If you've grown tired of your backyard deck and want to improve it, then you have a bunch of options. Your deck should be a place where you can relax or entertain. If it's become an eyesore or is no longer even safe to walk on, then you should fix the situation.
Here are two ways to rejuvenate your deck.
Liven Up The Decking: Sand, Strip and Stain
The first thing to look at is the decking. Is it in solid condition, with only a few bumps and bruises and faded stain? If so, then you don't have to replace the decking. The first thing to do is check for any boards that have popped up. You can pull the old nails that have failed and re-nail the planks to the support beams. If you can't get at the old nails with the claw end of a hammer, use needle nose pliers.
The next step is to look for any spots where the wood is chipped or badly splintered. For large cracks and holes, you will use wood putty. You can apply it with a putty knife and let the putty dry overnight. The next step is to sand the deck. You want to use a belt sander with a medium grit paper. If you have access to a large floor sander, then this is better. It is much faster to use than a belt sander. You are only sanding down to remove rough surfaces, not remove the stain. The stain will be removed with a chemical peel. It is tricky to sand off stain because you might remove too much wood and make the surface uneven.
Purchase a container of stain stripper. These are thick liquids that are painted on the decking. You let them sit on the wood for anywhere from a half hour to several hours, depending on the mixture's direction. When it comes time to remove it, you should use a paint scraper. Finally, wash down the deck with a hose to clean off the debris.
When the deck has dried, sweep it and make sure there is no debris. If everything looks clean, it is time to apply new stain. You will do this with a heavy cloth. Make sure to make even passes so that the stain doesn't pool in one spot. Pooling stain will discolor and also create a high spot that will bubble and look ugly when dry.
Don't Forget The Stairs: Railing and Steps
Many people focus on the look of their decks flooring, but the staircase is just as important. If you have a wobbly staircase, then people can injure themselves walking down into your backyard. Also, it will look odd to have a nice, freshly stained deck alongside an old, beaten staircase. So, here is how to fix it up.
Inspect the stairs to see if any of the steps are wobbly. If there are wobbly steps, head under the staircase with a hammer and some nails. The wobbly step will need to be reattached to the stringer (the main support beam for the staircase.) In most cases the old nails have become loose due to the wood deteriorating around them. Pull the nails out and attach new nails to anchor the steps to the stringer.
If the railing is damaged, replace it rather than try and fix it. You can get a brand new stair railing kit that will be easy to have installed from a company like Stair Case and Railing Store. This will save you the effort involved in staining and fixing each individual spindle. You can get a unstained stair railing kit and then stain it to match your decking.
Finally, strip and stain each step as described in the decking section above. This will make sure everything matches.