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Decks are exposed to the worst Mother Nature has to offer — broiling temperatures, pounding rain and frigid snow. To keep them safe and looking their best, not to mention prevent expensive repairs, homeowners should commit to a maintenance routine that includes refinishing the deck every two to three years, depending on weather conditions and wear and tear. Refinishing restores a deck’s like-new appearance by cleaning it and preventing it from absorbing moisture, which leads to cracked and warped boards as well as mildew and mold. A straightforward project that usually takes less than a week to complete, deck cleaning can cost more depending on the size and condition of the deck and the amount of labor required to seal it.

Size

The size of the deck is the most important factor when figuring out costs: The larger the deck, the more it will cost to refinish. On average, refinishing costs range from $2.20 to $3.82 per square foot and up. For a typical deck of 200 square feet, for example, the average cost of a refinishing project can range from $775 to $1,600, plus $350 to $650 in labor costs. An oversized or nonstandard-shaped deck will cost considerably more.

Inspection

Usually deck companies will check the deck for mold, rot and termites. The inspection adds about $100 to the cost of refinishing, and if the deck needs to be repaired or treated for termites, that will add another $200.

Timing

In most climates, late spring—after the rain, but before the heat—is the ideal time to refinish a deck. Expect the contractor to first power-wash the deck, lightly sand it, replace any missing or popped-up nails or screws, and complete any other necessary repairs, then apply the sealer in two thin coats. Book a pro early to avoid higher prices during peak refinishing season.

Repairs

Before new (optional) stain and sealer are applied, any necessary repairs must be made, such as replacing splintered boards or securing railings. Depending on whether parts of the deck can be fixed or need to be replaced, repairs can add $100-$300 to the project.

Deck sealant

Homeowners can choose between an oil-based or a water-based sealer. Oil-based sealers either penetrate or coat the wood or both; a penetrating sealer doesn’t have to be stripped before resealing, but a coating does. Water-based sealers are less resistant to wear and tear than oil-based options, but are more environmentally friendly. Nontoxic options tend to cost a little more per gallon than their traditional counterparts.

Sealers usually cost about $30 per gallon; the total cost, including labor, to have a deck sealed ranges from $300 to $500 for a 250-square-foot deck. For larger decks, homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $900 to $1,300 to have them professionally sealed.

Deck Stain

Most deck restoration and maintenance contractors offer a variety of services. Companies like Deck Wonders in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Lanaville Contracting in Mount Prospect, Illinois, and Decked Out in Royal Oak, Michigan, can stain a deck to refresh the color when they’re sealing it. This generally costs an additional $400-$600.

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