Here is my deck condition. deck condition

closeup damage

more closeups

some holes

Couple questions:

  1. What do I need to do to prep a deck in this condition? Was planning on washing with oxi clean and dish soap and orbital sanding. I'm guessing some wood filler would help here too? Any other repair or prep tips? Order of operation would he helpful.

  2. Is condition salvageable enough to stain or am I stuck with paint? Will use Cabot stain. Was hoping to do a semi transparent oil based stain. Am I stuck with their deck Repair line or the solid paint?

Any tips would appreciated!

  • 3
    If you are going to sand it, keep the sawdust to use as the base for your filler, as it will then match the rest of the boards ... Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 7:20
  • 2
    Don't use wood filler. I'm not sure it's even necessary to spell out a reason.
    – Neil_UK
    Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 9:20
  • 1
    If you have boards with a lot of lifting bits, like the middle of your 2nd pic, maybe try flipping them to see if the other side is in better shape.
    – Huesmann
    Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 14:17
  • 3
    It's a bit unclear what the question is. That deck looks fine. Why do you think it might not be salvageable?
    – Nobody
    Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 14:59
  • Just needs some Schaffer's New Zealand Style Deck Sealant! Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 10:07

4 Answers 4


It appears to be somewhat weathered, but overall solid.

You can do as much or as little as you like to it, from there. It's a deck, not a living room floor. If it's not structurally compromised (and it does not appear to be) such that falling through it is likely, it's doing its job. If some boards are, replace them. If more than half the boards are, consider it might be time to replace them all, at that point.

Beyond that is cosmetics, with a touch of perhaps preserve its remaining life a bit. Sand if the splinters are bad enough to annoy you, or don't if they are not; then seal it, oil it, stain it, or paint it as you like, if you want to. Hopefully it's pressure treated material so rot should be limited.

Sanding back so it looks like "new wood" before you seal, oil, stain or paint is purely cosmetic and not needed for any reason other than trying to make a deck out in the weather more of a project than it needs to be. If it's stabbing you with splinters, that's a functional reason to sand, but making the wood "not weathered gray" is purely cosmetics. That's what happens to wood in the weather, and plenty of structures built like that function for decades with no further cosmetic treatments done to them.


I've worked on many decks that look just like that. Get a pressure cleaner/washer and go over the entire deck. You'll be surprised at how that cleans up the deck. Don't use a 4500 PSI (31 MPa) washer, stick to around 1600 PSI (11 MPa) so you don't damage the wood. There are deck washing fluids you can get at your home store but I've always just used water. After it dries,sand any rough spots and check for any rot and repair as needed. It's up to you on what finish you want. I've used clear water sealers, stain sealers, and paint all with great results. It depends on your personal preferences.


As a variant opinion, go underneath and look for deterioration in the structure supporting the decking. If that's showing significant issues (i.e. edges rotting off) then expect to replace the whole thing in a couple of years (and next time, make sure that the wood is properly treated and retain all certificates).

Apart from that, I'm a bit concerned about that board with "shakes" running across it, which suggests rot. However as others have said: clean everything up then apply preservative... I'd make that /copious/ preservative in dry weather, such that it runs onto any part of the supporting structure that water would normally contact.


Wood naturally will gray out like that. The sun and rain do that. If you want it to not do that as fast, that's where water sealer can extend the life of your deck.

The board in the middle of your second picture looks to be in worse shape than the rest of the boards. A single board isn't expensive and I would replace it solely because it may start to crack and curl on you (plus it looks worse). I don't think there's any obvious safety concerns there.

Your best bet is not staining, but a deck paint. They are designed to provide a uniform look in the end, and contain material so the surface will still provide traction without being uncomfortable.

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