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How to Blend New and Old Deck Boards 4.6/5 (7)

New and Old Deck Boards

New and Old Deck Boards

There are many reasons why you would have a mix of new and old deck boards but it can be a common situation. The most frequent reason is that some of the boards needed replaced due to decay or wood rot while other board were still in good condition. It is also very common for a deck owner to protect the deck with a stain once all the repairs have been made. The dilemma is that new boards and old boards look very different when they are stained.

To understand why this happens may help you to minimize the problem. Once old deck boards weather the top layer of wood fibers begin to gray and become soft. Newer deck boards are denser and are very hard. The older boards will absorb more deck stain and appear much darker than the new denser deck boards which appear lighter.

To better blend new and old deck boards, it is necessary to wash the entire deck. Use a good wood cleaner and a pressure washer to remove any dirt, mold, mildew, and graying from the older deck boards. The newer deck boards will normally have mill glaze on them which can prevent good stain penetration. Use the same method to clean all the new boards as well to remove any mill glaze.

Cleaning the entire deck in this manner will also help the new coat of deck stain perform better. A clean wood surface prepped correctly will ensure better performance, coverage, and lasting protection.

After cleaning the wood, apply a wood brightener to the deck. A wood brightener will lighten all the older darker boards and open the wood pores of the newer deck boards for better stain penetration. This step can help a lot when trying to blend new and old deck boards.

It can also help to sand the boards once the deck is clean and dry. Sanding the old wood boards will remove additional soft wood fibers to create a harder surface. Sanding newer already dense boards will have the opposite effect and soften the fibers up a little and remove any mill glaze that cleaning did not.

In addition to these steps for blending new and old deck boards, using a quality semi-transparent deck stain will help. Follow these prepping and staining tips and your newly repaired deck will not only be safer, it will definitely look better as well.

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40 responses to “How to Blend New and Old Deck Boards”

  1. Nell Best says:

    did not do any of the above. some slats and tops on posts are new. already stained. big mess is there hope?

  2. Megan says:

    We have a deck that we stained a couple years ago and an addition to the deck from earlier this year. We want to restain the older part and stain the new part to match. Should we strip the old stain first, then use an oxygen cleaner and brighten everything? We started by using a bleach-based deck cleaner on the old part, which I see now was a big mistake. It left splotchy areas of bleached wood/old stain and made the wood fuzzy. How do we get back on the right track? Thanks!

    • Deck Stain Help says:

      Megan, strip than brighten the wood. Lightly sand if you have furring after it dries. This will restore the wood before the staining.

  3. laren says:

    no offense, but this article doesn't address the issue suggested by the title, namely how to blend new and old deck boards. Doing what was put forth in the article will not blend them, generally speaking. If you really want a blend, then after doing what was suggested in the article, you are going to have to experiment with stains on the new boards primarily and then a protective coating over all of it.

  4. LindaB says:

    Our deck has new and old wood so we used an solid stain. It started peeling so we have scraped, cleaned, and it has dried but we can't decide what product to use next. Any suggestions. We've ready many reviews of products but don't feel there are many good options. Has anyone used Duckback Superdeck Elastomeric Paint? Did it work? Can't find any reviews on it.

  5. JL Mitchell says:

    I have a 6 year old deck, this will be my 3rd time staining, there are sections of the deck that the stain has peeled off. In the past I used a transparent stain, this time I believe the better road is to use solid stain. My question is after I power wash the deck what prep work do I need to complete to get one solid smooth colour on the whole deck. Also can you recommend a solid stain brand that will last more then one year.

  6. Dave says:

    Mixing new red cedar with old redwood. Should I sand before/after brightening and what grit sandpaper do you recommend for the new cedar and old redwood?

    • Sand first and brighten after. Rinse wood well with water. 80 or 60 grit paper.

      • Dave says:

        Would it make sense to sand the New wood with a rougher grit (e.g. 60) to soften the fibers and the Old wood with a smoother grit (80) to harden the fibers? I was thinking this would help equalize the absorption since the old wood absorbs like a sponge and it lays on top of the new wood after sanding both samples with 100 grit.

        Also, the new wood was laid 2 weeks ago and I cleaned/brightened 1 week ago. Should I wait and let the wood age before I sand and re-brighten or should I just sand and stain it now?

  7. trench says:

    Question – Blending old and new deckboards. Undecided on final product. Completed cleaning of deck floor and stripping of old, oil-based stain that was mostly on the spindles. Next up: first sanding, then a brightening product. Haven't used a power sander before, but can rent one pretty cheap. Can an amateur power sander handle a heavy-duty sander without making a grievous, irreversible mistake? My deck nails/screws are countersunk fairly well, so I think I can go across them with no issues — at least, lightly. But how skilled to do you have to be to sand the entire floor evenly with no bad cuts?

  8. Erika R says:

    What grade of sandpaper would you use to sand old and new wood?

  9. Monique says:

    i have an old redwood fence that I'm attaching a new redwood trellis/posts. I was advised to use a semi transparent stain and I am planning on using the Arborwood brand but don't know what stain is going to match them both. I want something along the cedar or natural color. Do I need to buy two different colors of stain or will one work? I am getting it pressure washed and could put a brightener to it if necessary. any suggestions?

  10. John says:

    what is the best way to get semi-transparent stain off the vertical spindles (my are 1 inch square by 3 feet)?



  11. MarcB says:

    I am trying to restore a 20 year old cedar deck (2×4). I have used a stripper and a power washer (turned down to about 1500 PSI) to remove the layers of old staing, mildew and crud. I'm having to also replace some of the boards due to rot. I have found some weathered old cedar boards at a used building supply store. The boards look very porous and grainy so I'm thinking of renting a drum floor sander to smooth out the deck. Should I still use a cleaner before I stain after I sand? BTW, I'm going to apply TWP 100 natural cedar semi transparent.

  12. Norrie says:

    I am doing the final sanding on a cedar deck. Some of the boards have been replaced. The total deck has been sanded with a 60 grit. I have three questions:
    1. what grit should I use for the final sanding?
    2. do I still need to use the restore a deck products since I have removed the previous stain on the old boards?
    3. my preference is to use a brush, do you have any other suggestions?
    I will be using the Armstrong Clark Amber Stain

  13. loretta says:

    I am staining my deck with 1501 cedartone. Some boards are a nice golden color and some are dull greyish after the application. The deck was powerwashed three weeks ago. Why do you think there is such a noticeable difference.

  14. Jean Williams says:

    I have a cypress ceiing in my den that we put up 31 years ago. The ceiling also had box built cypress beams, which we recently removed. We whitewashed the ceiling and it is beautiful except for where the beams were. That area won't blend with the rest of the ceiling no matter what we do. Also, there is a dark line that seems to outline where the beams were. It is a slight line but we can't get rid of it. We have tried sanding, that made the differences show up more. We tried stripper, denatured alcohol, etc and nothing we do blends the two. Any help would be greatly appreciated. We are trying to find a solution other than having to spend a fortune to put new beams back up to cover the discolored wood.

  15. Juanita says:

    Since I just found this article today, I was wondering if I need to go back and do the deck cleaner when I used a pressure washer and sanding the old boards.I did nothing to the new boards yet. Can I just sand them like the rest of the deck and then do the brightener or go back and follow your suggestions? It's been a lot of work sanding if I can get the same effect as the cleaner and then move on to the brightener–would be great news! Thanks!

  16. ctmeda says:

    Three new boards added to replace rotten ones. Deck has already had every thing done to it before new boards were added. Now a problem. What to do to the three boards to blend them in to old deck that will be acceptable. No thought was put into this issue when the decision to replace the boards due to safety issues.

  17. Brad says:

    I have a deck that is all messed up, the whole thing needs to be sanded, stain stripped, and some boards definitely need to be replaced. Is this the correct order of operations:

    1. Replace Boards
    2. Stain strip
    3. Sand (What grit? I have a power sander and brush, and was thinking for the more damaged poles and railings, to use the power sander, and for the furred deck boards, to use the brush.)
    4. Brighten
    5. Refinish/stain/everything else (I'll worry about this at a later date)

  18. Rich says:

    I have an older deck that will need about 20% replacement of the deck boards. Is there a way to tell if they were PT or Cedar 2 X 6 boards? If PT, how to prep and stain to match old wood?

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*This is first and foremost a help site from our experience as wood restoration contractors. All stain and prepping manufacturer directions were followed with our reviews and ratings. We offer no guarantee of similar results. Take in consideration that wood and deck stain results may differ due to prepping procedures, different wood types, exposure to UV radiation, natural weathering, etc.