Jason in Georgia needed some help with his deck, so he sent Wood. It’s Real. an email

 Hi guys – I recently bought a house with a fabulous deck, but now what..? I never had one before and don’t know where to begin or how to go about maintaining it.

help with deck

I’m located about 40 minutes East of Athens, Georgia and I’m not sure of the deck’s age. The deck is painted and I am torn if repainting it will be the right “next step” or if I should do some other maintenance as well. I really lik the deck and it is huge, but this is all new to me.

I need help with my deck

The condition of the paint is ok, but definitely could be better. I had heard that repainting helps more than sealing it and/ or staining it. Last year when I sprayed a cleaner on it some of the paint peeled.

deck help

Thanks very much.

Jason – I think we can help.

First, the “other areas of maintenance” you mention above should come probably first. We’ll start and finish with those.


Judging by how the deck the deck boards are fastened—hand nails—it looks to be somewhere around 20-years old. Technically that puts it at the end of what could be called its “service life.”  Therefore, the first thing we’d recommend is a deck safety check. Check out this video for tips.

Lots of factors go into determining the soundness of a deck structure and if this is all new to you, we recommend hiring a professional home inspector or remodeling contractor for this. Among other things, a safety inspection will discover if the deck is fastened to the house properly, that there’s no rot in the posts and that all bolted connections are snug. Since it sounds like you just bought this house, we assume there was a home inspection and that it included the deck. You can check the report or with the home inspection company to make sure that was done correctly.

Assuming everything is OK structurally, you can refinish your deck.


Prep is the key to a successful paint job. From what we can see in the photos, we’d recommend cleaning and power washing the deck.

Cleaning with the proper detergent will loosen dirt and it’ll help remove loose paint from the existing coating. Apply detergent with a garden sprayer, then agitat with a deck brush.

Then rinse with the pressure washer. It’s important to understand that a pressure washer doesn’t, on its own, clean anything. Just like water pouring out of your kitchen faucet doesn’t clean dirty dishes, a pressure washer is just a really powerful rinser.

Used improperly, it can damage your deck boards. Used correctly, it’ll further agitate and remove any loose paint. What’s left is pretty-well adhered and can typically be painted over.

Choose Finish

Next step is to choose the correct finish. A great place to do this is at the local professional paint store. They’re usually a good resource for selecting the products for your specific site conditions—and this includes the deck cleaner.

Apply Finish

Pressure Treated Southern Pine decks can be painted. As long as they’re clean and dry, they’ll hold paint. When applying paint ,work a few deck boards at a time with a brush or roller, going back and forth along the length of the boards.

Re-Deck the Deck

Considering the age of the deck, and if there is any decay present, it might be in your best interest to re-deck it. Assuming the frame is structurally sound, new deck boards and rails will make a huge difference and extend not only the deck’s service life, it’ll look absolutely great.

We hope this helps, Jason. Good luck with this project and let us know how else we can help.

For more information click here and here.

About the author

Mark Clement from My Fix It Up Life, knows more about tools than anyone has a right to know. From docks and decks to kitchen renovations, Mark loves moving fast on the jobsite. With his wife Theresa, Mark hosts the popular MyFixitUpLife talk show, is the general contractor for Food Network’s ‘Save My Bakery,’ and has been a project manager for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and expert guest on PBS, DIY Network, Discovery Channel, A&E, NBC’s The 10! Show, Good Day Philadelphia, and other national radio and TV programs. Mark contributes to Men’s Health, Professional Deck Builder, Old House Journal, This Old House, Popular Mechanics, Handy, and Extreme How-To magazines. He teaches clinics for JLC Live! and other trade shows, and is the former award-winning executive editor of Tools of the Trade. Mark is the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Carpenter’s Notebook.