Deck Restoration Products – Saving Grace, or Lipstick on a Pig?

If your car looked like this, would you just paint it or purchase a new one?
If your car looked like this, would you just paint it or purchase a new one?

Every so often new decking products come on the market. These products always claim to be the “perfect solution,” and the last item you’ll ever need. While some products really do live up the hype, there are still plenty that fall short of their claims.

Over the years there has been an increasing number of homeowners using deck coating products to salvage their rickety old pressure treated decks.  Here’s some interesting things to consider before you decide to paint your deck with these new coating products.If your deck is over 20 years old and splintering, you should consider putting it out of its misery. But what if you’re just not ready to scrap it all and start over? Is using a deck coating product meant to squeeze a few more years out of your deck really worth your time and money? While these products market themselves as a sure no-brainer (After all, the upfront cost is cheaper than replacing your entire deck), the end result for many is like painting a car that has broken suspension.

This decking product doesn't fix any underlying problem with your deck, it just hides the issue.
This decking product doesn’t fix any underlying problem with your deck, it just hides the issue.

If your deck boards are in bad shape, encasing it with these deck coating products will not magically repair the damage. Once applied to your deck, you have to scrape the excess glop out between your deck boards with a putty knife. This is time consuming, and then if you’re scraping the product off the side of the boards, is your deck getting all the “protection” it really needs?

Here’s another point to consider; Because of their durability, lag bolts, stainless steel screws, and other non-corrosive fasteners are the standard when it comes to deck installation. This was not always the case. Before codes were changed years ago, galvanized fasteners were used. Even today, you can still read news reports about deck safety and other accidents where improper fastening methods were used and eventually led to collapse. The switch to stainless fasteners was made because galvanized fasteners pressure treated framing are completely incompatible. Galvanized steel is great with resistance to rust, but the corrosive chemicals within pressure treated material will still eat away at the fasteners. So, if you “restore” your current deck, these surface fasteners will be covered. How could you tell if your fasteners are bad? How can you tell if your decking is about to give way? You can’t.

Does this look safe to walk on? This is what you don't see when you encase your deck in this product.
Nails in a rotting ledger board. This is what you don’t see when you encase your deck in this product.

How does building the last deck you’ll ever need sound? Seems too good to be true, right? Remember what I said before about some claims being true? This is one of them. Real hardwood decking materials like Advantage Ipe and Cumaru are proven to last 50 plus years in any climate. Decks made of sustainably harvested decking thrive in hot and cold climates without the need for any special treatment. The great thing about these kinds of options is that even after their first use, they can be reclaimed. Take the Ipe used for the Coney Island boardwalk. Originally installed in the early 1940’s, this wood has been turned into high-end ipe furniture that pays homage to many of the area’s finest attractions.

At the end of the day you it’s all about the pros and cons. Sure, saving a few bucks up front sounds good. But is it really worth the risk of putting a band aid on a gun shot wound? If your deck is over 20 years old and was built using improper fasteners (especially around the ledger board!), building a new deck out of a lasting material might truly be the best way to restore your outdoor life.

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