How to Refinish Your Deck

by James Florence


Spring is an ideal time to refinish a wood deck. Photo: Clough Construction (2014)

Between winter rain and summer sun, a wood deck can take quite a beating, which is why annual maintenance is crucial to keep it looking and functioning optimally. With increases in both temperature and daylight hours, spring is the ideal time to refinish your deck in preparation of summer leisure. Here are the steps to take to achieve a properly refinished deck:

Preliminary cleaning
Start by sweeping the deck with a stiff broom. Use a hammer or drill to countersink all nails or screws, particularly those which have started to protrude. Next, fill a bucket with soapy water and use a scrub brush to scour the deck boards and railings. When finished, rinse the deck thoroughly with a water hose.

After the wet deck has dried, it’s time to sand. You can use either a belt sander or an orbital sander, but a belt sander is more commonly recommended for refinishing deck surfaces because orbital sanders can leave circular markings on the boards. In regard to sandpaper, use a grit of 60 to 80 for the deck boards and 80 to 100 for the handrail. Never use a sanding grit in excess of 100, as this may diminish the wood’s ability to absorb stain and sealer. After sanding, sweep away the residual dust and rinse the deck with a water hose.

Product application
Once dry, the deck is ready for product application. Before sealing, you may want to apply a stain to your deck—a sealer helps protect wood against moisture and sunlight, but it doesn’t make any improvement in terms of color. After staining, wait a couple of days before moving on to sealing. Apply sealer in a smooth, thick coat with a natural bristle brush. Allow the sealer to dry completely before using the deck (usually 24 to 48 hours).

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