Sanding Deck

bassetJune 20, 2006

I just purchased a house and it seems that the deck needs a major rehab. Structurally, the deck is sound, but its splintered and cracked throughout the deck's horizontal surfaces. The vertical surfaces are in decent shape.

The dimensions on the deck are multilevel, 10x40. I am not good at reading woodgrain so I'm not certain what type of wood I'm dealing with. Anyway, I'm going to sand the horizontal surfaces and only clean the vertical surfaces and then seal it.

Before I get the Milwaulkee hand-sander and attack the deck, would there be any harm in using a floor sander from a rental company? My brother-in-law has told me that the floor sander is designed for hardwood floors, not decks. I didn't think that the sander cares about what wood it's sanding, but I need to ask the question given the potential time savings.



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You can use a floor sander if the deck is that bad. Go across, then diagonal then with the grain. Make sure the nails are below the surface so you don't tear the sandpaper. Pop them down a bit with a punch if they are up, or screw a tad deeper if they are screws. Be careful with the floor sander and go easy because it's heavy duty and can dig in. Stay smooth, go easy and the deck will be smooth.
Let the new surface weather a few rains, then clean it with a wood cleaner to get any mildew, algae growth and then follow up with an oxalic acid. (deck brightener) to rid tannin stains, rust stains from nails..etc. These products are usually diluted, read the directions and be cautious with the brightener. Wear gloves, goggles, etc. Careful with splashing yourself.
Let it dry for 2 days and put the stain on later in the day so it doesn't flash dry before it absorbs. Wipe it down 15 minutes later to get the shiny spots off and you got yourself a new deck.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 1:54AM
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A big.. P.S!... Your deck may be pressure-treated and sanding this stuff is toxic. Make sure you close all the doors and windows of your house, wear a mask, goggles, etc. Put the pets and kids in so they aren't breathing this stuff and clean it up the best you can when you're done. Shop vac the dust up on the deck, on the grass, etc.
I don't want to alarm you just be careful in how you do this that's all.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 2:08AM
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Like gorrillabuilder said, make sure those screws/nails are recessed! If not, the heads will shred your sand paper.

Nothing will "restore" a severely weathered deck better than a drum sander.

I buy all my sand paper from Good prices. They can a full assortmant of sandpaper for floor (drum) sanders too. I imagine that you will want to start out with something agressive like 80 grit and finish (parallel to the grain) with something like 220.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 2:59PM
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Thanx folks. I'm going to give it a try. A good way for the kids to earn their keep over the summer - A nickle a for each nail set.

Again, thanx to all.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2006 at 11:41PM
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careful with the high grain of sandpaper.. if you make it too tight it won't absorb stain.. 60-80 should be enough.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2006 at 10:53PM
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it will absorb, but won't adhere as much ......i mean.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2006 at 10:57PM
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(eavesdropping) are you saying the last pass should be just 60 or 80 grit?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 12:02AM
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Celtic, I never go above 60 grit.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 1:42AM
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Thanks for the post,I was looking for the same info.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 1:04PM
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Basset, I have the same situation. The planks are not rotten but are old, slightly twisted in places and uneven. They've probably been painted several times over the years. Did you proceed with the floor sander and how did it work out? I tried a hand sander on my old deck a few years ago, and it did nothing as far as leveling the adjacent planks to the same height.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 11:02AM
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