We built our redwood deck a few years ago and the stain and sealer faded and chipped almost immediately. It was time for a new deck finish! Watch and see how to refinish and restore a wood deck using an oil finish instead of a stain and sealer.
Back when we bought our Birch House fixer-upper, we spent the first summer building a deck to enjoy the backyard — before we ever did anything with the dated interior. It has been a great addition (with our wedding arbor arch and then our modern pergola with lights) — but the stain and sealer we used on the redwood deck boards just didn’t hold up at ALL. So frustrating! but just look at it now after our deck restoration process:
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DIY Oil Finish Deck Restoration
We were so frustrated that the original stain and sealer didn’t even last the entire first summer. We later cleaned up the deck and tried another layer of stain and sealer, but the results were similarly dismal. The stain and sealer just did not last with the sun and exposure. See this fading and chipping?
So this summer, we finally decided to do what we wish we had done to begin with, and refinish and restore the deck using an oil finish, instead of the more common deck stain and sealer.
Refinishing a deck with oil was a long process but the results look so good. We’re also very confident that the oil deck finish will be durable and easy to maintain, which is what we’ve wanted all along. That makes the extra work worth it!
How to Refinish a Redwood Deck with an Oil Finish
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As you can see in the video above, refinishing a deck takes some time but the results for our deck have been 100% worth it. If your deck needs restored, here’s how to re-stain a wood deck using an oil finish.
Tools and Materials for an Oil Deck Finish
Step 1: Remove the Old Stain
Wash the loose flecks of stain from the deck with a power washer.
For those stubborn bits of leftover stain, 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.
This part of the process took me and a buddy about half a day.
Step 2: Clean the Wood Deck
Use wood deck cleaner to give the now-bare wood a good cleaning to prepare for the new oil finish. The best method I found was to mix the deck cleaner in a bucket, mop it on, then use the pressure washer to clean it off.
I did this the day after we removed the stain. This was a really satisfying step of the restoration — check it out in the video to see how the cleaner really helped!
Step 3: Sand the Deck
Use 60 and 80 grit sandpaper, a belt sander, and an orbital sander to sand the deck to a nice smooth finish. This also restored the pink and red tones of the redwood lumber that we love so much.
We let the deck dry for a weekend before sanding down the rough texture created by removing the stain with the pressure washer. The sanding process took a few days — but again, so worth it!
Step 4: Oil the Deck
We chose this Penofin Penetrating Oil Finish for our deck, in a color called Transparent Redwood. It was easy to apply: just brush on, wait, then wipe off the excess.
In the future, rather than having to refinish the entire deck, we can just wipe on a fresh coat of the oil. The oil won’t chip or wear off, so the deck will stay looking nice and just need re-oiling every year or so.
Tips for Restoring a Redwood Deck
- A pressure washer is totally worth the initial investment! Ours saved me days and days of hard work and sped up the DIY deck restoration process.
- Work when the weather is cool. If possible, it would have made the process much more enjoyable to be working on the deck at a cooler time of year. The Utah summer heat made the process even more exhausting.
- Check the forecast — AND watch the skies. As we were oiling the deck, an unforecast rain storm hit our area, at a time of year when we rarely get rain! The precipitation made the oiled part of the deck which hadn’t dried yet splotchy, which requires re-cleaning and re-oiling to even out the finish.
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