Home & Garden

Huge old deck to sand and stain

  • Last Updated:
  • Jun 20th, 2020 10:06 pm
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Dec 6, 2006
5111 posts
1457 upvotes
Toronto

Huge old deck to sand and stain

My house has this huge deck. It probably was stained before, can see a few vertical hidden spots with some old stain. But for the most part can consider pretty much bare wood, very well (or badly, should I say) seasoned and weathered.
To properly do it, I'd imagine need to sand everything, which requires hammering all the nails down a notch. Clean, and stain twice.

Problem is it's huge. The lot is on a slope downward to the back, so basement at the back of the house is actually ground floor. Desk is at main-floor level which is 1 floor up. The main deck area alone is probably ~500 sqft. The stairs going down with 14 steps, and 2 landings(?) area. Then all the railing, and also has an open deck roof that covers about half the area, the underside of the deck and posts.
AND.... the deck continues and wraps around one side of the house/garage all the way to the front (which then becomes ground level). This side is probably another ~300 sqft and more railings.

There's no way I'd be able to finish all these or do everything properly in 1 season. Any suggestion how I can tackle this in smaller chunks?
Not even gona mention the fences at this point lol....


EDIT: adding pics
  • Main deck area:
  • 20180915_134042_2.jpg
  • Wrap on 1 side of house all the way to front, with a couple steps and turns
  • 20181006_112031_2.jpg
  • Stairs from main deck area
  • 20181006_112059_2.jpg
52 replies
Newbie
Sep 8, 2018
73 posts
70 upvotes
For the deck itself just get a floor sander from HD, as for the rest buy a belt sander and some 40 grit belts and get to it.

Ive just moved back into my house after it being leased out for 2 years, tenants didnt do much up keep so I used my pressure washer to clean the deck down which exposed some of the grain. Im just waiting to have to belt sanders delivered with 40 and 80 grit belts and the wife and I will get to it, deck is 36 x 12
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Dec 6, 2006
5111 posts
1457 upvotes
Toronto
barrybeefburger wrote: For the deck itself just get a floor sander from HD, as for the rest buy a belt sander and some 40 grit belts and get to it.

Ive just moved back into my house after it being leased out for 2 years, tenants didnt do much up keep so I used my pressure washer to clean the deck down which exposed some of the grain. Im just waiting to have to belt sanders delivered with 40 and 80 grit belts and the wife and I will get to it, deck is 36 x 12
Floor sander as in rental ones? Which particular models of floor and belt sanders you getting?
Wonder how much sanding I can/should go. The wood grain is currently pretty rough due to weathering. To get to smooth surface, will have to sand down quite a bit. Will need to hammer the hundreds of nails before I can do that... any concern there aside from extremely time consuming?

Do have a pressure washer, tried that on a small section of the side deck last year.
Deal Fanatic
Dec 5, 2009
5677 posts
3429 upvotes
Hard to tell from the photos but you may not need to sand. Maybe pressure wash and use that wood cleaner stuff. I’ve been surprised how well it works.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 25, 2007
9961 posts
5246 upvotes
Paris
I would start with deck wash and an old broom (deck wash has chlorine in it so if you have flowers around, move them). Pressure washers, even on low, tend to rip up the wood fibres in a not good way.

If you need to focus your energy, the place most decks rot the fastest, and where the stain wear off the fastest, is on the decking which will grab and hold water. Anything like a railing that is vertical will shed water, but water will fall and stick to horizontal surfaces. Alternatively, do the section you use the most first.

My parents in their 70s stain our cottage deck alone every 3 years which is bigger than this. For mine, I use a paint sprayer and it goes stupid fast once you have it all cleaned up. As with any painting job, the prep is where the time is.

Also, when you do it, make sure forecast is 10 degrees plus for 48 hours and no rain. Will adhere best that way.
Newbie
Sep 8, 2018
73 posts
70 upvotes
boyohboy wrote: Floor sander as in rental ones? Which particular models of floor and belt sanders you getting?
Wonder how much sanding I can/should go. The wood grain is currently pretty rough due to weathering. To get to smooth surface, will have to sand down quite a bit. Will need to hammer the hundreds of nails before I can do that... any concern there aside from extremely time consuming?

Do have a pressure washer, tried that on a small section of the side deck last year.
Yeah, rental floor sanders.

Before you get carried away remember its a deck not a dance floor,
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Dec 6, 2006
5111 posts
1457 upvotes
Toronto
fdl wrote: Hard to tell from the photos but you may not need to sand. Maybe pressure wash and use that wood cleaner stuff. I’ve been surprised how well it works.

Closeup pics
Images
  • IMG_20200408_135644.jpg
  • IMG_20200408_135537.jpg
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
15926 posts
13165 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
Jerico wrote: I would start with deck wash and an old broom (deck wash has chlorine in it so if you have flowers around, move them). Pressure washers, even on low, tend to rip up the wood fibres in a not good way.

If you need to focus your energy, the place most decks rot the fastest, and where the stain wear off the fastest, is on the decking which will grab and hold water. Anything like a railing that is vertical will shed water, but water will fall and stick to horizontal surfaces. Alternatively, do the section you use the most first.

My parents in their 70s stain our cottage deck alone every 3 years which is bigger than this. For mine, I use a paint sprayer and it goes stupid fast once you have it all cleaned up. As with any painting job, the prep is where the time is.

Also, when you do it, make sure forecast is 10 degrees plus for 48 hours and no rain. Will adhere best that way.
Another awesome post by @Jerico with great home advice

We find the greatest wear & tear to be stair treads ... and wherever you walk a lot ... lol like the direct path from your back door to the BBQ

I also recommend skipping the pressure washer ... people opt for it cuz they think it easy
But all that pressure & water can do a ton of damage too

We are currently dealing with a fairly new built deck Smiling Face With Sunglasses

But when we had the old deck ... we restained it a few times

And did the broom method, then a sand (rented the sander from Home Depot)

Stained using a roller on the horizontals, and a brush on the verticals
Vertical work was tedious, but fortunately it holds stain much better
And requires less seasonal touch ups

Even with my fairly new all cedar deck though ... I still got to do touch ups / maintenance on areas that take the most traffic, wear & tear, and sometimes ... snow fall. All can wreck havoc with the durability of stain
Last edited by PointsHubby on Apr 8th, 2020 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Oct 19, 2008
6609 posts
2186 upvotes
GTA
Good advice above, if boards were screwed down I would suggest flipping them over but its a helluva job if well nailed.
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Dec 6, 2006
5111 posts
1457 upvotes
Toronto
Jerico wrote: I would start with deck wash and an old broom (deck wash has chlorine in it so if you have flowers around, move them). Pressure washers, even on low, tend to rip up the wood fibres in a not good way.

If you need to focus your energy, the place most decks rot the fastest, and where the stain wear off the fastest, is on the decking which will grab and hold water. Anything like a railing that is vertical will shed water, but water will fall and stick to horizontal surfaces. Alternatively, do the section you use the most first.

My parents in their 70s stain our cottage deck alone every 3 years which is bigger than this. For mine, I use a paint sprayer and it goes stupid fast once you have it all cleaned up. As with any painting job, the prep is where the time is.

Also, when you do it, make sure forecast is 10 degrees plus for 48 hours and no rain. Will adhere best that way.
barrybeefburger wrote:
Yeah, rental floor sanders.

Before you get carried away remember its a deck not a dance floor,
Yeah I feel the (re)staining is for sure the easiest part. Preping it (properly) is the much bigger task, since it hasn't been maintained for maybe 10+(?) years. Once/if I can get it back in shape, hopefully things get easier going forward.

I'm fine with a rougher surface, to be honest. Doesn't have to be smooth. As long as that won't nullify the protection to be expected from the stain/oil. Likely going with Cutek or something.
Would simply cleaning (with those deck cleaning solution) and brushing, without sanding, works??
Last edited by boyohboy on Apr 8th, 2020 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 25, 2007
9961 posts
5246 upvotes
Paris
boyohboy wrote: Yeah I feel the (re)staining is for sure the easiest part. Preping it (properly) is the much bigger task, since it hasn't been maintained for maybe 10+(?) years. Once/if I can get it back in shape, hopefully things get easier going forward.

I'm fine with a rougher surface, to be honest. Doesn't have to be smooth. As long as that won't nullify the protection to be expected from the stain/oil. Likely going with Cutek or something.
Start with a jug of deck wash and see where that gets you. For me, it got me very very far, but I had built my deck and stained it the second summer. Each time I have done it I am shocked at how deck wash and a good broomin’ restore it for stain.
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Dec 6, 2006
5111 posts
1457 upvotes
Toronto
Jerico wrote: Start with a jug of deck wash and see where that gets you. For me, it got me very very far, but I had built my deck and stained it the second summer. Each time I have done it I am shocked at how deck wash and a good broomin’ restore it for stain.
Ok. So just wash & brush, without sanding? I guess question is does lack of sanding makes the stain/oil significantly less effective?

Last year my quick try with pressure washer alone without any soap or chemical, and even that def made a big difference in restoring some color. That appearance is honest good enough for me at this point, esp if the stain/oil gona add more color to it.
Deal Addict
Dec 17, 2007
2362 posts
1333 upvotes
Alliston, ON
You probably don't need to sand your deck since it's been so long since it was last stained. There probably isn't any stain left on the wood. I'd start with a pressure wash and a good deck cleaning product. Cutek makes one called ProClean that works well.
After that you can to a test to see if the wood absorbs water. Sprinkle some cold water on the deck and see if it gets absorbed into the wood or if it beads up. If the wood absorbs it, then it can take a new stain.
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Dec 6, 2006
5111 posts
1457 upvotes
Toronto
schade wrote: You probably don't need to sand your deck since it's been so long since it was last stained. There probably isn't any stain left on the wood. I'd start with a pressure wash and a good deck cleaning product. Cutek makes one called ProClean that works well.
After that you can to a test to see if the wood absorbs water. Sprinkle some cold water on the deck and see if it gets absorbed into the wood or if it beads up. If the wood absorbs it, then it can take a new stain.
Thanks. For sure there isn't any stain/paint left on 98% of it. The only stain left is on the vertical surfaces (balusters?) that's "shaded" from direct sunlight/rain.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Sep 1, 2005
12554 posts
7293 upvotes
Markham
You have to either hammer those nail heads down or if you can get them out, put screws in instead. Whether you sand or not depends on how rough it is and whether you walk around in shoes or bare feet/socks. If bare feet or socks, you want it smooth unless you like slivers. You can spot sand if there are certain areas which are worst.

Easiest thing to do is hammer nails down, clean it well and use a solid stain. The solid stain might take care of popping wood grain. Once solid stained, it's a periodic maintenance requirement.

Stay away from things that are like shellac like Thomson Water Seal and similar products...I've done it and never ever again as it peels like worn nailpolish.

No matter what you do, it's a pretty big job.
We're all bozos on the bus until we find a way to express ourselves...

Failure is always an option...just not the preferred one!
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Dec 6, 2006
5111 posts
1457 upvotes
Toronto
gr8dlr wrote: You have to either hammer those nail heads down or if you can get them out, put screws in instead. Whether you sand or not depends on how rough it is and whether you walk around in shoes or bare feet/socks. If bare feet or socks, you want it smooth unless you like slivers. You can spot sand if there are certain areas which are worst.

Easiest thing to do is hammer nails down, clean it well and use a solid stain. The solid stain might take care of popping wood grain. Once solid stained, it's a periodic maintenance requirement.

Stay away from things that are like shellac like Thomson Water Seal and similar products...I've done it and never ever again as it peels like worn nailpolish.

No matter what you do, it's a pretty big job.
The nails are definitely a major pain point, can't believe the whole deck is done with nails. Perhaps I'll replace with screws for the more exposed ones that otherwise I have to hammer down.

Probably won't go with solid stain however. Much prefer semi-transparent stain... likely going with Cutek oil stain.
Still deciding if using Cutek for wash too, that seem rather expensive..
Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2002
6411 posts
1076 upvotes
If it's pressure treated wood don't forget to use a face mask to protect against the dust. The old PT wood was based on an arsenic formula.
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Dec 6, 2006
5111 posts
1457 upvotes
Toronto
woof wrote: If it's pressure treated wood don't forget to use a face mask to protect against the dust. The old PT wood was based on an arsenic formula.
Thanks. Does remind me, not sure what wood I have there. Can anyone tell from the pics? Guesstimate how old they are?
Newbie
Feb 16, 2020
54 posts
16 upvotes
Windsor
So after all that what to do and what not to do and what I did that is the opposite from what he did, lol, your head must be spinning. Stain likes a ruff surface to bite into. In furniture and any produce that is stained correctly, it is sanded to "make it ruff" , NOT to sand to make is smooth. Stain will not stick to a polished surface and this is a huge mistake made by thousands of woodworkers. I would go at that deck with a pressure washer and rip the grain open. Use as much pressure as you can and keep the wand only a few inches away from the surface which will let you only rip a path an inch to a inch and half wide at a time. By the time your done that size of a deck you will need a new set of arms. You will also get enough dirt out of those boards to grow potatoes. Start on inside corners and blast the spray out and away so when the dirty water sits it does not leave the dirt behind. When you get a section done back off with the wand and shoot a 12" pattern and wash away all the loose dirt you just brought to the surface. You now have water driven deep into your deck boards so it will need to dry out at least a week in hot non rain weather. Use a water base solid stain as mentioned above and it will attach to any damp spots much better then an oil base. Best BUT harder and longer to do would be a brush as you can "poke" at areas of open grain. Roller would be second with a lot of shaggy hair on it, lol so it will dump the stain into the open grain. IF you go with a second coat do it while the first coat is almost dry as then you will have one thick coat and not 2 thin coats where the second is sitting on the first. Some manufactures do not want you to do a second coat, just read the directions for use on what ever you decide to use. Me, i like Thompson solid water base and available in many colors. Do it in sections . Wash around 200 sq ft, once dry completely, wash another 200 and stain the first 200. Should take ya around 4 hours each time. Also try your best to get a brush down as far as possible on the edges as it will stand out like a sore thumb if not. Do that part first if you decide to use a roller on the flats.
Deal Addict
Dec 17, 2007
2362 posts
1333 upvotes
Alliston, ON
1sammy1 wrote: So after all that what to do and what not to do and what I did that is the opposite from what he did, lol, your head must be spinning. Stain likes a ruff surface to bite into. In furniture and any produce that is stained correctly, it is sanded to "make it ruff" , NOT to sand to make is smooth. Stain will not stick to a polished surface and this is a huge mistake made by thousands of woodworkers. I would go at that deck with a pressure washer and rip the grain open. Use as much pressure as you can and keep the wand only a few inches away from the surface which will let you only rip a path an inch to a inch and half wide at a time. By the time your done that size of a deck you will need a new set of arms. You will also get enough dirt out of those boards to grow potatoes. Start on inside corners and blast the spray out and away so when the dirty water sits it does not leave the dirt behind. When you get a section done back off with the wand and shoot a 12" pattern and wash away all the loose dirt you just brought to the surface. You now have water driven deep into your deck boards so it will need to dry out at least a week in hot non rain weather. Use a water base solid stain as mentioned above and it will attach to any damp spots much better then an oil base. Best BUT harder and longer to do would be a brush as you can "poke" at areas of open grain. Roller would be second with a lot of shaggy hair on it, lol so it will dump the stain into the open grain. IF you go with a second coat do it while the first coat is almost dry as then you will have one thick coat and not 2 thin coats where the second is sitting on the first. Some manufactures do not want you to do a second coat, just read the directions for use on what ever you decide to use. Me, i like Thompson solid water base and available in many colors. Do it in sections . Wash around 200 sq ft, once dry completely, wash another 200 and stain the first 200. Should take ya around 4 hours each time. Also try your best to get a brush down as far as possible on the edges as it will stand out like a sore thumb if not. Do that part first if you decide to use a roller on the flats.
Oil based stains soak into the wood to offer superior protection than water based stains that just make a film on top of the wood. Oil based stains don't care if the surface is rough or smooth as the product gets absorbed into the wood.

Avoid any water based stains that form a film coating on top of the wood. They'll just end up flaking off leaving you an unprotected deck.
Use Cutek as you are already thinking and you won't regret it

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