Dirrrrty cedar deck - Sanding ideas?

dekkinAugust 2, 2008

Working on this greyed cedar deck which needs to be sanded because I'm putting on a translucent stain, so the deck needs to be prepped immaculately.

I am going to rent a drum sander for the surface. Is there any specifications for the drum sander that I should be aware of, like power level etc? I'm thinking of using 100 grit. Also, any tips for using it?

I am going to use an orbital sander on the rails and it looks like I am going to have to hand sand in between the rails.

I'd appreciate any input based on experience with this type of thing. Thanks!

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you don't sand cedar, you pressure wash it. my parent's house uses translucent stain, and PW is all that has ever been done. cedar will natrually turn grey thru out, so even sanding it down will likely never get past the color. most folks just use stain with a grey tint to it when staining older cedar.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 2:39PM
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Using a drum sander on a exterior deck is a fairly bad idea. (Ask me how I know) You must make sure that any nails are pounded down past where the wood will be sanded to. If the drum hits a nail head the sandpaper will basically explode off the drum in a shower of sharp-edged gritty missiles. And given that the sandpaper for the drum sander costs about $10 per sheet, (if I recall correctly) each exploding sheet can add up quickly. Also if the drum itself hits the nail head you could be in for a big rental damage charge.

Furthermore if you pause for even a fraction of a second while sanding, you can easily carve big grooves in your deck, especially with a wood as soft as cedar.

My recommendation, forget about using a sander. Use a Percarbonate-base deck cleaner such as EFC-38, then use a pressure washer to wash the deck cleaner and dirt off the boards, then use a Citric acid based neutralizer, such as Citralic.

If you do decide to go ahead with the drum sander plan, set up a video camera to film youself while you are sanding and post the results on YouTube. The look on your face when the drum sander's paper explodes into fragments will be priceless :-)

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 3:18PM
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I've babbled about this b4 here...

Use a 12" x 18" Vibrating-Plate sander.
MUCH LESS risky than a drum-sander.
* Redwoods' even a little softer than most Cedars!!
* My 12 yo Redwood deck still looks near-new.
* Full sun...no shade past 11 am.
* Sanded it 3 yrs. ago. Used Sikkens SRD #089 Redwood.
* Get a good 1/4-sheet ROM Palm-sander for steps/railings.
(I just got a Porter-Cable of this type. Nice & easy to use!)
* BOTH Sikkens & Cabot (especially Sikkens!) stress that sanding is the perfect method of prepping a deck.
* PLUS...after sanding & dust removal...you're often staining THE SAME DAY...instead of DAYS of dry-time after a Pressure-washer cleaning.
* We sell a LOT of Sikkens at our store. We normally counsel our clients on the sanding-regimen in many instances. They usually come back & thank us!
* "No one ever told us to sand before..." is a common statement too!!
* If a deck hasn't been sanded in 10 years...IT'S TIME.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 12:44AM
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100 grit is too fine - you're going to close up the pores in the wood and the stain will not penetrate properly and lead to premature failure.

We would perform BOTH a deep clean with detergents and water then, upon sufficient drying, detail (sand/debur/defur) prior to installing our Woodrich Brand choice of finish.


    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 3:59AM
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What Carolina said!!!

Yep, the smoothest grit I've used for My deck is 80.
I used my 1/3-sheet sander for sanding vertically between the spindles on the fascia-boards...started with some 36-grit(!!!!) believe it or no!

MY South & West-facing 2x8 fascia-boards were looking a little tough (ridged). Slowly working my way up to an 80-grit finishing-pass.

My Redwood (construction-heart grade Redwood) deck was built in May '96 for about $3800.
* It's only 12' x 14'.
* Full Redwood. Only the sub-frame is Treated-wood.
* 4" x 4" posts are Redwood too, along with the 2" x 12" outer Stringers.
* 9 steps down to yard (18 2" x 6"'s).
* I had these run through a planer 3 yrs. ago.

I don't want to THINK what it would cost now?!?!!?
(You can't even GET Redwood in town here anymore...)


    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 10:57AM
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ok, thanks for the responses! Sorry bob, nothing exploded and i didnt record my drum sanding for youtube, but i can give you tips if you need any!. I had previously cleaned it using a cleaner called biowash from HD and then when that didnt work i tried stripping it with strip-x from HD. I powerwashed both and neither worked particularly well.

The drum sander worked alright - the main problem was the board are uneven so it didnt get every spot, which was annoying. I did 2 passes in both directions with a 36 and then 2 passes with a 60. I went over some parts with my 1/3 makita at 80 grit.

This deck was in very bad shape given its young age of 3 years, whatever was on there just did not come off. It needed ALOT of sanding. I can't imagine how long it would take with a 1/3 sander, the thing that worked best was a random orbital at 40 grit. i tried a dewalt 1/4 sheet, which was almost equivalent power wise to the random orbital but it just didnt do as good a job. The sanding got back ALOT of the original cedar colour. I am using cabot clear solution to stain it.

I agree with sikkens that sanding is the best prep method. This deck looks amazing to what is used to and once I stain it will look even better. Alas, it is far from perfect but I could put a lot more time into it if i wanted to get it to near new. Oh, and dam spindles! I had to sand them by hand as all my sanders are too big!

I wish that same day sanding and staining thing was true! It took me more than a few days to finish sanding - and there hasnt been a day without rain here for a while...

Question: Carolina, what products for cleaning and stripping do you use and what's your rates for cleaning/stripping and sanding. That must be a lot of work!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 11:44PM
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We use the full product suite from Extreme Solutions (www.woodrich-brand.com). We don't have definitive rates - every job is different and we price accordingly depending on species, prior finish or not, age, accessibility, size - the only constant is that we measure every square inch to be cared for :)

Although it is a lot of work, it is something that we have been fortunate enough to not only become very good at but also really love doing, therefore, it's not just a job for us. Lots of personal satisfaction in every project we take on :)


    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 12:56AM
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