How to Refinish a Deck

How to Refinish a Deck

The effect of the weather can leave your deck looking like you need to replace it. Replacement, however, can be very expensive so refinishing it may be a cheaper option and it will leave the deck looking as good as new. If you have never done this before, follow this guide and you should be able to refinish your deck just like a pro.

Some of the things you will need for this include:

  • A hammer
  • Sanding paper
  • Sander
  • Diluted bleach
  • Power washer
  • Paint/stain

Getting started

Before you can get started, I would advise that you inspect the deck to see the extent of damage caused by the neglect. Check to see if there may be some planks that may need to be replaced, check if there are some major scratches that may need to be filled, nails that may be sticking out and any other thing you may need to know before you get started.

If there are nails sticking out, hammer them back into position and if there is wood that needs to be replaced, go ahead and purchase another one that looks the same as the rest. New wood, however, is obviously going to stand out but there is a remedy for that though it is a topic for another day.

Stripping the old paint

Next, you will need to strip the old paint, this is especially needed if you plan to repaint the deck, but if you are hoping to varnish it, you may not need to strip the old paint. However, I would caution against using varnish for an outdoor deck since the weather will take its toll on it much faster.

Getting back to the stripping, you can use diluted bleach to strip the paint though you need to be careful not to use too much because it can degrade the wood. Alternatively, you can purchase paint thinner which is designed especially for removing paint from wood and comes with instructions for that.

Stripping can be done using a power spray and then a brush to get it to peel off faster.

Wash the deck

After getting off the paint, you need to wash the deck to bring out the natural wood look. For this, you will again need a power washer with high pressure enough to remove dirt and grime from the deck. I would recommend a 25-degree nozzle, anything lower than that may produce pressure that is too high and may damage the wood.

Use the pressure washer like a broom to sweep away anything that is on the deck.

Let it dry

It is vital that you give the wood time to dry completely. It is for this reason that I usually recommend that refinishing the deck is done when there is no rain in the weather forecast otherwise you will end up having interruptions and the task may take longer than a weekend. On a good summer day, the wood can take an hour or two to dry.


When it has dried, you should walk over it to see what condition it is and if all the old paint has been stripped. You can also check to see if the expansion of the wood may have created a need to use your hammer again to hammer some nails back into position. At this point, it is also clear how much scratching may be there so you can determine how much you will need to sand the deck.


This is a very important part of the refinishing process so I will recommend that you have the best sander for decks to ensure you get it done right. Sanding helps to smoothen the surface, you can get rid of splinters and scratches to the wood so that your deck looks as good as new. You also need to ensure your own safety. Cover your nose with a mask, wear gloves and possibly goggles. Also for safety, ensure the sander is not plugged in as you insert the sanding paper. You can read other safety recommendations in the instructions that come with the sander.

Sand the entire deck, making sure that it is smooth and even, do not sand one portion deeper than another because the deck will become uneven and you may find your furniture does not balance well on the surface.

Clean the deck

If you have a vacuum that can handle fine dust, then you should use it to clean the deck. Make sure you collect all the dust from the deck. I usually follow this up with another round of power washing and then I let the deck dry as I make final choices on the type of paint or stain I intend to use. You can take the time as the deck dries to see if you have the right brushes or roller and you can also get masking tape and cover the parts of the wall that you do not want covered in paint or stain.

Paint the deck

When you are sure it is dry, you can begin painting or staining. It is important that you use the best quality stain because that will determine how long you will be able to enjoy a well-finished deck before you have to re do it again. Going for the cheap one will only mean you will have to put in the same amount of work after just a few months.

As you apply the coating, ensure that you do not forget to apply it to the spaces between the planks of wood and under the railings. Some people do forget and find they have to do it after they thought they were done. You should also see to it that you use the right brushes and that your strokes flow so that it is not obvious how many brush strokes you made.

When you are done let it dry for close to 24 hours before you put the furniture back. Also, do not neglect your deck for long or you will have to do a lot of work when you finally choose to refinish it.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top