How to Strip and Refinish Your Deck

It is that time of year again. Time for backyard cookouts and pool parties. You are in full planning mode for a season of fun, but let’s not forget an important member of the outdoor team. If your deck is in good condition, you will be much more likely to enjoy all those hours outdoors. Best of all, this project is not nearly as difficult as it may seem.

The first part of this project is to strip the current finish off of the deck and then prepare the wood for refinishing. In order to strip and prepare the deck, you will need the following items: 1) protection clothing (this includes eye wear, rubber gloves, and maybe even rubber boots), 2) the deck stripping agent of your choice (this can be purchased at your local hardware store and you should measure your deck so you know how much you will need), 3) painting supplies (this includes a roller, extension handles, trays, and roller pads (ask the expert when you purchase the stripping agent which pads will work best), 4) drop clothes (these will be used to cover up flowers, shrubs, bushes, etc. that surround the deck), 5) pressure washer (if you do not own one, most hardware stores will rent one to you), and 6) a garden hose. Once you have loaded up on supplies, you can begin the first part of your deck renewal project.

Prior to stripping the deck, you will want to take your drop clothes and protect the plant life that is around the deck. While you will most likely be using a water based stripper, which is not supposed to be harmful to your plants, you should take precaution. This includes protecting yourself from the chemicals as well. You should always follow the directions that are on the deck stripper package as each one is slightly different. In general, you will take the rollers and spread the stripping agent over the entire deck. Be careful not to paint yourself into a corner. It does happen to the best of us when we do not pay attention. Once you have covered the deck, you will need to let the deck stripper sit according to the manufacturers instructions.

Now you are ready to remove the stripping agent from your deck. To do this, you will need the pressure washer. Remember, when using a pressure washer, always work along the grain, going against can cause damage to the wood. Also, you will want to hold the pressure washer 12 to 18 inches above the deck surface. This will also keep the pressure washer from damaging the deck. Once you have washed off the deck, you may find some areas that require a second coat of stripper. Repeat these steps until the deck has been cleaned to your satisfaction. This usually requires no more than 2 coats, most of the time 1 treatment does the job.

The second part of the project is refinishing the deck. This will require the following supplies: 1) painting supplies (same as above), 2) deck stain of your choice (usually semi-transparent and can be found at most hardware stores), 3) 80 grit sand paper (good for sanding wood), 4) an orbital sander (if you do not own one, then most hardware stores will rent them for the day), and 5) a hammer. Now you have your supplies to begin the final part of the project.

After letting the deck dry for at least a couple days, you will need to sand the wood surface to prepare it for staining. This is necessary because the pressure washer will cause some distress to the wood and a light sanding will clean it up. Just as you did with the pressure washer, sand with the grain to avoid damage. Once the surface is smooth to your satisfaction, you can go along and make sure all of the nails are hammered into the wood completely. The last step is to follow the directions on the stain and apply it to the deck surface with the roller. Try to avoid applying the stain in the direct sunlight because it will cause the stain to dry too fast. This can result in less than desirable results.

All in all, you can have a great looking deck in a reasonable amount of time. You cannot finish this project in a day, but if you start this weekend, by next weekend you can be relaxing and enjoying those outdoor activities with your family. Be safe and enjoy.

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