In This Post: Learn how to increase your deck’s lifespan for 5-10 years while saving hundreds of dollars!
When I bought my house, I had a home inspection report that recommended replacing the boards on my deck. However, as a new homeowner, the last thing I wanted to do was fix an old deck. Instead, I wanted to buy new furniture, remodel my kitchen, and buy updated appliances. So, I decided to leave “fixing the deck” for another time.
However, over the course of a year, I started to notice my deck really starting to deteriorate. I was finding old paint chips flying into my yard and garden. A few boards started to come off of the foundation. Then, worst of all, I almost stepped on a rusty nail coming out of old rotted boards.
Enough was enough! I was finally ready for an upgrade.
I got a quote from a local contractor that gave me an estimate of around $1900, which included parts and labor. There was a part of me that said, “just pay the guy, and enjoy some time indoors.” Yet, another part of me was saying, “you can do this on your own! Save money, do a project, and feel a sense of pride for your work!”
While the idea of renovating a deck as a “DIY Project” might seem overwhelming, it was actually quite manageable. I paid substantially less (scroll to the end to see exactly how much) than I was quoted.
The entire project took me roughly two days to complete (you can do it in one, but the summer heat was too much for me to handle). With a few simple tricks and tips, you can transform your old deck into an “All Decked Out” deck in a matter of a few days!
Tools For Success
- 5/4 in. x 6 in. x 8 ft. Ground Contact Pressure-Treated Premium Pine Decking Board
- Valspar Tintable White Base Solid Exterior Stain and Sealer (My deck was tinted to Potato Skin)
- Valspar Tintable White Base Solid Exterior Stain and Sealer (Gallon — White)
- Paint Brush & Paint Tray
- Paint Roller
- Pry Bar
- Decking Screws
- Miter Saw (Optional)
- Masks & Goggles
Notes & Tips
- This project is only a “deck update.” You will not be building a new deck from scratch. If you need posts or a new foundation, then this DIY is not for you. However, if you currently have an old deck that you want to increase the lifespan of for another 5-10 years, then this project is for you!
- You will only need a miter saw if your boards need to be cut to fit your deck properly. However, if you have a 12-foot deck and your boards are 12 feet in length, then you will save a lot of time and will not need to cut anything. I recommend getting boards that fit the length of the deck.
- I am not updating the railings of my deck, as they are in decent condition. However, if you are looking to fix your railing, then you will need to account for additional materials.
- Start by measuring your deck and counting the number of boards you need. From there, buy the appropriate number of boards for your size/space. Always double-check your measurements!
Start by Sanding
For this project, I decided to update all the boards on the deck without messing with the foundation. I also decided to leave my railings as-is but gave it a nice new coat of paint. Usually, an old weathered deck still has a strong foundation, as water takes a lot longer to take its destruction to the structural elements of the deck.
However, if you realize your structural integrity has been compromised, then you might want to replace the entire deck.
Since I was not updating my railings, I started by sanding the exterior of the deck.
To ensure that you do not damage the wood on your deck, use 60-150 grit sandpaper. Sand down all parts of the railings and exterior of your deck. Since you will replace the floor of the deck, you do not need to sand it. Make sure you wear a mask and goggles for this part!
Paint the Exterior/Railings of the Deck
After the wood is sanded down, you should paint your exterior. Ensure you have an exterior paint or stain that is either one coat or has a primer and stain in one (it will save you a lot of time and energy).
I did not have to worry about paint falling on the deck boards below, as I was going to end up replacing them. You will also appreciate painting the railings first because they will be dry by the time you have the floorboards removed! So, if you need to, you will be able to touch up parts of the deck later on!
Remove the Floor Boards
After you have painted the exterior of your deck, along with the railings, you can now remove your floorboards.
You will need gloves, a pry bar, goggles, and durable shoes! I realized that the boards were quite difficult to remove, as many of the nails were rusted and broken within the boards. Please wear durable and strong shoes as you might find nails in places that you did not expect!
Once you have removed all of the boards, you will have a good understanding of the durability of your old deck.
Some people may also choose to go one board at a time (i.e., remove one and add one). If you do decide to remove your boards and install them one by one, then please take this major recommendation:
Start by removing boards closest to your home, and move towards the exterior of the deck. I made the mistake of starting from the end of my deck and moved towards my home. Then, at the last moment, I realized that my boards were not spaced properly. Avoid the huge headache of having to resize your last board, and do not start from the base of your home.
However, if you start at your home, you will have no problems with spacing, as your last board will have no barriers blocking it!
Add New Deck Boards
When you have removed all of the boards on your deck, it is now time to add your new boards! As mentioned above, please start adding boards from your home and move outwards.
I also highly recommend using decking screws and an impact driver to save you a lot of time and effort. Make sure you also know where the slats are below the board you are installing so that you drill through both. I screwed in about 10 decking screws per board, as I wanted a really stable foundation, but you can adapt your required tools based on your size and space.
Also note, that I had to use two six-foot boards for my deck to make up the 12-foot length that I had to cover. If I could go back in time, I would recommend saving time/effort and renting a truck. However, if you have a strict budget as I did, or if you need to use multiple boards, then you may need to add a center brace.
The process of adding a section to your deck for added stability is called Deck Blocking or Bridging. You may not need to add a brace, but if you run into the same problem as me, it can come as an affordable and quick solution. The deck bridge can also help prevent warping!
Paint the New Floor Boards
I was going for a hardy dark brown deck, so I used weather-resistant fast-drying paint. If you want to play it safe, I recommend adding some painter’s tape to the edges of your deck so the paint doesn’t get anywhere you do not want it to.
I also recommend using paint instead of a stain for your floorboards. However, you can use a stain for the railings/exterior. Paint lasts a lot longer and is easier to maintain.
While I used one coat of paint, I still needed to re-apply another coat a few hours later. You may also need a thin paintbrush along with a roller to get to corners or hard-to-reach spaces.
Add Variety & Decor
After your paint is completely dry, you can add variety by painting your stairs to add a nice accent. I decided to paint the back of my stairs to add some consistency and uniformity to other areas of the deck.
Bohemian Style has become quite popular lately, so I decided I wanted my decor to have eclectic designs and colors. I live in a coastal state, so I was thinking about using blue and white to create a nautical theme.
However, my entire living room is a blue theme, so I wanted to change it up. I decided to use wall art from my living room as an inspiration piece to decide how I would design my exterior. You can use inspiration pieces as a way to tie the indoors with your outdoors in a way that brings consistency and creativity to your entire home.
I went with bright red designs to tie in the subtle red designs of my home’s inside to the outside. This included outdoor pillows, a red outdoor umbrella, and a cushion to sit on! I was pleased with the result!
By doing this project on my own, I saved myself a lot of money, learned a new skill, and increased my deck’s life.
The next day it also happened to rain, and I could see the raindrops pooling on the deck, which was a major sign of success! My deck was effectively weather-resistant!
If you liked this project or have any questions, thoughts, or suggestions– please comment below!