Best Treatment Products for Dry, Cracked Wood Decks

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A dry, cracked, wood deck is unsightly and often dangerous. Before applying products to your deck, inspect and repair rotted boards, protruding nails and all structural problems.


Restoring a wood deck provides years of enjoyment for outdoor entertainment and relaxation. Restoration of a wood deck involves more than one product, and the application of each product, in proper order, ensures an outcome that will be long-lasting and attractive.

Strippers and Cleaners

  • A worn deck often has remnants of peeling clear-coats, sealants and sometimes paint. Additionally, an older deck may have years of accumulated dirt, animal droppings, spilled food, mold and tree sap. Use the stripper first, then use the cleaner to neutralize the stripper to clean any additional stains and grime.

    When choosing a stripper and cleaner pay attention to the level of volatile organic compound (VOC), the VOC rating. Low VOC products will have less off-gassing and fumes. There are many effective green products on the market now which contain no VOCs. VOC standards and compliance differ from state to state.

Wood Brighteners

  • Your deck may still look dingy and grey after cleaning. The solution is to use a wood brightener. Wood brightener will remove rust stains and other discoloration. Exterior wood brighteners can be applied with a mop roller or pump type sprayer. After the brightener sits on the surface for 15 to 20 minutes, it can be washed off with a garden hose.

Deck Stains

  • Once your deck is stripped and cleaned you may stain the deck or leave the wood natural. There are many choices available in color and transparency, from clear to opaque. Opaque colors are less penetrating, consequently reducing the protective quality of stains.

    Water-based stain dries quicker and lasts seven to eight years, while decks stained with oil-based stain will need to be re-stained every three to four years. Fumes and toxicity are generally less with water-based stains, however, there are now low VOC oil-based stains available.

Deck Sealants

  • Sealants protect your deck from sun, moisture, stains and spills. Resin and epoxy fortified sealants resist mildew naturally as they are made with inorganic components that do not attract algae or mold Oil-based sealants also have additives that protect wood from mildew and UV light. Some sealants are available with color added to them that will brighten and enhance the natural color of your wood deck.

    Slip resistant components. such as sand, can be added to deck sealants for safety. Slip resistant additives are also commercially available in different grades and textures.

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