Budget-Friendly Deck Restore - when replacement isn't an option

When replacing an old wood deck isn't an option, here is a budget-friendly deck restore idea for a fraction of the cost. With some deck repairs, refinishing, and a lot of elbow grease, we were able to give our 30-year-old cedar deck an almost like new makeover.

Our deck restoration is the second project in my Summer Deck Makeover series. For three weeks we've been working tirelessly, one DIY project at a time, to create a cozy and inviting conversation area on our backyard deck.

Budget-Friendly Deck Restore

Budget-Friendly Deck Restoration When Replacement Isn't An Option

Deck Makeover - Project Two

Refreshing our outdoor living space on a beer budget!

It all started with a plan to power wash our 16' x 16' cedar deck and freshen it up with a coat of stain. As many of you who own older homes can attest, most projects are not that simple because oftentimes you end up opening a can of worms. Such was the case when all that built up grunge was removed with the power washer and revealed some rotting and unsafe deck boards.


I'm not going to lie, my first preference would have been to replace ALL the deck boards with composite decking. Here in the Canadian prairies, our decks take a beating from our long, harsh winters.

Replacing our wood deck wasn't an option so we had to find a way to restore it on a beer budget.

Before I get into the meat and potatoes of this deck restoration, I've included a Materials List toward the bottom of this post. It contains affiliate links for your convenience so you can see what products I used or recommend for this project. What that means is if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a small portion of any sales at no additional cost to you, which supports the costs of running this site. See my full Disclosure Policy.

Replacing rotting boards

Six of the deck boards needed to be replaced. Thankfully, when they were removed, the deck joists underneath were still sound.

Budget-Friendly Deck Restore Replacing Rotting Boards

Replacing the cedar boards wasn't cheap at a cost of $20 per board but far less expensive than replacing them all. But now we had six nice clean boards that stuck out like sore thumbs.

I completely forgot to take a before picture of the entire deck but you get a pretty good idea of how terrible it looked from the picture below.

Budget-Friendly Deck Restore Replacing Rotten Wood Boards

Renting a floor sander

We pulled out the big guns and rented a floor sander. It took four 30 grit sanding pads to remove the residue from the old solid stain and the boards looking like the new ones.

Budget-Friendly Deck Restore Sanding Wood Deck Boards

Four hours later with a lot of blood (blisters) sweat and tears (of exhaustion), it was looking so much better and ready for semi-transparent stain.

...or so we thought.

Budget-Friendly Deck Restore Removing Rotting Board Ends

To our dismay, we discovered the ends of several boards against the house were rotting and unsafe to walk on. Years of moisture getting behind the boards took its toll. Again, replacing an entire deck was not in our budget so we had to come up with a way to salvage the boards without spending a lot of money.

Replacing the ends of each deck board

After a lot of deliberation, we decided to run new cedar boards at a right angle to the existing boards across the end of the deck. A few years ago we did this on the opposite end for the same reason. We used one row of cedar 2" x 6" boards and two rows of cedar 2" x 4" boards at a cost of around $70.

To do this approximately 12 inches were cut off the end of each board using a chalk line, a skill saw and a steady hand (not my coffee addicted shaky hands). The amount to cut off was determined by the distance to the first joist from the edge of the deck. We needed to be able to access the joist to screw in the new cross members which will support the long span of new deck boards.

Wood supports, cut from lumber we had on hand, were toenailed into the joists with wood screws every 16 inches. Starting with a cedar 2" x 4" deck board against the fresh cut, it was attached with two deck screws per joist.

We used the shaft of a screwdriver as a guide for the gap between each deck board. The next 2" x 4" deck board was attached the same way followed by the last 2" x 6" row against the house. Unfortunately, while I worked on other upcoming deck projects, photos were not taken of this step so we created the diagram below.

Budget-Friendly Deck Restore Diagram

Staining the restored deck

Before staining, the freshly sanded wood needed to be prepped. We used Behr Premium All In One Wood Cleaner to both clean and condition the wood for even stain coverage.

We stained the deck with Behr Premium Transparent Penetrating Oil Wood Finish in the color Cedar Naturaltone. It offers waterproofing, UV protection, and a dirt & mildew resistant finish.

The folks at Home Depot highly recommended the stain be applied with this deck stain brush and not rolled on. Being in our late 50's getting down on our hands and knees wasn't happening so we attached an extendable paint roller handle to the brush.

Budget-Friendly Deck Restore Stained Cedar Naturaltone

Along the apron of the deck, we used a solid Behr Deck Plus Stain in the color Sea Foam to cover the old California Rustic solid stain that's been on the deck for years. I'll be sharing more deck makeover projects using this stain color in upcoming posts.

Budget-Friendly Deck Restore Solid Stained Contrasting Apron

Deck restore cost breakdown

6 cedar deck boards = $120
3 cedar end boards = $70
Floor Sander rental with 4 - 30 grit pads = $80
1 container Behr Wood Cleaner = $20
1 can Behr Transparent Oil Stain = $54
1 can Behr Solid Stain = $46
Deck Brush = $15
Total Cost: $405

While our budget-friendly deck restoration project cost more than we anticipated, it was far easier on the pocketbook than replacing the entire deck.

We estimate replacing ALL the deck boards on our 16' x 16' deck with cedar would have cost approximately $1500. Replacing it with composite decking (which would have been my first choice) would be at least $2000. We'll leave that for the next owners.

Materials List

6 16-foot cedar deck boards
2 16-foot 2" x 4" cedar deck boards
1 16-foot 2" x 6" cedar board
Floor Sander (rental)
4 - 30 grit sanding pads
Behr Premium All In One Wood Cleaner
1 can Behr Premium Transparent Penetrating Oil Wood Finish (Cedar Naturaltone)
1 can Behr Solid Deck Plus Stain (Sea Foam)
Deck Stain Brush (with a shaft for a handle)
Extendable Paint Roller Handle
3-inch Deck Screws
Chalkline and Reel
Skill Saw

Deck Makeover Series Recap

Project One - DIY Birdhouse Sign
Project Two - Budget-Friendly Deck Restore
Project Three - Repurposed Solar Lights coming soon

I'll also be sharing the deck makeover project that nearly did me in and THE reason it's been so quiet on the blog for almost two weeks soon.💥😞
Budget-Friendly Wood Deck Restore

You will find this project linked to these fabulous link parties.



  1. Appreciate seeing the breakdown of the work and all of the costs. Thanks for the the article!!


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