How to breathe new life into your old deck

As summer draws near, and along with it the promise of hours of barbecues and outdoor entertaining, it’s probably time to have a good, hard look at your deck and see if it needs some love. New Zealand’s climate is harsh, so you should look to give your deck some attention at least every couple of years. Nothing makes your outdoor living area sing as much as a freshly restored deck! With that (and New Zealand’s conditions) in mind, here are the steps you can take to give new life to your old deck.

Assess its current condition
Thoroughly inspect your deck. Identify any structural issues, rot, or loose boards and make a plan to fix them. Ensure the deck’s frame and supports are still in good condition. Address any structural problems first to ensure safety. For help with this, contact your local NZCB builder.

Clean the deck
Remove all debris, leaves, and dirt from the surface. Then, use a stiff brush or broom to scrub the deck with a deck-cleaning solution or a mixture of water and mild detergent. You could also use a water blaster but be cautious as too much pressure will damage the wood. For decks with mould or mildew, use a deck-cleaner specifically designed for these issues.

Sand the surface
Sanding your deck can help remove old finish and smooth out any rough or splintered areas. Use a coarse grit sandpaper (60-80 grit) to start and then switch to finer grit (120-150 grit) for a smoother finish. Ensure you sand in the direction of the wood grain. Obviously if your deck has a grooved surface, don’t sand it down too much or it will become very slippery and dangerous when wet!

Replace any damaged boards
If any boards are rotten, cracked, or severely damaged, replace them with new ones. Ensure the replacements match the existing wood type and size so it’s not obvious your deck has been repaired!

Image supplied by Abodo. Sand Decking in Protector - Pearl.

Apply a wood preservative
In New Zealand’s variable, and occasionally volatile climate, it’s essential to protect the wood of your deck from moisture and UV rays. Apply a high-quality wood preservative or wood stain to the entire deck. Make sure it’s designed for exterior use and is suitable for New Zealand conditions.

Seal your deck
After applying the wood preservative, seal the deck with a clear or tinted waterproofing sealant. This will provide an additional layer of protection against the elements. Make sure the sealant is suitable for New Zealand’s weather, as conditions can be quite wet.

Regular maintenance
To prolong the life of your deck, schedule regular maintenance. This includes reapplying sealant or stain every two to three years and keeping the deck clean and free from debris.

Consider shade and shelter
In areas with extreme weather conditions, you should consider adding a shade structure or pergola to protect your deck from harsh sun or heavy rain. This will help it stay looking great for longer.

Finally, it’s a great idea to enhance the overall look of your deck by adding potted plants, outdoor furniture, and outdoor lighting to complete your outdoor living area!

Once your deck is in ship-shape condition, it’s still important to periodically inspect it for loose railing, screws, or nails, and make any necessary repairs to ensure the ongoing safety of your friends and family. And, of course, be sure to follow any local regulations around deck maintenance, repairs, or renovations throughout this process.

Proper maintenance and protection are crucial for extending the life of your deck. Regularly inspecting and caring for your deck will ensure you and your family can enjoy a beautiful and safe outdoor space throughout the hot summer months and beyond.

For help with your deck maintenance or renovation, use the Find A Builder search function on

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