Asked on Apr 21, 2020

How do I make this deck useable?


We moved into this house in March of last year and the owner had supposedly redone the deck the prior fall. He didn't seal it and after some research, I found out this is bamboo decking (which I don't think is something you should ever use in Nebraska!).

Fast forward to this year, and it is completely falling apart. It is full of fiberous slivers. We have a pool and little ones and have had numerous slivers in feet.

We want to find a cheaper solution that tearing it all out and redoing it. Any suggestions? Is there something we can put on top of it? You aren't even supposed to power wash this stuff, so I'm not sure how we will ever accomplish that.


q how do i make this deck useable
q how do i make this deck useable
  18 answers
  • Painting it would probably help. Use something to at least seal it for now . You could also put outdoor rugs over the high traffic areas to help protect your feet

  • GrandmasHouseDIY GrandmasHouseDIY on Apr 21, 2020

    I would use a marine grade sealant for wood. It will not be cheap but it will last longer than any other sealers and give a smoother result. So sorry about what you're going through, what a bummer!

  • What was indicated in your inspection report prior to the sale? While this is water under the bridge now, your realtor SHOULD have advised you, plus add in a credit for repair or replacement in your negotiated purchase price. Sounds like a rookie realtor mistake.

    There is no cheap fast fix. If it is that bad, it needs to be demolished and rebuilt according to current code. If it were me I would obtain at least three bids from licensed contractors.

    Then take the bids back to your lender and either refi for a new loan to encompass additional funds to have the deck rebuilt, get a second, or a home improvement loan. Explore all options to see what would be the best budget and tax wise. Also consult with your tax professional. If a seasoned service, they can certainly help in making your decision.

    So sorry this happened to you. With children (and any pets), in the picture you want them to be safe and happy! Good luck!

  • Robyn Garner Robyn Garner on Apr 21, 2020

    "Splintering decks are usually the result of one thing: homeowner neglect. Splintering decks don’t happen unless a long period of time has passed during which the deck has not been treated with a water sealer and stain. The lack of protection allows water to soak into the boards, eventually causing them to splinter and crack. Fortunately, all is not lost. It might be hard to get that brand new look back completely, but you can repair decking that has been neglected by following a few simple steps."

    I think you need to read more on bamboo for decking and contact some experts. From my reading, regardless of where you live bamboo is a terrific product (unless the manufacturer sucked). With your situation, it seems you really must do some gentle power washing or scrubbing with the bleach solution using stiff brooms. Get the best advice you can find!

    I have 2 additional thoughts:

    First, can you remove the boards and flip them over?

    If they are in good shape on the backside, this would be a fabulous fix! The boards are already cut to fit and you've got all the wood already.

    I would pry out a few boards to inspect the underside condition. If it's in better shape, I'd put sealer on what is currently the top of the deck to stop any further deterioration. Make sure you really get it covered well as this will become the underside and you won't see it again.

    My other thought, if you decide not to sand it all down and seal it or flip the boards:

    Is it possible to put an epoxy over the top of the entire deck? This would seal all the splinters inside the epoxy layer. You DO need to figure out how you'd finish an epoxy so that it isn't slick.

    Good luck! 😎

  • Gk Gk on Apr 21, 2020

    Maybe you can use a deck coating that soaks into the wood rather than lays on top of the wood like paint. I think if you painted your decking with paint you would have a HUGE headache later when it started to blister and peel. The paint would not withstand ice and snow moisture very well.

    Here's a video that might help you:

  • Alyssa Perry Cameron Alyssa Perry Cameron on Apr 21, 2020

    Hi all - thank you for your suggestions! I think unfortunately, that this is not high grade material that we are dealing with. After researching, I believe it may be the same bamboo decking as people are posting about here.

  • Kelli L. Milligan Kelli L. Milligan on Apr 21, 2020

    I would apply a deck sealer, then lightly sand to make sure it is splinter free then add a non slip deck sealer. Good luck. I hope it works. Visit your local stand alone paint store to get the best advice on what products to use. Stay away from the large box hardware stores. Most of the workers are seasonal and you probably know more.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Apr 21, 2020

    Seal it with several coats of polyurethane. Put down indoor outdoor rugs & runners.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Apr 21, 2020

    Hello Alyssa,

    Had you thought of using artificial grass or rubber non slip floor for poolsides?

  • Susan Susan on Apr 21, 2020

    a less expensive and quick way to make the deck usable this summer is to carpet it with outdoor carpeting, like the kind on 5' rolls at the back of Lowes. You can use screws with smooth washers to tack down the carpet. (ask in fastener dept) do not use screws that will rust. For the long term you might look at the wood substitue decking as it will not need maintenance and will last and never have splinters.

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Apr 21, 2020

    If you can afford to replace it, I would. Otherwise, outdoor carpet would be a fix for now. Make sure you have everyone wear water shoes or flip flops when on the deck until repaired. Good luck and stay safe!

  • Em Em on Apr 22, 2020

    Outdoor rug runners. Many stores carry them. Local and online. Try

    Make sure the little ones stay on the carpeting. Treated wood splinters sent me to the emergency room and a week of painful recovery.

  • Mike Mike on Apr 22, 2020

    Rustoleum makes a product called restore that is used on older decks and wood it applies very think and has a grit like texture this maybe something worth looking into to resurface what you have. Home Depot sells it and it can be tinted multiple colors to suit your need

  • DP DP on Apr 23, 2020

    I would use a deck stain then sealer, if you put carpet on it without sealing it will rot the wood very quickly because it would hold the moisture, this may get you a couple years of use then replace when you can

  • John Dozier John Dozier on Apr 23, 2020

    Clean and treat with bamboo deck oil. Then keep regular maintenance. There are advantages of bamboo.

  • Holly Lengner - Lost Mom Holly Lengner - Lost Mom on Apr 25, 2020

    I agree that sealing the wood with something would be a great idea and also adding rugs or a piece of turf for the kids to play on.

  • Lucie - Oh my sander Lucie - Oh my sander on Apr 27, 2020

    Seal the bamboo. Then add a colorful rug, furniture and a few plants.

  • Deb K Deb K on May 09, 2021

    Hi, you can try to put a rubber sealer over the mess of slivers, it will help the deck last a bit longer too,