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Without proper maintenance, a wooden deck won’t last long. To protect your deck and keep it looking like new, you need to refinish it and give it a fresh coat of stain. In this second video in our 2-part series on deck maintenance, we’ll show you the basics of sanding and staining a wooden deck.

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Now that we’ve completed the majority of the prep work to replace the rotten deck boards, strip the deck of its previous coating and brighten the bare wood using a wood brightener, now it’s time to take the final measures to get the surface ready for a fresh coat of stain. While the deck looks ready to stain at this point, there are a few final steps that will make the finished product even that much nicer.

Today we’re going to thoroughly examine the deck surface before applying our coat of stain. We’re going to sand away some rough spots, use the router to ease some edges and then apply our stain to finish the job. So let’s get started.

Most professional deck refinishers will tell you they’ve never met a deck that didn’t need sanding before the finish coat was applied. And our deck is no different. Here is where a little extra effort can mean professional results in the end.

For example, in this area, the top surface of these deck boards that butt up to one aren’t even. One sticks up above the other, which could cause someone to trip. We’ll use our belt sander to level the surface so the two boards are flush.

Over here we see the same thing. It’s important to take some time to make sure all of these butt joints are flush with one another. We’ll start with a very coarse 40 grit sanding belt for quick removal of material, then we’ll work our way up to an 80 grit sanding belt which will smooth things out a bit. A light sanding with our random orbit sander and a 120 grit sanding disc will make our boards smooth.

In addition to high spots, we’ll also need to look for areas where the previous finish wasn’t entirely removed, as you see here. A light sanding with our belt sander will take care of it in no time. Also try to taper your sanding away from the problem areas to make them less noticeable, like I’m doing here. This will lead to a more uniform finish in the end.

I always like to blow off any remaining sawdust from sanding before I start staining. A quick shot with this leave blower will do the trick.

Now ... finally ... our deck is ready for staining. Just think about all the prep work we’ve done to this point. But it will all pay off when you see our final finish. So what are we waiting for?

The stain that we’ll be applying to our deck is a semi-transparent translucent oil stain that will provide some color, yet will still allow a lot of the wood grain to show through. Being an oil based stain, it will soak into the wood and provide protection from both moisture penetration and UV rays.

The type of stain you selected should be based on factors such as the type of wood your deck is made of, and the location of your deck and whether it’s mostly in the sun or the shade. You should also test it first on a similar type of deck board to check the color before applying it to your entire deck. Sometimes the colors we choose don’t look quite right when we apply them to the deck. You’re local independent home improvement retailer probably has a wood sample chart with various colors of stain and how it looks on common deck boards, such as cedar and pressure treated wood, as our deck is made of.

For more information, see our frequently asked questions specific to this video.

To apply the stain, we have several options. First, we could spray it on using our deck sprayer. We could also roll it on using our roller with a 3/8" nap roller cover. We could also apply the stain using a lambswool mit or staining pads. While all of these methods have their pros and cons, we’re going with the slow and thorough approach, using a large china bristle brush. However, to save on back strain we’ll swap out our brush handle with this paint extension pole.

Plan on this step to take approximately an hour to cover 100 square feet of decking using this application method.

Now that we’re finished, we’ll make sure everyone stays off the deck for 24 hours before anyone walks on it.

There you have it. A deck that looks great and a surface that will look as good as new for the next several years. And all it took to bring our deck back to life was just a few hours over the course of a couple days. Time well spent if you ask me.

If you have questions about this or any other home improvement project, be sure to read our list of Frequently Asked Questions for this video. And be sure to print out our Project Instructions, which includes a Tools and Materials checklist, before visiting your local independent home improvement retailer. That’s where you’ll find all the products and helpful advice to complete your project. If you’re not sure where to find your local store, check out our Store Locator.

Good luck with your project and thanks for watching.

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  1. 1.sand

    Use a belt sander to level the surface of the deck and spots were the previous stain wasn't removed.

  2. 2.level ends

    Use a router and a round-over bit to even out the end of the deck.

  3. 3.sweep

    Sweep or blow off sand dust.

  4. 4.warped wood

    Wait for a time when you will have a few sunny days in a row to allow stain to dry. Apply stain in even amounts.

  5. 5.let dry

    Stay off the deck until it dries.


Project Faqs « back to project

What’s the difference between transparent, semi-transparent and solid stains?

The difference lies in the amount of pigment in each. Transparent stains, although they appear clear, have some pigment in them for UV protection.... More »

Do I need to sand my deck before staining it?

Sanding deck boards before proceeding with the staining process helps ensure that the surface of the deck is level and there are no tripping... More »

I’m going to apply an oil-base stain to my deck. Do I need to strip the existing finish off first before applying the new stain?

If the existing finish was a water- or latex-base stain, then you should remove it before re-staining. If it is an oil-base finish, then you can... More »

What is causing the ends of my deck boards to crack?

Excessive cracking at the ends of wooden deck boards is a sign that too much water is being absorbed into the ends of the board (also known as end... More »

How often do I need to stain my deck?

It’s a good idea to reapply stain once a year on wooden decks, especially if the deck is located in full sun most of the time. The sun’s... More »

What’s the best type of stain to use on my wooden deck, an oil or latex base stain?

There are pros and cons to each type. Oil base stains generally offer better penetration into the wood to offer more protection from water... More »

What can I use to clean my deck?

You can use one of the deck brightener products that are on the market, or you can use TSP (trisodium phosphate). You can also use a power washer... More »

How do I maintain my redwood deck?

Redwood is stronger than other woods, so you can let it weather naturally and it is less likely to warp or split. It will weather to a natural gray... More »

How can I tell if my deck boards need replaced before I refinish it?

If there are signs on rotting and you can poke a hole through the wood with a screwdriver, you’ll want to replace those boards with new ones of... More »

Should I apply the deck stripper by spraying it on or with a roller?

If It’s a windy day, they you should use a roller to control overspray. However, if it’s a calm day with no wind, they you can probably apply it... More »

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