Deck Image - Deck Article - The Wood Surgeon - Restoring and taking care of your outdoor wooden structures
Deck Image - Deck Article - The Wood Surgeon - Restoring and taking care of your outdoor wooden structures

Restoring & Taking Care of Your Outdoor Wooden Structures… The Straight Goods.

By Guest Post

Mike’s Advice / Guest Posts

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018 @ 2:56pm

Article By: Terry Owen, The Wood Surgeon,

A lot of bad advice out there….

I have spoken to hundreds of frustrated homeowners that have followed advice from various sources on how to refinish, protect and maintain their wooden outdoor living spaces. Some advice is totally wrong and others are missing some key elements that will leave you in a perpetual state of wishing you had concrete.

I met a woman with a beautiful home in Pickering Ontario, who was letting her cedar siding and decks rot because her designer told her to “let your wood age naturally to a lovely silver patina to achieve a rustic appeal”. I believe that wood only “ages naturally” when it’s a tree. The moment we harvest and take the tree away from its source of life force…decay is imminent but with the right information and proper care, can we delay this process for decades.

I was very disappointed when I saw a “How To” video on-line from a well-known TV host who recommended a power wash, an 80 grit palm sander and a wire brush to refinish a cedar deck. The power wash is great start but I can’t imagine restoring a 1000 square foot deck with a palm sander and an 80 grit sandpaper is not strong enough to remove the remaining mildew or old product.

Did You Know?

When the sandpaper wears and is not replaced very frequently, the worn paper creates a surface similar to mill glaze by crushing and closing the cells/pores of the wood. The wire brush will cause horrible scaring, especially on a soft wood like cedar.

There are what I call “splash and dash” companies out there that will sell you an overpriced power wash and stain. This is a flawed process that relies on the untrained eye of the home owner. It may appear restored but is doomed to fail because it leaves a percentage of the surface decay behind as well as inconsistencies that will hamper the adhesion of the protective coating.

Just about every new deck owner has been told not to stain their deck for the first year or two. This is an old school train of thought passed down from generations of carpenters simply because we didn’t know how to deal with new wood. For years now we have had the technology to measure moisture content and know how to exfoliate crushed or blocked cells in the wood known to many as mill glaze. These are the two main challenges when protecting new structures. In many cases we can protect a wooden structure within a month of completion.

Knowledge is power

Understanding how elements of nature effect wood goes a long way in helping homeowners estimate their future maintenance costs and also determine whether or not they should explore lower maintenance material alternatives.

The two main adversaries of your outdoor wooden structure are sunlight and rain. Sunlight starts the process by bleaching and killing the fibres on surface of the wood creating that grey colour. That grey would be a “lovely patina” if it didn’t trap moisture. The combination of the two, trap airborne impurities such as dust, dirt, tree sap and even pet dander amongst other things. This collection creates mildew, a fungus that in the sunlight forms a hard shell over the wood that hampers hot and cold expansion and contraction or breathing as some would call it and this promotes cracking and warping. In the rain, it turns to a slime and acts like a sponge allowing the moisture to soak into the wood and create rot problems that you can’t see. Learn more at

Make It Right®