Refinishing a Wood Deck


Our deck was built long before we moved into this house. It was a well-made deck, and it adds a lot to our backyard, both in square footage and in design. All decks require some maintenance, though, and ours was badly in need of some repair. (This post shows the beginning of our deck restoration project. Read Reclaiming an Old Wood Deck if you'd like to see that whole thing.)
Our dream for the deck was to strip off all the paint and let the original wood show with only a transparent stain. I love wood grain, and the exposed wood showing through where the paint had peeled off gave me hope that this could be a gorgeous wood deck with just a little work.
We started removing the paint. First we used a scrub brush and some deck cleaner. It wasn’t enough. So we rented a pressure washer.
A pressure washer sprays water at high speeds. A gas or electric motor forces the water out at more than 3000 PSI. There are many different sizes of pressure washers. The smallest will clean dirt off your car. The largest can etch cement. Since we didn’t want the wood of our deck etched or ruined, we rented a pressure washer on the smaller side.
It took a few hours to pressure wash the deck and remove most of the paint. It made a mess. Bits of plasticky paint were everywhere. It was much easier than trying to scrub or sand or even chemically remove the old paint from the wood.
Unfortunately, once the paint was stripped off, we learned that the wood boards were in pretty bad condition. A few had termite damage and were removed immediately. The rest were badly worn with large splinters and deep gouges. 
We decided to coat the boards with a deck repair stain, even though it would hide the grain of the wood. One day when we have a bigger budget, we’ll replace all of the boards and use a clear stain on the new wood.
 
Before we could coat the wood, we had to do some repairs. First, we replaced the six boards that had been damaged by termites. All of the boards on our deck seem to be slightly different widths. I’m not sure why, but we had to have the lumberyard custom rip a couple of boards to get them the right width.
The boards had been attached to the frame with nails, which are not as durable as screws. We pulled up all the nails that came out easily (more than half of them) and replaced them with deck screws. We’ll replace the remaining nails as they start to pop up.
If you'd like to see how our beautiful deck turned out, and find out what you need to stain a deck, read the second half of our deck adventure: How to Maintain and Refinish a Wood Deck.

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