Deck Refinishing 101

Salem Paint Company:   Deck Refinishing  101

  1. The key to successfully refinishing your deck is in the surface preparation. Proper surface preparation extends the longevity of the finish.

The first step is determining if the deck will accept finish. This is done by a simple water test. Sprinkle water on the deck, the water should absorb into the wood within 30 seconds to 2 minutes. If it doesn’t you have a choice between cleaning the deck and waiting until it does or stripping the deck. This is also the test that should be done on new lumber.

Clean the deck. This can be done with deck cleaner such as PPG Deck Cleaner or Storm Wood Brightener or Restorer or a solution mix of 4 oz. TSP, 1 quart of Bleach and 3 quarts of water. Any of these should be applied to the deck and let sit for 10 to 20 minutes. Don’t let it dry on the deck. After it’s sat for a while going over it with a deck brush will help to loosen dirt and mildew.  Rinse thoroughly while brushing. The surface can also be rinsed with a pressure washer set to between 500-800 psi staying about a foot from the surface. Caution should be used when using a power washer. Decks, especially cedar or fir decks are pretty soft and easily damaged. New decks should be cleaned in the same way because new lumber has a mill glaze that inhibits the penetration of the stain.

The deck can be sanded with the grain after it dries. 80 grit sandpaper is recommended. While sanding is not a requirement it will help even the color of the deck and give it a newer look. If you’ve pressure washed sanding will remove the “furring” that can occur. These little fibers can wick moisture through your new finish shortening its life-span.

  1. The next step is to apply the stain, by far the easiest part of the project. You should wait to apply your finish a minimum of 48 hours after cleaning but no longer than 7-10 days. A natural bristle brush is the best applicator. Brush with the grain one board at a time from end to end keeping a wet edge to avoid lap marks. Most products can be sprayed but it is recommended to back brush the product immediately following the application to achieve an even finish. Only one coat of product should be applied. It’s tempting to apply a second coat but that second coat won’t soak in and will end up being a tacky mess.
  2. Maintenance. The average life of a deck finish is 2-3 years. We recommend cleaning the deck every fall and spring. Typically after 2-3 years the surface can be cleaned and stain reapplied without stripping.  Do the water test from step one to make sure that the stain will penetrate, if it doesn’t you may need to strip the deck or wait another year.  If you have sheltered areas that don’t weather as fast as the exposed deck stripping may be necessary to assure an even finish.  This program will assure that your deck is protected and will give you years of service. There may come a time when you want that new deck look again and the existing stain will need to be stripped.

So to break it down;   1. Prepare, clean and dry   2. Apply stain           3. Keep it clean   4. Enjoy