DIY | Refinish Your Wood Deck in Easy Steps | Creative DIY Project Ideas
Refinishing your deck every year or two reduces cracks and splinters, keeping the surface of the wood attractive and friendly to tender feet.
The first step to clean the deck with a broom or power blower and visually check for any severely cupped, split, or any rotting wood deck boards.
If you find any, then these boards need to be replaced before the deck is refinished.
If your deck is not painted but has a clear finish or transparent / semi-transparent wood stain, then you just need to clean it with a wood deck cleaner.
The best cleaners are oxygen-based wood cleaners effective in removing mildew stains and ultra-violet caused bleaching of the wood deck.
If your deck needs a deeper cleaning than a surface brightener, then the next step is using a power washer.
Once the deck boards are power washed the wood fibers will raise as they expand with water.
After drying, wood fibers can often remain raised and may cause splinters. For a professional job, you need to plan on sanding your wood deck before staining and final finishing.
With the deck cleaned and sanded the pores of the wood are ready to receive their protective finish coat.
This can be a stain and separate water repellent finish or a combination product.
We recommend the use of quality oil-based penetrating exterior semi-transparent stain such as Sikkens.
Make sure to confirm how the stain will look with your wood species before you buy since the actual color of the stain once applied may be different than the color product brochure or the can’s label.
You have sweated through the preparation and now can enjoy the satisfaction of seeing the deck take on new life as you apply the stain and finish. Some tips we can summarize here include:
It is very important to make sure the deck is dry for about two days without any rain on it before you proceed to stain the deck.
Water in the pores of the wood will prevent proper absorption of the oil stain into the wood.
Select a quality penetrating oil-based semi-transparent stain if you want the grain of the wood to show through.
Buy a solid opaque stain if you want the finish to look like paint. Just don’t use paint.
DO NOT: Use clear finishes such as polyurethane or varnish as they will degrade under the sun’s UV rays.
There are basically two types of deck cleaners:
One type (liquid oxalic acid or powdered hydrogen peroxide) removes a thin layer of gray, dead wood fibers from the surface and exposes the fresh wood beneath.
The other type has a bleach base that removes unsightly black and green stains on the surface such as mildew.
If you notice this condition, clean off the mildew first and rinse, then use a standard deck cleaner.
Scrubbing by hand or with a stiff-bristle push broom can be an effective way to prep a deck.
It may not scour tight corners or deep cracks the way a pressure washer can, but if you use trisodium phosphate or a commercial cleaner, scrubbing can be adequate for small jobs.
Some professionals actually prefer brush-scrubbing as a less-harsh alternative to power washing.
Removing old stain with a chemical stripper is relatively uncommon with decks, but we found that it did an excellent job, leaving wood noticeably cleaner than using a power washer alone.
Pressure washing, the standard in deck cleaning, efficiently removes dirt, old stain, and debris from wood.
Most pressure washers can be used with trisodium phosphate or other deck cleaners for an even better result.
When you use a pressure washer, don’t let the spray linger in one spot too long, or it may gouge the wood.
Discoloration or stubborn stains are better removed with a stripper than with overly aggressive washing.
Once your deck is clean and dry, it’s time to apply the finish. Finishes come in clear, tinted, semitransparent, and solid colors.
Sprayers are excellent for applying stain because they allow you to cover large areas quickly and uniformly.
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