Tips for Sanding a Wood Deck Before Refinishing

Wooden structures need maintenance. There's a lot of hot air surrounding certain types of wood that don't require much maintenance. However, you will require maintenance someday unless you are satisfied with the natural gray that most types of wood turn into overtime. Therefore, structures like fences, decks, and sheds need time and effort if you want them to last and look good.


You may have good experience with wood decks, or you may have learned how to make a deck by reading to a DIY crafts resource such as articles and books online. However, the challenges of refinishing a wooden deck can be catered by purchasing the best sander for deck refinishing.

These sanding tips will take you a step further towards achieving the goal of giving a vibrant look to your old deck.

Sanding a Wood Deck

After a deep power wash, the wood fibers of the various components of the deck often raise because of water expansion. Once dry, these wooden fibers can cause splinters as they may remain raised. For this reason, before staining and sealing one might want to sand their wood deck after each power-wash. This crucial step will ensure that your refinishing job gives great results.
These power sanders come in a variety of options. One can either rent the commercial sanders from rental outlets of home-improvement centers. Or you can always opt for the manually operated standard household orbital sanders. If you manage to use any of these properly, they’ll show equally good results at sanding the deck. However, if you are to sand a large deck, you should opt for commercial sander because a manually operated household sander can take a lot of time, energy and patience.

Remember that woods used on decks are usually softwood species that can be squeezed if you use sandpapers or power tools with a very rough grit. Belt sanders, whether handheld models or large uprights, have a tendency to gouge softwoods, so oscillating or orbital sanders often do a better job. Also, be sure to wear out a particle mask and safety glasses while sanding, as wood dust creates health risks if you breathe it. Hearing protectors and knee pads will also make your job more comfortable and safer. 
Make sure your deck is completely dry before you sand. If there has been rainfall or if you have power washed, wait some days before sanding. Treat the railings, deck surface, and boards' edges as various tasks, varying the sanding techniques for each. 

Preparation Steps

Start by carefully checking all the surfaces you will sand—surface decking, stairs, edges, and railings. Make sure all fasteners are pushed down below the surface of the wood. Some old screws may need to be separated and replaced. If there are any loose boards, it is time to drive new fasteners to secure them.
If there are deep gouges or splinters in the wood, make sure these are filled or repaired before you begin sanding. If you are using wood fillers, make sure they are thoroughly dry and solidified before moving on to sanding. 

Sanding the Deck Surface

When sanding hard-woods, the goal is usually the smoothest surface possible, but this is not the case when sanding an external deck surface. For sanding deck floorboards, utilize sandpapers with grits of 60 or 80. Sanding with more fine grit papers (100-grit or above) will smooth the wood to the moment where the pores begin to close down, obstructing the absorption of stain or sealer into the wood. Use intermediate pressure on your hand sander, checking for consistency of appearance as you go.
Complete vacuuming of all surfaces is significant before you move on to staining and sealing the deck. 

Sanding Board Edges

Sanding the outer edges of the deck board may be a little difficult but that mainly depends on the design of your deck. Although, if your deck design involves a fairly low bottom baluster rail that would makes accessing it quite difficult.
Here, a minor detail sander may prove helpful if your standard orbital sander won't fit. Again, use a sandpaper 60 to 80-grit for the end grain of decking boards, and make sure to sand equally since stains are often absorbed unequally into the end grain if the panels aren't sanded to a uniform consistency.
Again, wipe-end grains free of dust before going on to sealing and staining. 

Sanding the Railings

One can simply never over-emphasize the importance of sanding the railing of your deck. Railing it the most visible element, and hence catches maximum focus. Also, in order to prevent hand injuries one must sand and smooth the splinters on the handrail.
Here, a delegate sander or even sanding by hand may be essential to get to all areas, but again, do not sand to a smoothness that will stop the stain from penetrating.
Vacuum completely, but also wipe all surfaces with a clean rag to eliminate all traces of sanding dust before you move on to staining and sealing. 

Clean the Wood Before Staining or Sealing

It is safest to move on to staining and sealing very quickly after sanding. Ensure that all surfaces are thoroughly vacuumed free of sanding dust, then wipe the surfaces down with a tack cloth to remove all traces of dust before moving on to staining or sealing.

Enjoying Your Deck

After all this effort, you will have an amazing refinished wood-deck. However, the end result is mainly depednant on the quality of materials used, the preperaton and applications of sanding techniques.

Not only does a properly refinished wood deck looks good but it also adds to the durability of the wood. This may attract a few real estate buyers as well, and add a lot more value to your home than you can imagine!

Anyhow, the deck refinishing shouldn’t take more than a weekend or two. So what are you waiting for ? Find amazing wood refinishing products on our website, and give your old furniture a new life!

Abigail Jones

Hi, I'm Abigail. I like spending time tearing my house apart and putting it together back again. Join me on home improvement tutorials, tips on my blog.

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