How to Sand & Stain a Deck

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Since wooden decks are constantly exposed to the elements, they may need to be resurfaced every few years. Some homeowners hire a professional for the job, but if you are reasonably crafty, there is no reason not to sand and stain a deck yourself. Take the time to properly prepare the deck to create a smooth, professional finish.

Things You'll Need

  • Hammer
  • Paint scraper
  • Dust mask
  • Disc sander
  • Sandpaper
  • Pressure washer
  • Water
  • Oxygenated bleach
  • Sponge mop or painting pad with pole
  • Deck brightener
  • Deck stain
  • Paint roller/covers
  • Paint brush
  • Rags
  • Deck sealant
  • Repair the deck structure. Over time, nails can become loose, boards can rot, and damage can occur. Walk the entire deck in an organized manner, checking for damaged areas, protrusions and soft spots. Replace damaged or rotted boards, patch small scratches, and reset loose nails. Use caution to avoid denting the deck boards with your hammer or other tools.

  • Remove loose and peeling old finishes with a paint scraper. Wear a dust mask and use a disc sander to sand the deck smooth. Disc sanders can be rented at most local hardware stores. Turn on the sander with it off of the deck, and then gently lower it onto the deck surface. Keep moving across the deck to avoid gouging the wood. If your deck wood is soft or exotic, choose 60- to 80-grit sandpaper. If the wood is hard, choose a coarser grit.

  • Inspect the deck surface. If you desire a smoother finish, sand it again with finer grit sandpaper. Most deck floors do not require a sleek, entirely smooth finish. If any old finish remains, sand again or use a chemical stripper.

  • Wash the deck thoroughly. A pressure washer will remove dirt and grime as well as sanding dust. Use a bit of oxygenated bleach to ensure that the deck is sparkling clean. Rinse thoroughly with plain water and allow the deck to dry completely.

  • Use a sponge mop or painting pad on a pole to apply a deck brightener. Brighteners open up the wood pores to enhance the effect of staining. Allow the brightener to set according to the manufacturer's instructions, and then thoroughly rinse with plain water. Allow the deck to dry completely.

  • Apply deck stain in a two-step process. Use a paint roller to apply the stain, and a rag or paint brush to remove the excess. Work back and forth, rolling a section and then immediately brushing or ragging the wet stain before it sets. Allowing excess stain to sit on the deck can lead to peeling and discoloration. Work in small sections, slightly overlapping the edges to avoid lap lines. Allow the deck to dry thoroughly.

  • Seal the deck. Many deck stains include a sealant, but if yours does not, add a layer of clear deck sealant. Use a paint roller and soft roller cover to gently apply a thin layer of weather-resistant sealant. Work in small sections, slightly overlapping the edges. Allow the deck to dry thoroughly. Wait at least three days before walking or placing furniture on the deck, to allow the sealant to set.

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