Decking around the house can be an excellent place to gather with family and friends. They do, however, take some abuse over time due to use and weather. Wood decks are vulnerable to rot, although a deck is more rot-resistant if composed of pressure-treated lumber rated for ground contact.
Different wood types can be susceptible to rot when wet for extended periods. While most of this happens out of sight, such as the bottom of stair treads and beneath decking boards, you may need to search for rotten boards.
However, on the upper surface, you can find boards with smaller areas of rot, which has been caused by heavy foot traffic and harsh weather. Most often, you’ll want to change any rotten boards or start filling spaces between deck boards to maintain the appearance of your deck. (Learn How Long After Laying Tile Can You Grout)
On occasions, you can find gaps are more extensive than they should be, so these need attention also.
In our guide, you can learn more about filling gaps in your entire deck, whether from wear and tear or poorly installed floor boards.
By the end, you’ll see that filling gaps between boards isn’t recommended, yet a simple solution could push rope between deck boards. Besides this, you’ll find other ways to maintain your decking and give it extra protection.
What Is The Best Wood Filler For Decks?
When you have a wooden deck, there is plenty to think about for maintenance to avoid adding new wood.
Here, you can find some helpful tips on your home’s decking upkeep.
Stains and Discoloration
If you have wood or composite decking, you’ll need to deal with stains and discoloration.
Mold causes this on composite decks, and it will thrive if your deck is dark or wet. However, mold isn’t a problem exclusive to composite decks, as a wood deck has mold, algae, and mildew to cope with.
To check if black stains are mildew, add undiluted bleach. If it fades in a couple of minutes, you can clean your deck with a mild cleaner before rinsing it with water and bleach. To clean, use your soft bristle brush with soapy water.
Mold can stain and make your deck slippery. To stop this, you need to add a water-repellent stain within 48 hours of removing mold or mildew. Also, add mildewcide to your stain if you live in wet environments.
If you like the natural look of wood, you can use transparent stains before adding marine-grade anti-slip decking in specific areas such as steps.
Warping is a typical decking issue and is one reason you end up with gaps in your decking boards. This often happens when your decking isn’t weather-treated or it faces harsh weather.
Warped boards can curve and leave nails exposed. Once you spot a warped board, pry it off and replace the board with a new piece of wood. Attach your new board to the deck using galvanized nails into crossbeams. (Learn How To Get Rid Of Rabbits Under Deck)
Fill Gaps in Decking
If you fill decking gaps with wood filler or caulk, the boards’ natural movement may cause the materials to break loose and make the gaps worse.
Rope can fill the gaps, and it can cope with various sizes of the gap, such as if the gap widens, just add new rope that is thicker.
After cleaning the deck, cut natural fiber rope to fit each gap. Synthetic rope won’t hold stain or paint so that it would stand out.
Make the rope slightly wider than the gap, so it has a tight fit. Next, pour stain into a bucket, place the rope in the pail of deck stain, and let it sit long enough to soak up the stan and be the color you want.
After the rope has dried, push it into the gap using the same procedure and a flat-head screwdriver or utility knife.
Replace Deck Boards
You may replace broken deck boards to keep your deck robust and attractive.
Cut bad bits with a jigsaw.
If you want your new boards to match the old ones, replace the bad ones with the same kind of wood. Smell the board after removing it to determine its species. Take a sample to the lumberyard, and an employee will match the board.
Use a circular saw to cut your new board to the correct length. Then, flip the board over for a smooth cut.
Circular saw teeth are cut from the bottom up, giving the board a cleaner cut. Also, avoid knots when cutting the board. It may weaken and warp the board.
Is There A Wood Filler For Decks?
Keeping a regularly used deck or patio looking nice year after year can be difficult.
Deck chips and cracks are prevalent, and wood filler can mend these chips. In addition, wood filler solidifies chips and cracks to keep your deck looking great.
Many high-quality wood fillers are available, making it difficult to choose the right one.
Here are some of the more popular wood fillers you can find. (Learn How Long Does Deck Stain Need To Dry Before It Rains)
Elmer’s Color Change Wood Filler
Elmer’s wood filler employs a unique mix that goes on bright purple to guarantee you don’t miss any places on your deck before drying to the deck’s natural color.
You can sand, stain, or paint wood filler to blend it in and prevent deck gaps.
DAP Inc Latex Plastic Wood Filler
DAP Inc’s latex wood filler is durable, and you can apply this stainable and paintable wood filler using a trowel to cover deck chips, gouges, and cracks.
The wood filler works indoors and outdoors on light or dark stains and paints. The wood filler dries rapidly and is crack and shrink resistant.
FamoWood Latex Wood Filler
FamoWood’s product won’t fracture or shrink; therefore, it’s suitable for larger holes or gouges in the wood.
The wood fillers dry in as little as 15 minutes, and you can paint, sand, or stain the wood filler to match your deck or patio.
The solvent-free, odorless wood filler is easy to use indoors and outdoors, and the professional-grade product can withstand rigorous use and comes in 11 colors.
PC Products Wood Repair Epoxy
This two-part wood filler helps to replace missing or rotting wood. It resists dry rot, mildew, freshwater, sea, and UV light.
High tack eliminates sags and drips while the wood filler hardens, creating a smooth finish.
You can then use stain, paint, or machine it after drying.
Minwax Stainable Wood Filler
Minwax’s solution comes in six colors and 18 sizes to fit your deck or patio. It can be used indoors and outdoors without flaking, and it repairs gouges, cracks, knot holes, nail holes, and other problems in unfinished wood.
It works best with water-based or oil-based wood stains and helps blend when it dries until you can apply a layer of stain color.
This wood filler dries quickly and withstands harsh weather conditions and heavy use.
Minwax Wood Putty
If you push an outdoor bench over your deck, it might scratch the wood. Minwax wood filler can fill a single coat with nail holes, cracks, chips, and other minor wood flaws.
You can choose from 9 colors in various sizes so you won’t run out of wood filler mid-project. In addition, the airtight lid keeps wood putty supple and easy to use.
Aqua Coat Wood Grain Filler
Aqua Coat fills the grain and seals wood’s pores before you lightly sand and stain or paint for a smooth surface. Because they’re permeable, it works best on walnut, mahogany, ash, and oak.
You can clean wood fillers with water to create a smooth finish, and the product helps deliver a smooth appearance by sealing pores to avoid mold and rot.
This increases your deck’s longevity and works with oil and water-based paint, lacquer, and primers.
Best Wood Filler Buying Guide
Choosing between items might be difficult if you don’t know what to look for. So here’s a quick guide on wood fillers.
Water-Based or Solvent-Based Fillers
Solvent-Based Wood Filler – Solvent-based wood fillers have an epoxy or vinyl basis with a high VOC concentration.
These wood fillers take an hour to dry after application, and you’ll need turpentine or acetone to clean them.
These are the most expensive wood fillers, and they resist humidity, water, rot, extreme heat, and frozen cold. (Read Can You Put A Chiminea On Wood Deck)
Oil-based wood fillers work best on outdoor wood projects.
Water-Based Wood Filler – Water-based wood fillers are made with gypsum, wood fiber, or cellulose and emit little VOCs.
Water-based wood fillers are more versatile than solvent-based fillers, as you can clean them with water and soap after 15 minutes. In addition, these are the cheaper of the two wood fillers.
Should I Fill Cracks In Deck Boards?
No, it’s preferable to leave cracks alone. They won’t harm the deck, and any wood filler will eventually fail.
The instability of wood filler, rubber seal between deck boards, and caulk used on a deck or wood surface is one of the most significant issues.
When you use wood putty on wooden decking, it cracks or breaks out of the spaces you create.
This is more common in a colder climate: Wood filler and caulk fail because of natural freezing and thawing cycles. Also, the outdoor wood filler does not look natural on a deck.
What Stain Covers Wood Filler?
Use a solid stain over wood filler if you’re planning to stain it. A semi-transparent stain will not hide it; no stain will completely cover wood filler; therefore, a solid stain is the best option.
What to Use to Fill Holes in a Wood Deck
Perma Fill by Gulf Synthetics is usually your best bet for significant damage, such as rotted wood. However, it is usually preferable to replace the wood rather than using wood filler to fix rotten wood.
How Do You Fix A Gap In A Deck?
Braided rope is among the easiest ways to fill cracks and can be found at craft stores or a local farmer’s market.
- Move your furniture off the porch.
- Remove old filler material, dirt or debris out of gaps between your boards using a scraper.
One advantage of using rope is that it helps avoid standing water accumulating.
How do you clean between deck boards?
The spaces let water drain quickly from the deck and offer air circulation to prevent deterioration and mold. Use a putty knife or handsaw to clean deck boards. If boards are too close together, use a circular power saw to widen them.
Is it better to nail or screw deck boards?
Deck screws are tops as nails can be dangerous and corrode quickly. Deck screws are more expensive yet hold well, and you can safely use them on your top rail.
Which side of deck board goes down?
A board set right side up with the bark facing down form a crown to let water to run off the sides. If the board is positioned the wrong side up (or bark side up), it will curl up and collect water. That will cause wood rot.
Is it better to paint or stain pressure-treated wood?
Using deck transparent stain on treated wood is ideal for your new deck. Stain on pressure-treated wood on decks and furniture will seal and reduce surface cracking but not rot.
How do I keep my deck boards straight?
Straighten the first board using chalk. Make the boards straightness sometimes. Adjust the gap between boards over a few rows if they’re not straight.