Introduction: Modern Deck Makeover - on a Budget

About: Army Vet. I love learning & being creative. I am back!

Have you ever thought about doing a deck makeover? If so, this Instructable might be for you! I recently decided to revitalize our deck. But, I didn't want to spend a lot of money, or put in too much physical work, because I had a pretty big surgery a month prior. When I did the deck, I didn't plan on creating an Instructable. So, I apologize there aren't more in-depth photos. I decided to share this anyway, because I think it might give some people inspiration - or an idea or two about fixing up a deck, on a budget. My project was less than $60.

The reason I wanted to fix the deck is because I bought this house about a year ago, and this is how it looked when I got it. I enjoy looking out the dining room doors that lead to the deck, and had a hard time even seeing our beautiful back yard through the deck railing. It made the deck seem smaller, and I couldn't fit our furniture on it at that time. My deck boards were not in great shape - some were loose, some were a bit deformed and they were all very dingy and old.

Step 1: Supplies Needed to Make Your Deck New Again

In order to create a modern version of our deck, we needed a few supplies. My son assisted me in removing the deck posts, and we used two drills to do this.


  1. Drill (I have the Matrix Drill)
  2. Crowbar (optional)
  3. Wheelbarrow (optional)
  4. Broom
  5. Power Washer (or regular hose)
  6. Deck Stain (I used Thompson's Water Seal Deck & House in the color Black Walnut - 1 gallon was $18.97)
  7. Reciprocating Saw (optional - I used it to remove 4 x 4s) & I also used a Jig Saw attachment with my drill
  8. Decking Boards, if needed (I bought a couple of them)

My Total Cost: $60

I ended up buying two cans of the deck stain and only using about 1 1/4. The additional $10 I spent was on some paint rollers and mop heads. I ended up having more success with staining using a regular mop. I bought a wooden mop handle for less than a dollar at Menards and attached the mop head to it. You can also remove the top from an old broom, and use that handle to attach the mop head or even the paint roller to it. That can help save some money.I also purchased a couple deck boards to replace one row.

*Note: my deck stain containers were much larger than those in the photo above.

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Step 2: Research, Plan & Then Remove Those Posts!

Research & Laws

If you like the way my deck turned out, and you are thinking of doing something similar - please check out your local or state building codes first. I know, I know, this isn't fun to even mention - but please do this. In general, in the United States, decks that are taller than 30 inches will require a guardrail. Stairs with four or more risers generally require handrails. Please check the codes here or look up the state codes. I lucked out, since our deck is only about 22 inches tall. I really prefer the clean and modern look of not having the railing. Please proceed with caution after doing your research and following the local & state laws - do so at your own risk. Sorry, but I had to put a little disclaimer!

Getting Started

My son and I began removing the rails or slats, one-by-one, with our drills. Some of the screws were quite embedded in the old wood, so take your time in removing them. I even saved the deck screws, which are really expensive, as they were in great shape. I discarded any that may have been stripped. It didn't take a very long time to remove the slats. It was a bit more difficult to remove the larger, longer top pieces of railing. At times it might help to use a crowbar in areas that are difficult to locate and remove the screws.

Cutting Posts

On our deck, we had about six 4 x 4 thick, heavy-duty posts sticking up through the deck, which helped provide stability for the deck railing. This was the most challenging part of the deck renovation. I ended up removing some deck boards that made up the first row (closest to the stairs). This is where the 4 x 4 pieces were that I needed to have better access to. I wanted to cut off the top part of them. I created several images in Sketchup, so you can understand exactly what I mean here.

It wasn't easy to cut through those 4 x 4s, but I managed. I originally only had a jig saw drill attachment for my Black & Decker Matrix drill. And, I did manage to cut one or two posts off with it. But, I then used a reciprocating saw to cut off the rest of the posts. I cut them off so they would be flush with the height of the deck. I hope that makes sense. I needed space above them, because I needed to replace the boards that made up the first row, closest to the stairs. I needed to do that because on my deck, that row of boards had square cutouts for the 4 x 4s. Since I removed the 4 x 4s, I needed to remove those boards and replace them. I bought a couple replacement boards at Menards, just regular pre-treated decking wood. Since the deck stain color I bought was so dark, it ended up blending in seamlessly when I stained the wood.

Step 3: Finishing Up - Prepping & Staining

After you've removed everything you wanted to remove, and fixed up any loose boards, then it's time to do some prep work for the staining. If you have a power washer, that would help out a lot. I do not have one, and I think it still turned out great. Power wash the deck so that it's super clean, or use a hose like I did. Give it time to dry fully before you even think of staining it. If you are extra motivated, once fully dry, you can also do some sanding of the surface area that has imperfections or any flaking. I didn't need to do anything extensive, but I did do a light sanding. I then swept the deck really thoroughly.

Make sure the weather is right the day you plan on staining - not too scorching hot, and definitely not rainy! Follow the instructions on the stain that you purchased, and take your time staining the deck. I originally attempted to stain it with a paint roller, but it did not work well at all for me. I had a lot better success in using a cheap mop from the store. It was easier to reach into the cracks between the wood and all the different areas of each board. I tried to not use too much stain at once, and blend out as much as possible. I also used a hand brush to fill in any cracks that I missed. That is all it took to complete the project! For me, I completed it over a span of several days to a week. I hope this helped inspire you to do a nice deck makeover! :)

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