How to Resurface a Wood Deck

Summer is the perfect season to get some of those household projects done that you have been putting off all winter. The warm weather, extra hours of daylight, and the chance to show off your handiwork to your friends at a bar-b-que are enough to inspire anyone to get out and get some work done. One of the projects on my list this summer is resurfacing my wood deck. It has been a few years since I last gave my deck some attention, and now I find the stain has faded and the wood simply looks old. Resurfacing my wood deck will not only approve the look and appearance of the deck, but it will also help protect it from sun and weather for many years to come.

Before You Start Resurfacing Your Wood Deck:

This project, while not difficult, is time consuming. If you do not have time to do it right, or if you do not have the proper supplies, it will be best to delay the project until you can do it right. My dad always said “If you don’t have time to do it right, make sure you have time to do it twice.” That is certainly the case with resurfacing a wooden deck. If you do not take the time and energy to do it correctly, you will find yourself spending more time and money in the near future.

What Do You Need to Resurface Your Wood Deck?

Materials Needed:
Masking tape and masking paper
Mild detergent
*Waterproofing wood sealer & finish or
*Deck stain
*Deck finish remover or
*Household Bleach
*Trisodium Phosphate (Available at Home and Garden Store)
*Conventional paint stripper
*Deck & mildew stain remover

Tools Needed:
Pressured water source and water hose with spray nozzle (a rental power sprayer is worth the time and money)
Scrubbing brush
*Paint roller & tray and/or paint sprayer
*Paint brushes and/or applicators
*Sprayer for finish application

*Optional items – You will need some of them.

How to Resurface Your Wood Deck:

Step 1: Prepare your deck.

Cleaning and preparing your wood deck is the most important step. If you skimp on this step, you will find yourself doing this all again in no time. You will need to clean the deck very deeply and strip the wood of the previous stain or paint.

To clean the deck, a pressurized power-washer is your best bet. There are hose attachments that can ramp up the pressure from a common garden hose, but it will be worth the money to rent a pressurized unit capable of delivering at least 1,200 psi of pressure. You will want to make sure and get all of the debris from between boards, remove any surface stains, and power-spray all peeling or flaking paint or wood stain. In addition to power spraying, you might find yourself scrubbing some of the wood.

You will want to get down and scrub the wood to ensure that all foreign materials are removed. If you don’t, you could end up with uneven coloring or even spots that your new stain won’t cover. If you find mildew or other stains, you can use one of the many commercial products available to remove them, but many people have luck with diluted bleach (1:4 bleach / water mixture), or trisodium phosphate and bleach mixed (1:1 ratio). If you find yourself using cleaning chemicals, make sure you are adequately protecting your hands and eyes.

If you find there are spots where the old stain will not come up easily, you might need to sandpaper the area and use a chemical stripper. While this is uncommon, it is very effective. Once the deck is completely cleaned, you can move on to your next step.

Step 2: Protect and Prevent Mistakes.

I learned this one the hard way. You will want to use masking tape, a drop cloth, and possibly newspaper to shield any surfaces or areas that you do not want your new finish on. The product you are applying has been appropriately named – it is called stain. Spending a few minutes to make sure that all of the areas that need to be protected are protected will save you from stress and heartache later.

Step 3: Apply Your New Finish.

Before you begin to apply your stain, you will want to make sure that your deck is completely dry. Again, this is a step that you do not want to skip unless you want to do this again soon. Once the deck is dry, it is time to apply your chosen stain. While stain color and finish is a matter of personal choice, semitransparent and solid stains last longer and provide better protection then clear or natural products.

Also, wood deck finishes and stains come with various options including stains that are water repellent, UV protective, and mildew and insect repellent. If any of these conditions are concerns of yours, choose the product that will protect your specific deck the best.

There are a number of different methods for applying your deck finish. What you choose will depend on the size of the deck, the tools available, and the time you have to spend. Personally, when I tackle this job, I will be using a power-sprayer. I have found that a power-sprayer allows me to apply finish very evenly and efficiently. The traditionalists will want to use a paint roller and paint brushes. Some will choose to use new products such as gel stains that help you apply a deck finish quickly and evenly.

Regardless of your application method, you will want to make sure that the new finish is applied as evenly as possible. Take care not to skip any spots and avoid overlaps. Both of these common errors will leave unsightly marks on your deck, and you might find yourself redoing the whole job.
Again, you will want to let your deck to fully dry before allowing any traffic. This can take over 24 hours, but it will ensure that you do not permanently apply shoe prints to your deck.

Resurfacing a wood deck will add dramatically to the beauty and usefulness of your house and yard. Making sure you do it correctly will save you hours of wasted time and energy. Good luck with your project and enjoy your new deck.

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