My aging deck has some boards that are splitting. The deck is quite old and we've been looking everywhere but can't seem to find the same boards to replace them. Is it possible to fill in some of the cracks and splitting on the boards with wood putty? Can we stain putty? We might look into renting a deck sander, but don't think this would help with split boards? Any advice?
Rhonda ~ Boston, Massachusetts
If your deck boards are so cracked that they represent a safety hazard they should be replaced with as close a match as possible ASAP. Sometimes when a deck board is old and seasoned it is hard to tell what species it is. Here is how I would identify your surface, take off a board and cut it in the middle, centered over a joist.
By cutting the board you will expose new wood and on smell alone you or a lumberyard should be able to identify the type of wood. Redwood, Cedar, Pine, Ipe, etc all have very unique odor which is easy to pick up. If you still have no luck finding replacement boards, I would not recommend putty on a deck surface.
Decks are subjected to some very harsh conditions, which cause the surface boards to expand and contract, thus cracking or squishing out most of your stainable solutions. Cracks will always look better than a putty patch in my opinion.