How to Properly Clean and Sand Your Deck

Deck stainIf your deck has seen better days, it might be time for a facelift. Many people feel that refurbishing their deck is a daunting task. However, once you have the right tips to guide you through the process, you’ll find it so easy, you’ll be relaxing on the new deck with a drink in hand sooner rather than later!

First, you’ll need to know what sort of deck you have. This process will work on any wood deck, including redwood, cedar, pine, spruce and pressure treated lumber but it will not work on composite decks. Many people think to get great results, you’ll need expensive tools. That’s not true! In most cases, you can rent most of the tools you’ll need to get the job done.

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  • Protective gear (gloves, mask and goggles)
  • Pressure washer
  • Stain or paint remover
  • Anti-mildew treatment
  • Belt sander
  • Palm sander
  • Sanding sponge
  • Sandpaper (various grit)
  • Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Stain
  • Staining brush

1.  Start with a pressure washer.

If you’re working on a softer wood, like pine, spruce or cedar, you’ll want to be careful with the pressure washer settings. The best setting to use is the wide fan. Next, choose how close you’ll hold the wand to the wood surface. This is because a pressure washer can damage a softer wood if you hold it too close. It’s best to test it out first on a small spot that’s hidden off to the side on your deck if you are not 100% sure. If you see that the wood fibers start to lift up, then hold the wand farther away.

In some cases, the surface of the wood may have a lot of old product on it. If you find this to be the case, you might need to use a stain or paint remover like Benjamin Moore REMOVE Finish Remover. Just follow the instructions provided on the product and always use protective gear if you go this route. This should include eye protection and a mask.

Once you get the built-up product off the wood you’ll want to use an anti-mildew treatment on it. Always choose one that’s biodegradable because you’ll generally see better results.

After it’s been washed, let the wood dry for at least a couple of days. If it happens to rain or is particularly humid, you may need to wait for a few more days.

2. Now you can start sanding.

It’s important that you make sure there is no chance of rain when you begin to sand. If the wood gets wet after it’s been sanded, but not before you’ve had the chance to stain or paint it, you’ll be back to square one — you’ll need to wash and sand it all over again.

Sometimes homeowners rent big floor sanders thinking it will save time because it’s a large surface and that’s a mistake. These machines are too heavy and often they won’t be able to reach the entire surface. Plus, many don’t know that floor sanders can only sand surfaces that are perfectly flat, and depending on the age of the deck, deck boards might be slightly curved. That means it will take off too much in some sections and not enough in others producing poor results and possibly weaken your deck.

The only way to do ensure the best results if to do it by hand with a belt sander, palm sander, and sanding sponge. You’ll need the proper safety gear, such as safety eyewear and respirators. It’s not worth doing if you can’t do it safely yourself so get the right protective gear.

Any pro will tell you to start with a belt sander using a heavy grit belt (like 50) working backwards on the boards as you go along. Then they’ll go back and use a palm sander for all the areas that the belt sander couldn’t reach. The last step would then be to take a sanding sponge wrapped in sandpaper and do the areas the palm sander couldn’t reach.

Then you’ll repeat the process using a slightly lighter grit (60/80). Doing this will leave a nice, smooth surface that will take the stain consistently producing better results.

3. Now it’s staining time.

The general rule when it comes to stain is the thicker the stain, the better the protection. So, make sure you only use deck stain.

Translucent and semi-transparent stains are very thin so you’ll need to reapply every year. It might not sound like a big deal, but for larger surfaces such as a wooden deck, you’ll want to go for something thicker that lasts longer or you’ll be doing this process each year.

When applying always use a proper stain brush so that the stain is applied in a consistent manner to the wood.

How often do you need to do this? Most experts advise every two-three years, but harsh winters or summers may require every 12-18 months.

The cost of rejuvenating an average-size deck is about $250, including tools, materials and the pressure washer rental. You’ll save several hundred dollars by doing the work yourself. Having your deck professionally cleaned and stained will cost $500 to $1,000.

Protect and Beautify your Outdoor Living Space!

Now’s a great time to give your deck a fresh coat of stain. Don’t forget: the experts at GNH Lumber are here to offer guidance, tips and product suggestions.

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