What Can I Use to Cover an Existing Wood Deck?

By Mike Schoonveld

Wooden decks are popular but not totally maintenance free. Many are made out of pressure-treated wood which is more resistant to rot than non-treated forms. While it is more resistant to rot, it can still dry out, weather to a dull gray color, display age cracks and become unsightly. Once it gets that way, nothing will restore it to a brand new look. The best option may be to cover it with something to give it a different look.


After “AstroTurf” was installed in the Houston Astro Dome in 1966, many home owners bought it to cover their decks or other outdoor spaces with this innovative carpeting. AstroTurf’s bright green color was a turn-off for many, but carpet makers learned there is a market for outdoor carpeting. Visit a carpet store and see if any of the new earth-toned or patterned carpets appeal to your sense of style.


If your deck is still solid and your biggest complaint is that it looks weathered and gray, a coat of paint can brighten and restore it to a space you are proud to own. Special paints are available designed for use as a floor paint in outdoor areas. Choose one of those. Preparation of the wood is very important. You may need to pressure wash the wood and scrub it with deck-cleaning soap that kills and removes the mold that turned the wood gray originally. Let it dry thoroughly and sand it smooth using a handheld sanding tool before applying the first coat of paint.


If your deck is well built and as sturdy as the inside of your home, it’s possible to cover the deck with ceramic or natural stone tile, giving it more of a patio look than a deck look. Again, surface preparation of the existing deck boards will be a vital key to the success of the project, or you may wish to install a cement board underlayment over the deck boards and then bind the tile to the cement board. Don’t use this option if your deck floor is springy or the structure isn’t solid, as the movement will cause the tiles or grout to crack.


It’s possible to add another layer of deck boards over the old ones. A better plan is to remove the old deck boards first. If your deck was built with screws, removing the old boards is a fairly simple task. Find the screwdriver bit that matches the head of the screw and back them out with a drill or powered driver. Older decks nailed down with ring-shanked or galvanized nails aren’t so easy to disassemble. Try grinding the heads off the nails with a grinding tool or cutting them with a rotary tool and cutting tip to make dislodging the old boards easier. Whether you just cover the deck with new boards or replace the deck boards, maintaining the new boards with the proper sealants and stains will ensure that your new surface will give you years of service.

© Demand Media 2011