Cleaning And Sanding A Deck

Should you clean or sand your deck first? This is a critical question. Note that you need to clean your wooden deck before you can refinish it. Failure to remove all debris and dirt means that you lock moisture-trapping elements into the deck. The underlying problem here is that you will have prevented any new sealer performing its intended purpose; thereby leading to general failure in the sealing process and resulting in subsequent costly repairs. Additionally, cleaning provides you with the opportunity to inspect all the stairs, railings, boards, and spindles for any trouble spots or damage.

Start of a pressure washing session on a dirty and mucky deck

Pressure washing progress

Pressure or Power Washing Options

Do not be confused by these terms that are used interchangeably by many supply houses and stores. There is an essential difference in the technique employed by each cleaning option.

A pressure washer uses a stronger force of water, but such water is never hot. This technique has total reliance on water pressure. It is best recommended for surface stains and dirt. You will find this option quicker than power washing.

A power washer, on the other hand, uses a steady hot water stream. This water stream equally a strong force, though not as strong as that of the pressure washer. This technique is commonly used for the removal of moss, mildew, mold, ground-in stains, as well as other hard-to-remove dirt.

The cost of a pressure or power washer ranges from $90 to $180. However, you might need to rent a pressure washer with even higher water force for your cleaning purposes. The price of hiring such a washer is set at a minimum of $36 per hour, although the daily cost might range from $63 to $72 or even more. The variations in price can be caused partly by the washer itself. Usually, high-powered washer models tend to cost higher than lower-powered models. Equally, the washer brand names significantly affect their rental prices. Due to this, such brands as John Deere, Stratton, or Briggs will reasonably cost more than lesser brands.

Arguably, purchasing a personal pressure or power washer makes more sense compared to hiring one. However, there are factors which might discourage you or make you unable to do so. For instance, handling a deck that is either too complicated or big, physical handicaps, and time constraints might necessarily require you to seek the services of a professional.

Therefore, it is important that you are informed of the costs of hiring such a professional. The professional will provide basic staining and sealing services at the cost of between $0.45 and $1.35 per hour for every one square foot. You can opt to complete the staining and sealing tasks yourself, but you face possible challenges associated with improper tool usage which can lead to raising of the wood grain. However, even if you are confident about completing the job properly, you should make sure that you use an ordinary water hose and a brush.

Sanding your Deck

Is your deck scratched, damaged, or heavily stained? Then, you should consider sanding it. Sanding helps in the removal of the top layer on your wood. Any blasting media or power sander can complete your sanding needs effectively. However, power sanders might require some degree of know-how and skill if you are to use them properly. For instance, you can potentially burn the wood if you stand at one point for too long. Although an opaque stain is known to cover the burn, valleys and divots put into the wood when you sand away too much in a single spot might be hard to cover. What’s worse is that these imperfections tend to allow water to pool on your deck and subsequently cause sealer failure.

You must possess the right skill to use blasting media when working on your wooden deck. This means the using blasting media appropriately is not a task to be completed by anyone. There is a high risk of destroying the deck if you do not professionally blast decks. However, if you only have to deal with a dark or deep stain, blasting is your best alternative without necessarily refinishing in a solid paint or stain. You need an estimate of $36 to $59.50 to hire professional blasting services for an hour, although particular blasting service costs are set at an hourly rate of $67.50. The cost of a 50-pound bag of blasting media is around $45.

No matter which method you opt for, it is necessary that you clean your deck first. If you intend to re-stain your deck, you need to remove the old sealer layer first. Your new stain cannot penetrate the wood if you leave the old sealer intact. However, if you are not re-staining your wooden deck, it is allowed to apply a new layer of the sealant on top of the old one. The new sealer will naturally settle over the old one and take over its intended job.

Restoring or refinishing your wooden deck will prove worthwhile whether you hire the services of the pros or you do it yourself. A wooden not only provides a beautiful outdoor space to entertain yourself or to relax but also adds value to your house. However, the deck can only achieve these if it is maintained properly. Therefore, ensure that your deck is regularly maintained, preferably after every one or two years. Regular deck maintenance is an avenue to enjoying your deck for longer.  

Deck Refinishing Steps For Proper Application

Among the relatively complex jobs is deck refinishing. This exercise might last the whole weekend, especially if your wooden deck is elaborate or extensive. For the record, deck refinishing is more complicated than sanding, re-staining, and re-sealing. The following are the basic four steps will ensure effective deck refinishing.

Clean the deck to remove any debris

Your deck must necessarily be free of any debris. Ensure to clean all the spaces between your house and the deck. These spaces can notoriously trap pine needles, leaves, or dirt. Use cleaners, especially those with bleach acids, to remove any form of discoloration that could have been caused by either water damage or other unwanted stains. While a regular water hose is recommended for cleaning purposes, a pressure washer can give better results. What’s more, a pressure washer is easier to come by as it is of absolute necessity for every homeowner owing to its wide range of applications.

Hardwood deck which is cleaned and prepared for staining

Cleaned deck ready for staining or finishing

Thoroughly inspect all fasteners and boards

Almost certainly, you have come across a nail that is popping out. Often, such nails are the cause of injury or tripping hazards especially if you are on your bare feet. Hammer all the nails around the deck to ensure that the nail heads go slightly below the wood surface. Any other fastener and board should be checked to ensure that it is ready for sealing.


Apply your new sealant

The new sealant is to be applied over the old one. However, this is not mandatory. There are instances where you might need to remove the top layer before resealing, especially when the deck is heavily stained, scratched, or damaged. Again, carry out an inspection of the deck for fasteners or boards which could be popping out to avoid damaging your sand belt or sander. Such fasteners can also cause injury to anyone nearby should the belt break and send the abrasive sand paper flying in the air.


Strip the deck before applying new stain

When you leave behind layers of the old sealant as you apply the new stain, you block the new stain from penetrating and settling in the wood. We recommend that you use a combination a pressure washer and chemical strippers to effectively remove all the old stains from the wood without causing any damage to the wood surface. Do not sandblast; it will damage the wood surface. Cover the surrounding landscaping before stripping the deck. After removing the old layers, the new stain can be applied, and the sealant can follow afterward. However, if your deck is made from pressure treated wood, then it is necessary that you contact your supplier before completing any deck restoration process. Pressure treated wood might require you to wait for a month or even a year before you can apply any sealant to avoid damage since such wood was subjected to chemical treatment.


Properly Sealing and Waterproofing a Deck

If you are to retain the attractive appeal of your wooden deck, then you need to seal it regularly. While sealing requires should be done every other few years, some climatic conditions can compel you into sealing the deck every season. Sealing and staining your deck is a major way of ensuring that you preserve it against harsh conditions and elements which can destroy it, as well as part of the regular maintenance requirements. The magic behind preventing your deck from fading, retaining its new look, as well as preventing its wood from splintering is scheduling regular sealing for the deck. Because we are passionate about keeping your deck in good condition, we would love to share with you three primary cost factors to guide you when it comes to making the right decision when you need to maintain the beautiful look on your wooden deck.

After picture of an oak deck which was freshly sealed and cleaned.

Sealed Oak Deck

Sealing versus Waterproofing

This is a major factor of consideration. Are you at crossroads when it comes to choosing between sealer and stain? Well, deck professionalism requires that you avoid staining horizontal decks because the effect of the sun’s rays triggers fast peeling and cracking. In such a situation, you might consider a two-toned deck with a sealed floor but stained railings. However, should you choose to stain your deck floor, then it is advisable that you make sure to reseal the floor after every two years. This will keep your deck floor from eventual cracking and peel-off.


What are the Costs Associated with Sealer or Stain and Sealer Application?

It is important to have an understanding of the possible costs that you will incur in the process of sealing or staining your wooden deck.

For a deck measuring 250 square foot, you will need a budget of between $270 and $360. However, if you opt to stain then seal, your budget will go up, and you will need a total of around $360 to $540 to complete your work. The cost of two gallons of the sealant cost between $45 and $72.

Worth noting is that when you finally settle on the decision to seal your deck, it is of vital significance knowing the difference between sealing and staining. To give you a heads-up, sealing essentially prevents your deck from the effects of moisture. Therefore, when you apply a sealer, you are protecting against mold and mildew buildup. On the other hand, staining is vital for changing the original color of the wood. While some stains may safeguard the wood from moisture, they do not achieve the effectiveness of a sealer.


Applying A Deck Sealer

Applying a wood sealer allows you to use a brush, a sponge, or even a roller. For optimal results, ensure that you are following the directions which come with the sealer. This is so since the sealer or stain will have its manufacturer instructions.

Notably, it might be difficult to determine where you have or haven’t applied the sealer. For this reason, remember always to adopt a sealing pattern that will let you know where you have already applied the sealer to avoid reapplying the sealer or not applying the sealer on some parts at all. Also, worth remembering is that the sealer potentially requires up to two coats for it to soak in properly and for maximum wood protection.

Before applying the sealer, thoroughly clean your deck first. How should go about this? First, mix warm water with a high-quality oxygen bleach and brush the mixture onto your wooden deck surface. This should be followed by scrubbing of the surface using a long-handled brush. Scrubbing is necessary if you are to ensure that you remove any leaf debris, algae, or mold. The last step involves undertaking a thorough inspection for any rot or damage that could have occurred since the deck was last treated. This is the ultimate time during which any board repairs or replacements should be done. When you are sure that the deck is clean and cry, go ahead and apply the sealer.