How to Sand an Outdoor Deck

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Outdoor decks are an asset to the exterior of any home. Great for hosting barbecues or relaxing on a nice day, an outdoor deck can last for many years if properly maintained. Sanding an outdoor deck is part of that maintenance and will smooth and even out the wood. Sanding, along with sealing the deck, will create a neat appearance and prevent the wood from cracking. Furthermore, an un-sanded wood deck may produce splinters that can be dangerous for people walking on the deck.

Things You'll Need

  • Hammer
  • Deck screws
  • Deck cleaner
  • Orbital sander
  • 36-grit sandpaper
  • 1 inch thick nylon matting
  • Push broom
  • 80 or 120 grit sandpaper
  • Make any necessary repairs to the deck boards. Hammer in any loose nails and secure any loose deck boards with deck screws. Clean the deck thoroughly with deck cleaner and allow it to dry completely before sanding.

  • Use an orbital sander for sanding a wood deck. This type of sander will produce good results and is relatively easy to use. You may sand the deck by hand but be prepared to spend quite some time doing so. Orbital sanders can be rented from most rental companies.

  • Begin sanding the deck by targeting the most troublesome spots. Wherever there is peeling paint or rough wood, a 36-grit sandpaper should be used. Use caution with this coarse sandpaper; it removes the wood quickly.

  • Place the 36-grit sandpaper on the floor of the deck with the grit side facing down. Place a piece of one inch thick nylon matting on top of the sandpaper. Find sandpaper and matting at any home improvement center. Keep in mind that the exact operation of the sander may vary depending on the manufacturer. Some sanders allow the sandpaper to be slid into the machine itself. Always follow the instructions included with the specific sander you are using.

  • Lean the orbital sander back on to the wheels. Carefully push the sander up to the edge of the sandpaper and matting.

  • Place the sander back in its vertical position so that it is sitting on top of the nylon matting. Pull the locking pin located on the sander into position.

  • Power on the orbital sander. Work in small sections, about 10 square feet at one time.

  • Run the sander over the deck boards slowly. Go back and forth over the area until it is smooth to your satisfaction. It is important to always keep the sander moving. If you are going to stop, quickly turn the machine off to avoid oversanding one particular area. Replace the sandpaper as necessary.

  • Sweep away loose dust from sanding as you are working. Use a push broom to sweep the dust off of the deck. This will prevent the dust from interfering with the sanding job.

  • Switch to an 80 or 120 grit sandpaper for finer sanding and to provide a smooth, even surface throughout. Go over the area you previously sanded with the 36-grit sandpaper using the finer sandpaper, and continue sanding the rest of the deck with the fine sandpaper.

Tips & Warnings

  • If sanding by hand, use the same types of sandpaper in the same order. Sanding blocks may make hand sanding a bit easier.

References

  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
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