6 Tips on Restoring Your Redwood Deck

Redwood lumber is one of few wood species that can be allowed to weather naturally. This low-maintenance option results in a look often preferred for a rustic appearance.

Redwood is preferred for siding and decks because of its attractive appearance, stability, and durability.

If left natural or with the minimal protection of poorly maintained finishes, any exterior wood’s appearance will change color. As redwood weathers over the years, several natural color changes take place and will vary from one climate to another.

In a damp or humid climate, redwood lumber will get darker. As time goes on, this darkening may be rinsed away by rain and it will change to a soft driftwood gray.

A redwood structure sheltered from moisture may remain dark throughout its lifetime. Therefore, the location of the deck plays an important part in the decision to leave the redwood unfinished.

Restore your redwood back to the desired color by identifying the cause of the discoloration, remedying the problem, and recondition the redwood to revitalize its natural beauty. Applying a finish can help keep your redwood deck looking like new for years and lock in the color and look you want.

Benefits of Redwood

restore redwood deck

Using redwood for your decking offers many benefits. From the way it’s grown and how it can be reused or repurposed, redwood offers environmental and aesthetic advantages.

Redwood is one of nature’s most maintenance-free building materials, with unparalleled natural resistance to insects and decay. Abundant, renewable, and energy-efficient, redwood is a beautiful choice for many reasons:

  • Delivers natural beauty and durability
  • Preserves its natural beauty and structural integrity with little maintenance
  • Stays cool throughout the summer
  • Has a natural resistance to shrinking, warping, and checking
  • Stores more carbon than is emitted over its entire life cycle
  • Can be restored with minimal cost
  • Is affordable and adds value to your home
  • Meets strict fire codes

If a redwood deck gets a fair amount of sun, it should be cleaned and resealed at least every other year. If it’s mainly shaded and you haven’t developed mildew, you should have it sealed every three years. Cleaning and sealing should be viewed as a regular maintenance program and will prolong the life of the deck, as well as maintain its look.

Keep Your Redwood Deck Looking Beautiful

Restoring a redwood deck does take some time. Refinishing goes a long way to ensure that your redwood deck will retain that warm, beautiful color for a long time. If you don’t have the time for another DIY project, hire a reputable contractor who is experienced in the field to complete the job for you.

Using the following tips will achieve the best results and keep your deck looking like new and prolonging its life.

1. Getting Started

Before any stain is applied to your redwood deck, there are a few general tips you should follow. Apply finishes on days when the weather is stable and the there is no wind.  The perfect temperature for applying a finish is between 50 and 70 degrees. Check the forecast and watch the skies. If it rains while you’re applying the finish, it will make the deck splotchy, which means you’ll have to reclean your deck.

Don’t use wire brushes or steel wool on redwood as metal particles may become embedded in the wood. They can also react with the wood and cause it to stain.  Instead, use non-metallic stiff-bristle brushes.

2. Remove the Old Stain

Remove any debris such as dirt, sawdust, or leaves from your deck. One of the most effective methods of removing an old finish or heavy surface grime is power washing.

Power washing is fast and prepares your structure for refinishing. If there is still stain left on the surface,  you can apply wood stain and finish stripper while the deck is still wet. Let the stain remover sit, then use the pressure washer to finish removing the stain.

You can certainly do this on your own; however, it is advisable to discuss your options with a contractor. They will know what the appropriate setting on the power washer should be to avoid damaging the wood’s surface fibers.

3. Cleaning 

Regardless of the finish you choose, keeping redwood  clean and clear of leaves and other debris will make restoring it easy. Cleaning redwood is simple and easy. For day-to-day, surface-level dirt, grime, and debris, all you need for cleaning redwood is a garden hose. Rinse off the affected area when you notice build-up. 

For stubborn dirt,  use a stiff-bristled brush and a bucket of warm water mixed with a mild detergent, and scrub the affected area. You can also use a wood deck cleaner to give the now-bare wood a good cleaning to prepare the surface for the new finish. Simply apply it with a mop  and use the garden hose or pressure washer to rinse it off.

Occasionally, mildew will build upon wood, especially in damper climates and if the deck doesn’t have direct sunlight. Mildew is identifiable as dark spots on the wood surface. To treat milder instances of mildew build-up, simply treat the area with warm water and mild detergent. Follow scrubbing by rinsing the affected area with household bleach, then with clean water.

Your best defense against mildew growth is the application of a water-repellent sealant that contains a mildewcide.  Ensure that your redwood deck is thoroughly dry before applying a sealant or finish.

4. Sanding

Sanding your deck is optional. It’s used to get rid of the rough texture and create a smooth finish. 60 and 80 grit sandpaper, a belt sander, and an orbital sander are all helpful tools you can use to complete this part.

Sanding will help soften the surface for better stain absorption. You should let the deck dry completely before you sand it. It will take some time, depending on the size of your deck.

5. Choosing the Right Finish

Choosing the right finish can help keep your redwood deck looking beautiful for years. Use a deck stain recommended specifically for redwood. Varnishes and polyurethane crack and peel when applied to exteriors. They are difficult and expensive to apply and remove.

A semi-transparent penetrating deck stain is ideal. This type of stain will enhance the redwood’s natural beauty and eliminate weathering. Water-repellent finishes that include UV protection and a mildewcide offer the most protection. Slightly tinted stains will last longer than completely clear finishes.

You also must decide between an oil based finish or a water based finish. There are pros and cons to each choice.

Oil based Deck Finish

+   Easy to apply

+    Penetrates the wood without forming a film

+    Doesn’t crack or peel

  • Takes longer to dry
  • Regular cleaning is recommended

Water based Deck Finish

+    Dries fast

+    Forms a protective film

+    Requires some periodic cleaning

  • Will likely crack and peel
  • Must be completely removed before refinishing

If you don’t know whether the old deck finish is water or oil-based, here’s how to tell:

  • If the old finish absorbs water and isn’t peeling or cracking, it’s most likely oil based. In this case, use a deck cleaner with a scrub brush to clean the surface. Apply your new finish according to the directions on the can.
  • If the old deck finish is cracking or peeling or doesn’t absorb water, it’s likely water based. To remove water-based wood deck finishes, you’ll need to use a paint stripper and do a fair amount of sanding before applying your new finish.
  • For a new deck that’s never been finished, wait a year before applying a deck finish. During the waiting period, clean with a deck cleaner and a scrub brush at three to six months, and then again right before finishing.
6. Applying the Finish

Prime the wood before applying paints or other external finishes. When staining redwood, it is important to only apply as much stain as the wood can handle. If the stain is not absorbed within 10-15 minutes, wipe the excess off the surface.

The stain should be applied to the entire length of each board before moving to the next to eliminate lap marks. Start with the deck railings, and then the deck floor.

Don’t mix incompatible materials. Finish failures may result from mixing incompatible products or applying them over one another.

Moisture is the most common cause of finish failures. To avoid nail stains, choose the finest hot-dipped galvanized nails available. Opting for lower-quality nails may result in stains in the finished product.

Trusted Redwood Deck Restoration Specialists

Redwood decks are a beautiful accent to any home. The rich color, the solid feel, the detailed grain, all amount to years of enjoyment and beauty.

At The Painting Pros, we are experts in refinishing and restoring your exterior redwood features. Our trained painters know how to prep and apply to give your deck the best finish.

We have an unrelenting commitment to exceeding expectations, which is why our company is sought after by homeowners. Your happiness and enjoyment of your outdoor space are our most important testament to quality.

To experience friendly and personable customer service, choose The Painting Pros to give your redwood or any wood deck long-lasting beauty and protection. Contact us today for a free consultation.