DIY Deck Restore with Olympic Rescue It!
When I moved into my home it was in the middle of winter and I thought having a deck was a bonus and a great addition to the backyard. It wasn’t until that first spring rolled around that I realized my deck was yellow (yes, I’m not kidding, it was actually painted yellow) and in really bad repair. My home is 15 years old and the deck was an addition sometime after it was built but it hasn’t held up well. If I had all the money in the world I’d deconstruct the whole thing and rebuild. But….. that wasn’t an option the first two years of living in this house and now that I’m working on the third summer, I knew it was time to address the deck the good old poor man’s way. I’ve basically been planning on “restoring” or giving the deck a facelift since last summer and as soon as spring was here I went to Pinterest to conduct my research.
* This post is not sponsored by Olympic, nor am I being reimbursed for my review. I am simply sharing my experience.
I found there were several products available for the purpose of restoring an old and weathered deck. The brands I seriously looked into were: Rust-Oleum Restore 10x, Olympic Rescue It! Max, Olympic RescueIt! Moderate Restoration, and Behr Deck Over (which I didn’t look into in very much detail). All products are latex-based deck paints that come in various thicknesses. They have sand added for extra sticking power and texture. However, the thickest options (Rust-olem and Olympic Max) have terrible reviews, due to peeling that seems to occur after about 6 months or after a harsh winter which (and I am no scientist) is probably due to the inability of the paint to “breathe” or release trapped moisture because of the extremely thick coat of paint. After reading reviews I was torn, unsure both of which brand to use and if I really wanted to invest in something that was potentially a very temporary fix. So I decided to start at the very beginning, which is preparing the deck.
Before you start anything, the deck should be stripped or scraped of chipping paint and cleaned of all mildew and dirt. I (very naively) thought that if by some miracle I could strip all the paint off, I’d just stain the wood and be done. This is a serious LOL. Let’s get started and I’ll walk you through the entire process, including why I ultimately chose Olympic Rescue It! Moderate Restoration and how I feel about the results!
First, the before photos, let me show you what I was working with:
Scrape/Strip peeling paint
You’ll need: paint stripper, bucket, gloves, paint roller, power-washer
Enough of the paint had been peeling in areas that I thought a coat of deck stripper would take the rest off. That was a bit naive of me, but I’ll go through the process with you and you can decide if this is a step you want to even mess with. I think if you have a deck that has only a small bit of peeling paint remaining, stripper would take it off or you could work at scraping it with a tool, but this step only served to show me just how much paint I still had left despite the peeling spots.
My Lowe’s only offered this Jomax brand so that’s what I chose. For this project, 2 bottles covered my 400ish sq ft deck. The liquid is extremely caustic, so be very cautious: wear gloves, pants, and shoes. Ideally, a cloudy day in the 60-70’s with no forecast of rain is best for this because once you roll on the product (onto a dry deck), it needs to sit for 15-45 minutes without drying before being washed away. I used a long-handled roller and did 10′ sections at a time before using a power-washer to wash it off. Here’s what happened:
As you can see, the product took the first layer of paint off, and not much else. I’m not sure what to make of he color difference but there didn’t seem to be any less paint on my deck. It was just now a highlighter yellow. Sigh. I finished the first round and then the next weekend went back and did a 2nd treatment with the stripper and still only had minimal results.
Deep clean the deck
You’ll need: deck cleaner, bucket, paint roller, power-washer
I chose Olympic Deck cleaner. There are many options available, and as long as it’s purpose is to clean the deck of dirt and mildew, you should be fine. Again, 2 gallons covered my 400ish sq ft deck. Follow directions to roll on and rinse with the powerwasher. Do the best you can with the railings. It’s technically hard to get a thick layer of both the stripper and cleaner to adhere to the railings and awkward trying to powerwash these as well so I found the railings didn’t loose much paint and were the hardest areas to clean. Overall, the cleaner worked really well, and this is what the deck looked like after 2 coats of stripper and a treatment of cleaner.
At this point you should also consider replacing broken and warped boards and fix protruding or loose screws. All of the resurfacers only fill gaps up to 1/4″ so fill any that are deeper with an exterior caulk. I’ll admit I skipped over this part out of sheer exhaustion (stripping the paint and cleaning the deck took me 3 weeks) and lack of manpower. You can see in the photo below I have several boards that should have been replaced and big gaps to fill. I took a risk in not fixing it and I suggest you don’t let your own impatience, heat exhaustion, rhabdo, and frustration get the best of you and just suck it up and do it 🙂
Choose your Resurfacer
As I mentioned previously, there are a few deck/concrete resurfacing products available. Aside from some minor differences that I’ll go over, they each accomplish the same thing, which is to cover and coat existing, unsightly, and worn deck wood/concrete, lock down splinters, and fill in gaps. Initially the companies may have led purchasers to believe that this was an easy DIY fix for worn decks but results have proven to be inconsistent. Results seem to depend on a few things: how well you prepare the surface, the conditions when applying, and climate. Obviously, if we all got to choose how to paint/stain or what materials we’d have selected for our decks, we’d have gone a different route, but if you’re sitting here reading this post you’re likely in a similar situation as I am and dealing with a mess that was really out of your own control. I’ll summarize the products I looked at and tell you why I chose the one I did.
- Rust-Oleum Deck & Concrete Restore 10x: This is an extremely thick resurfacer that is 10x thicker than regular paint. It has added materials (sand, I think) for added thickness and texture. I ultimately did not choose this one because of the reviews, it seems most users noticed peeling and bubbling within 6 months, especially after a harsh winter (which I can expect for my location), and because I did not like the appearance of the texture. I thought it looked too thick and “chunky”. A poor imposter for composite decking. I wasn’t sure if the end result would be a deck that could be walked on barefoot. They offer many color options but not as many as Olympic.
- Olympic Rescue It! Max: This seems to be Olympic’s equivalent to Rust-Oleum’s Restore 10x though I’m not sure if there’s as much of a texture issue or if the thickness is the same. From browsing reviews it seems like it’s probably a little thinner. This product also had poor reviews with peeling noticed sometimes within month’s after application, most commonly in cooler climates. I was mostly concerned for peeling and inability to walk in the deck barefoot. They offer many color options.
- Olympic Rescue It! Moderate Restoration: This is the product I chose to use. It’s not as thick as others (don’t be fooled, it’s still very thick), which I considered might actually get me more longevity from the product. It does still have some sand, for texture and filling/sticking effect. I can probably still expect peeling with this product but my hope is that there won’t be massive bubbles and lifts, like those described with the Max and Rust-Oleum products. There were many color options to choose from, same as with the Max option. Dries soft so the surface can be walked on barefoot.
- There were two other products to consider as well, Olympic Rescue It! Light Restoration and Behr Deckover, both of which I didn’t look too much into. The Olympic Light seemed to be too “light” for this project and Behr Deckover is very similar to the Olympic and Rust-Olem products.
Prepare for painting
To prepare your deck for painting, all gaps and holes greater than 1/4″ need to be filled with an exterior sealant caulk. Any boards in bad repair should be replaced as well as loose nails. If there is still peeling paint, this should be scraped up and brushed from the surface.
Waiting for the “perfect” time to paint is the trickiest part. You’ll need a day/night where the temp is between 50-90 degrees and preferably no rain for at least 24 hours prior and after. Allow 6 hours for drying time between coats. There should be no foot traffic on the newly painted surface for 48 hours and furniture can be placed back on after 72 hours.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Paint: 4 gallons covered my 400ish sq ft deck surface and 2 additional gallons for the railings
- Rollers for exterior surfaces (both regular size and 6in for railings), handle, and extender
- Paint tray and fillers
- 5 gallon bucket and grate
- Brushes (to paint down in between the planks)
I chose white railings (Outside White) and brown (Ginger Brown) for the surface. I chose to paint the railings first because I thought if I splattered paint, it would be easily covered with the brown paint. Also, it would be the most tedious and time consuming. I started by taping off the edge of the deck. I then applied the first coat on the railings in 10-15ft sections. This was the most time consuming. If your railings are like mine, I recommend a 6in thin exterior roller and a thin angled brush.
I wasn’t sure what to do with the trellis around the border of the deck. Mine is in bad repair. Tearing it completely out means the majority of the year (when my wildflowers aren’t there to cover it) the deck beams and all other hideousness would be exposed. I wasn’t up for replacing the trellis completely either, so I just kept painting, and covered that too. It doesn’t look great, because so many pieces are broken, but it would look worse if I had taken it down.
Painting the railings took an entire day. Because paint always seems to go on thinner when using a smaller roller I found that some areas actually needed 3 coats. These thinner layers did dry quickly though. After the final touches to the trellis I let the paint dry overnight and set out to paint the deck surface the next day. The first step was re-taping the railings to prevent the brown paint from getting on the newly painted white.
Now came the exciting part, pulling the whole thing together and painting the deck surface! For this I used a big 5 gal bucket and a paint rolling grate since this stuff will really go on thick with a big exterior surface roller, like you see in the photo below. But before I could get started with that, I thought cutting in the edges would be the best way to begin because that would be the most tedious and it was a fresh new day so my patience hadn’t yet been completely destroyed. Along the house and under railing I used small flat 6in exterior surface roller. Around the railing beams I used an angled brush.
After the edges were finished I grabbed the long-handled roller and started covering the planks, about two at a time. This was the best part! It’s not as physically taxing as the rest and fun to watch all that nauseating color go bye-bye. Although, I’m really just covering up puke with poop, right? Either way, when I show you the after photos you’ll agree, it looks much better. This paint wasn’t really thick enough to fill in the gaps between the planks so I didn’t have to worry about separating the paint between boards. I did have to go back through with a foam brush and cover some gaps in the wood that the roller missed. Once the first coat had dried for a few hours the spaces between each plank needed painted. I hadn’t realized before that this would need done nor did I know how much it was going to suck. Foam brushes were tried, but they just broke, and paint brushes both angled and flat and they just got ruined. This is the worst part of the resurfacing. If you cover the spaces between each board well with one coat you don’t need to do a second. Praise Jesus.
The same process was repeated for the 2nd coat, edges first followed by the planks. Paint between the boards was skipped this time because one coat seemed sufficient. And lastly, the stairs needed painted. My stairs aren’t screwed down so they could just be lifted, propped, and comfortably painted. Now, let’s take a moment to admire, shall we?
Just a quick note, some of the areas that look “wet” are because I took these photos in the morning and there was still some dew on the deck. The paint is matte and does not leave a shiny finish. Also, don’t mind the barren wasteland around the deck, it was quickly transformed into my wildflower garden bed after the deck reno and you’ll be hearing about that non-stop soon enough!
So here are my overall thoughts and tidbits regarding what I think about the entire project and about the product I chose:
- This was a SUPER labor intensive ordeal. It took about 1 month to complete and could have taken longer depending on weather cooperation. Painting the whole deck in 1 weekend was nearly impossible – I did not wait a full 6 hours between coats (more like 1-2) otherwise it could not have been done in 2 days, especially when working with 2 different colors.
- It really looks amazing, I might not ever want to do it again but I can say it was worth it. If you scroll back to the before pictures, you can really appreciate the difference. This refreshed deck adds to my home’s overall appeal. In addition to aesthetics there’s no more peeling paint and splinters.
- I am worried about what may happen with it over the next year. I expect some peeling as is the case with any deck paint. However, if the paint bubbles and peels in significant patches like with the super thick products then I’ll be stuck with a mess and again have to consider a reconstruction. Only time will tell.
What do you think? I’d love to hear about your deck restoration experiences!
Thanks for stopping by!