How to Resurface Cracked & Splintered Wood Decks

Written by andrew hazleton
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With a little work, a cracked and splintered wood deck can be rejuvenated and made to look almost new. Most decks are built out of 2-inch thick wood, so there is usually enough material available to resurface the deck. Depending on the type of wood used, the repair process will be slightly different. After repair and resurfacing, your deck will require repainting or re-staining as desired.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Prybar
  • Replacement boards (if needed)
  • Driver drill with screwdriver attachment
  • Deck screws
  • 1/4-inch drill bit
  • Pressure washer
  • Orbital sander
  • Sandpaper
  • Sanding pads

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  1. 1

    Examine the deck for any boards which have cracks through the entire board, or that are rotted more than 1/2 inch from the surface. These should be replaced.
    Remove these boards with a prybar, cut new boards the same width and length as the removed boards, and install them with deck screws. Do your best to match the screw/nail pattern of the existing boards so the repair doesn't stand out.

  2. 2

    Drill a 1/4-inch hole through the deck wherever standing water accumulates. When the deck is sanded and refinished this hole will become nearly invisible, and it will eliminate the standing water. Do not drill the hole where a floor joist is under the decking.

  3. 3

    Secure any loose boards with additional deck screws, again attempting to match the existing screw pattern.

  4. 4

    Examine the deck for any existing fasteners which have raised up from the the surface. Ideally, all fasteners should be recessed at least 1/8 inch below the surface of the deck. Use a hammer and nailset, or a driver drill, to set all fasteners to the correct level.

  5. 5

    Remove wood preservatives before sanding, as this material can be hazardous if breathed. The easiest way to remove this material is with a pressure washer. Be careful, as some pressure washers are capable of gouging softer woods. Allow the deck to dry thoroughly. This will take at least two sunny days.

  6. 6

    Sand the deck with an orbital sander. If your deck is 100 square feet or less, a hand-held orbital sander may be sufficient. However if your deck is any larger you will want to consider renting a floor sander from your local rental store. Start with a 50-grit paper and move to a finer 80-grit paper to finish. If your deck is especially damaged, start with a coarse 36-grit paper. When using the sander, keep the head moving. If you allow it to stay in one place too long it can create a low spot in your deck. Start with the highest and most damaged spots and work a quadrant at a time until you are satisfied with the finish.

  7. 7

    Change the sanding pads on the sander as they become flattened and disintegrate.

  8. 8

    If there are areas the large floor sander cannot reach, resurface these with a hand-held sander.

  9. 9

    Use the hand-held sander on all exposed corners and edges. Slightly round all the corners so there are no sharp edges to walk on. Inspect all the edges for cracks, as these can cause nasty splinters to anyone walking barefoot on the deck.

  10. 10

    Sweep or vacuum the deck to remove all sawdust.

  11. 11

    Paint, stain or seal the deck as desired.

Tips and warnings

  • If you choose to rent an orbital sander, most rental centres will let you return extra sanding disks and pads. As a rule, one pad/disk will sand 100 square feet.
  • If working with pressure treated wood, use proper respiratory protection to avoid inhaling the sawdust, as it can be hazardous.
  • Don't rent a belt sander unless you are experienced with its use. While this type of sander will remove material faster than an orbital sander, it is easy to remove too much material and damage your deck.

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