Materials and Tools:
hand-held sanding block with medium-grit sandpaper
semi-transparent and solid stain-and-sealant-in-one
galvanized finishing nails/screws
plastic planter liner
Repair damaged deck boards, and thoroughly clean the deck with a deck cleaner and a garden hose.
Deck cleaner lifts dirt to surface of boards.
Do not power-wash. The force could damage the boards and drive dirt into the wood.
When deck is dry, sand lightly to remove loose fibers and improve stain's adhesion.
Apply semi-transparent stain to show natural grain and texture of wood.
Apply stain with high-quality brush, paint roller or pad, or sprayer. Back brush to help stain penetrate between boards and even out coating.
Stain railing with solid color that complements furniture or architecture of house, for example, brick red or gray marble.
To make staining railing easier, put on latex glove, then staining mitt; dip mitt into stain, then wrap around railing. The latex glove will keep stain off hand and fingernails. Or you can use a small roller.
Build planter boxes out of treated 1x8 and 1x2 boards and stain like railing. Use galvanized finish nails and flat-head wood screws to put together rectangle.
Line planter with plastic liner to protect wood and hold moisture for plants.