Hi Russ, we want to freshen up our wood deck and are a little overwhelmed with the different advice available online.  Could you help? – R.N.

Hi R.N., I’ve submitted your question to one of our professionals at Kingfisher Painting who was more than happy to help. – Russ

To Consider

  • Walking surfaces should be regularly maintained, we recommend annually or bi-annually depending on exposure.
  • Different coatings will specify different maintenance cycles.  Use the product recommendation as a guide coupled with your own inspections.
  • A walking surface that is not exposed to sun or standing water and has little traffic could go 3 years or more.  Inspect regularly.
  • Keep deck free of debris, specifically vegetative debris like rotting leaves, pine needles, etc.  It is important to keep gaps between boards open and clear to allow for proper drainage and air flow.  This is something to especially pay attention to in the fall.  Don’t let water pool and stand.
  • If you have a north facing or heavily shaded deck it may be prone to mildew growth.  Mildew should be cleaned every 6 months to a year.  If left it will stain and could eventually compromise the coating.  Mildew can be treated with a mild bleach solution (5-10%).  Soak the mildew with the bleach solution, agitate, leave for 10 minutes and then thoroughly rinse.
  • Decks that are built too close to the ground and do not have sufficient air flow will be prone to coating failure.
  • If building a deck from scratch, coat all six sides of the material with your coating prior to construction.

Prepping a Weathered Cedar Deck with no Coating on it

First we apply a wood conditioner such as Cloverdale Sharkskin Wood Conditioner and Cleaner.  This product is a concentrate which can mixed to various strengths depending on how dirty and greyed your wood is.   We apply it with a garden pump sprayer.  Once you have soaked down an area with the conditioner you need to keep it wet while it works.  This is done by misting the area periodically.  If you’re in direct sun, you’ll have to stay on top of it!  Give the conditioner 10-20 minutes to work and then agitate it with a stiff brush.  Don’t get too far ahead of yourself – alternate between applying the conditioner, agitating, and pressure washing (see below):

The next step is a controlled pressure wash.  The key here is to set your pressure wash at a level where you are going to scour the surface of the deck without damaging the wood.  For soft wood such as cedar between 400 and 600 psi is good, but given that many pressure washers don’t have a gauge on them, proceed with caution.  Start with your wand at least 18” away from the surface you’re working on and move in closer until you can see that you are cleaning and scouring the deck.  You should not need to get any closer than 8”. Keeping the pressure washing wand a consistent distant from the deck and moving at an even speed, you will methodically “scrub” the deck.  The combination of the conditioner and the pressure wash will renew and recolour even the most weathered deck.

Sanding is optional.  The process of restoring your deck with a controlled pressure wash/conditioner can “fur” the deck, meaning raise patches of wood fiber that look a little like fur.  If there is lot of furring, these areas may show differently and darker if you are applying a pigmented translucent stain.  If we sand the deck we usually take it to 60 grit with orbital or belt sanders.

Prepping a Weathered Cedar Deck with Coating on it

If the deck has a coating that you want to remove, you will need to strip it.  The stripping process can be done in a similar fashion as described as above, except instead of a wood conditioner you would apply a stripper.  Cloverdale Sharkskin Stripper is one such product.  It may require multiple applications to fully strip the deck and you may need to manually scrape and/or sand some areas.  We recommend landscape fabric or mesh to capture the paint debris… Save yourself some time cleaning up!

If the deck has a coating and you intend to recoat with an opaque product you will need to ensure that any areas where the existing coating is unsound are thoroughly prepped.  In most cases we could go about this through a process of scraping and sanding areas where there is paint failure and ensuring any coatings that remain are sound.

Kingfisher's Preferred Products


Great looking, green product, relatively easy to apply.  Comes in Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, and Solid.  Can be applied to wood with up to 21% moisture content which is great for a quick turnaround after your washing.  Available through Lumberworld in Victoria.


Great looking translucent stains, wide colour range, custom tints, green product.  Available through Pacific Paints, Keating X Rd location only.


One of our standby options is Cloverdale Sharkskin Deck and Siding Stain.  It’s a waterborne alkyd making it fairly durable, and it’s a good bang for the buck. It is less prone to flashing (sheen differences where paint has overlapped) than other waterborne alkyds such as Flood or SuperDeck.


Surface preparation is a crucial first step to ensure a beautiful and lasting wood finish. FLOOD® Wood Care offers products for preparing  all types of wood, and for cleaning stained or resurfaced wood between applications.

Thanks for reading,

David at Kingfisher Painting

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