project, be sure to read our list of Frequently Asked Questions for this video. And be sure to print out our Project Instructions, which includes a Tools and Materials checklist, before visiting your local independent home improvement retailer. That’s where you’ll find all the products and helpful advice to complete your project. If you’re not sure where to find your local store, check out our Store Locator.

Good luck with your project and thanks for watching.

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  1. 1.remove rotted wood

    Remove rotted boards.

  2. 2.mark boards and cut

    Mark the new boards in place with a pencil and cut to size. Wear eye protection.

  3. boards

    Use 3-inch deck screws to secure the boards in place.

  4. 4.warped wood

    Clamp warped boards down and add more deck screws.

  5. 5.tape plastic

    Tape plastic sheeting to areas surrounding the deck.

  6. 6.sweep

    Sweep off deck.

  7. 7.spray stripper

    Spray deck stripper to remove any old stains.

  8. 8.scrub

    After 20-30 minutes, scrub the deck.

  9. 9.rinse

    Rinse the area with a high-pressure hose. Many local hardware retailers rent these. Work along the boards in pendulum motions.

  10. 10.brighten wood

    Apply a wood brightener.


Project Faqs « back to project

How often do I need to stain my deck?

It’s a good idea to reapply stain once a year on wooden decks, especially if the deck is located in full sun most of the time. The sun’s... More »

Do I need to sand my deck before staining it?

Sanding deck boards before proceeding with the staining process helps ensure that the surface of the deck is level and there are no tripping... More »

What is causing the ends of my deck boards to crack?

Excessive cracking at the ends of wooden deck boards is a sign that too much water is being absorbed into the ends of the board (also known as end... More »

What can I use to clean my deck?

You can use one of the deck brightener products that are on the market, or you can use TSP (trisodium phosphate). You can also use a power washer... More »

I’m going to apply an oil-base stain to my deck. Do I need to strip the existing finish off first before applying the new stain?

If the existing finish was a water- or latex-base stain, then you should remove it before re-staining. If it is an oil-base finish, then you can... More »

How can I tell if my deck boards need replaced before I refinish it?

If there are signs on rotting and you can poke a hole through the wood with a screwdriver, you’ll want to replace those boards with new ones of... More »


What annual maintenance needs to be done on my mower?

If you are going to store your mower for the winter, disconnect the spark plug and drain the fuel from the tank. Then, reconnect the spark plug and... More »

Should I apply the deck stripper by spraying it on or with a roller?

If It’s a windy day, they you should use a roller to control overspray. However, if it’s a calm day with no wind, they you can probably apply it... More »

What’s the best type of stain to use on my wooden deck, an oil or latex base stain?

There are pros and cons to each type. Oil base stains generally offer better penetration into the wood to offer more protection from water... More »

What do I need to do to repair my leaking faucet?

Is it leaking from the handle or out the spout? Most faucets are washer-type, and if these are leaking from the spout, you will have to replace the... More »

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