How To Sand Your Wood Deck 4.8/5 (25)

by Deck Stain Help

This post was updated on January 18, 2022

How To Sand Your Wood Deck 2022

We appreciate your input here at Deckstainhelp.com as we continue to be your go-to source for the latest in deck restoration news and trending topics through 2022. See below for an article about How To Sand Your Wood Deck.

Feel free to leave a comment or ask questions below.


How to correctly sand your deck before staining

Hot To Sand a Wood Deck

Hot To Sand a Wood Deck

If you’re fed up with looking out at your peeling, dull, grey, sun-beaten deck then it’s time to think about re-staining the boards. As every DIYer knows – this begins with the correct surface preparation.

Step 1: Power washing

Before you start the sanding process, begin by power washing the surface of your deckUsing a deck stain stripper will help to remove old coatings.

Remember, softer woods like cedar may require a less powerful stream of water. If you are using a pressure washer, then make sure to keep it on a lower setting and hold it a little further away so as not to raise the chips and cause splinters.

After pressure washing, leave the deck to dry for up to two days, depending on the local climate.

Step 2: Choosing the correct sanding tools

Sanding removes any raised wood fibers from power washing and opens the pores of the wood to assist in soaking in the stain or sealer.

It is important to use the correct sanding grit on your deck. The recommended sanding grit is 60 to 80. This is because a higher grit could make the deck too smooth, and will close down the pores of the wood. Closed pores make it more difficult for the stain to be absorbed and could lead to premature stain failure.

Use a hand sander or belt sander. To remove a solid deck stain or paint, you may need a floor drum sander.

Start with 60 grit paper and finish with 80 grit. Make sure to sand all wood evenly.

Step 3: Final Prep

After sanding, it is suggested to lightly clean and brighten the wood. This will help open the wood grain so the stain can dive even deeper into the wood. Better penetration = better stain performance!

With the right equipment and a fair dose of effort, you should be able to restore your deck and enhance the beauty of the wood.

Please Rate This. You may also post comments or ask questions below.

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Steve
Steve
3 months ago

I stained my cedar deck recently and ended up with shiny spots I used twp 1500 cleaned and brightened first only 1 coat if I wait 1yr can I use there stripper to remove and begin the process again or do I need to sand it all down. Thanks for any help

Patricia Hamel
Patricia Hamel
4 months ago

I have a 830 sq ft redwood deck that is mostly covered. It was possibly treated with a semi solid stain that took over a month to dry 10 years ago. Now it is peeling and worn. I live in the high desert of Arizona. Can you tell me the best was to prep and stain and what products to use for this environment? I think I would prefer oil based that would dry.

Patricia Hamel
Patricia Hamel
4 months ago

Here are a couple of pictures of my poor deck. Thanks, Patricia Hamel

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Patricia Hamel
Patricia Hamel
4 months ago

Thanks so much for your information. I kind of thought that would be the case. I guess I’ll rent a drum sander. How can I get between the boards?

Keith Merwin
Keith Merwin
4 months ago

Hi, good article on sanding. My deck is 3 years old. Treated Pine. Mill glaze and fuzzies and UV damage on some boards. questions: Is this the process? 1) Cleaner. 2) Brightener. 3) After wood dries from brightner, sand using 60-to-80 grit sand paper to remove mill glaze/fuzzies 4) Then stain? OR DO YOU SAND OFF MILL GLAZE AFTER WOOD DRIES FROM CLEANER AND BEFORE APPLYING BRIGHTNER? Just trying to determine what brings out the fuzziers-cleaner or brightner.

Keith Merwin
Keith Merwin
4 months ago

Thank you One final question-if I determine that I cannot do a second coat of TWP 100 semi transparent oil stain per the directions, and must wait for another year to do a second coat (I know, will have to apply cleaner and brighter again for a second coat in a year), HOW LONG WILL MY OPENED CAN OF TWP 100 LAST to apply in a year, provided I seal the can up good?

Adam
Adam
6 months ago

Good afternoon, I’m hoping someone can help me. I recently moved into a house with a deck that my wife don’t care for the color. She wants to go more natural color stain. After reviewing some comments on the website I think I’ll need to sand off the old finish is a solid stain. I posted pictures of the containers that were left my precious owners.

So I guess my question is what are the correct steps to going about this project.

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Christine
Christine
6 months ago

I have a pressure treated deck that’s a few years old. I have used a Behr deck cleaner, pressure washed, used a 50/50 bleach and water to brighten and further clean and pressure washed again on all horizontal deck boards and hand rails. All vertical posts I just pressure washed. I did all this before finding your website. I would like to use the RAD stain. Do I need to start all over with prep work using cleaner and brightener for RAD before staining or can I just go ahead and stain all these surfaces?

Pam Chandler
Pam Chandler
7 months ago

Hello There. We have a one year old cedar deck (approx 750 sq feet) around our in ground pool Recently we hired someone to stain the deck. Prior to staining the deck was pressure washed several weeks ahead of time. Arbor coat oil based translucent natural stain was used. It was done on a hot day and we noticed after that the stain did not take evenly with obvious darker and lighter areas and bubble up in many areas (most boards). What is the best solution to fix this? Or so we leave it alone, let it fade and Re-do in another year or too? Thank you.

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Pam Chandler
Pam Chandler
7 months ago

Thank you.

Tonya Smith-Glover
Tonya Smith-Glover
7 months ago

I used deck cleaner to prepare for staining and it made a horrible blotchy mess over the whole thing. The deck was built last summer with pressure-treated lumber and left to dry until this year. I used Olympic deck wash and rinsed it after 10 min. What did I do wrong? It’s too dark out now for picks but is there any way to fix this? Have I ruined my deck? I’ve seen a few posts about this product but no fixes.

KDB
KDB
7 months ago

We posted pics a few weeks ago with peeling Behr product from last spring on a 7 yr old deck. We stripped and power washed and then had to sand as it did not remove all of the old semi transparent stain. I just finished sanding with 60 grit and am ready to brighten with the Restore a deck brightener and then stain with restore a deck stain. I’ved looked over the website and can’t find a clear answer… can I brighten and stain right after sanding? Restore a deck suggests letting the wood weather. You guys seem to say we don’t need to do that.

2nd. one of your videos says you can stain while damp after brightening. Is that true as well for after sanding and brightening?

Thank you!

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KDB
KDB
7 months ago

thank you!!!

Kelly
Kelly
7 months ago
Reply to  KDB

I stained with RAD semi transparent with their brush they sell. It has been several days and there are tacky spots. Incredibly frustrating after the hours spent prepping. There are some shiny spots so i guess it is an absorbing issue. I’m not doing anything else with it now but next spring…will I need to strip and brighten or just clean and brighten do you think?

ecprice21
ecprice21(@ecprice21)
8 months ago

Hello. We are working on restoring a redwood deck that is about 20 years old. We tested some stain on the floorboards and it looked much worse than a smoother area that was covered by a hot tub. We are wondering if they need to be sanded again (we sanded the boards already but it was in rough shape). We also stripped and cleaned the wood prior to sanding. Any help/advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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Last edited 8 months ago by Erin P
Michael
Michael
8 months ago

Hi, Thank you for this resource, I wish I would have found it a couple years ago.

We moved into our house 3 years ago, so I am not sure how long before that the previous owners stained the deck. It was in decent shape and really showed the great cedar color.

It started to show wear a year later we hired a referral from a friend to come power wash and restain it. They said they could not get the old stain off and we needed to use a solid stain, they only used a power washer and not a stripper and we didn’t know any better to ask. So we went to Home Depot and bought the Behr Premium Solid Color stain and sealer, they applied it to the deck and within a few months our chairs for our table had started to remove the stain and within a year most of the deck, even non-high traffic areas were peeling.

I am now in the process of power washing and sanding the deck to try to get it back to the shape it was in when we moved in. I bought the Behr stripper and cleaner but from reading other posts I will be returning that to Home Depot this week.

I have a belt sander and a random orbit stander with 80 grit paper that has been working pretty well on the top but the in between the solid stain is still there.

The one question I had on sanding the deck is how do you get between the boards efficiently and is it even worth it?

Any help or suggestions would be appreciated!

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Barb
Barb
8 months ago

I just had someone build me a deck with eastern red cedar from a local mill. What type of sander should I use. I will have to purchase one but don’t want to spend a lot.

Anna
Anna
1 year ago

Hello, I am so glad I found this website. We need some serious help with our deck!
We live on the north coast of Oregon. Our deck sees rain, direct sun, ice and occasionally snow in the winter. The deck was built in 2015 and is made of cedar.
My husband and I used Restore A Deck stripper (to remove last summer’s oil based clear coat) and brightener. He washed the deck with the pressure washer too. We let it dry for three days and then applied Outdoor Defense Oil (which is made from tung & pine oils and zinc).
Now we have a TERRIBLE case of the furries! It looks awful. See attached photos. We are wondering what our next steps should be.
Thank you in advance!
We appreciate any suggestions!

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Anna
Anna
1 year ago

Thank you for your comments. Question: Strip and brighten again? What will that do to resolve the fuzzy stuff?

We were thinking to brush the deck with a stiff bristle brush then use a blower to remove all loose material and then apply another coat of oil.

Patrick
Patrick
1 year ago

Is it always necessary to sand the deck after it’s been pressure washed with a deck cleaning? Or can I just move onto using a deck brightener right after cleaning it?

Patrick
Patrick
1 year ago

Is the process of sanding only necessary when you need to remove an old solid stain/old paint?

Alan
Alan
1 year ago

I have a 5 year old cedar deck. I just used Defy Extreme Stripper followed by Defy Brightener. After brightening, the deck developed a case of the fuzzies/furries. I am going to lightly hand sand with 80 grit to get rid of the wood beard, followed by rinsing the deck with a garden hose. Do I have to brighten again prior to applying the Defy Extreme Semi-Transparent stain? Thanks for your help.

Michelle Taylor
Michelle Taylor
1 year ago

I have the same situation as above. I used the stain remover, the brightener, power washed, then sanded with 80 grit. I guess I need to use the brightener again. So it’s okay to just rinse with the garden hose before brightening again?

LP Gagnon
LP Gagnon(@lp-gagnon)
1 year ago

Hello and thank you for the vast amount of information found on your website. I’m about to take on a staining project for a 8 year old deck that has been previously stained with Olympic semi-transparent (water-based acrylic oil hybrid) about 4 or 5 years ago with no real maintenance ever since. We want to completely remove the Olympic stain to apply a better stain. After gathering all the information found on your website I think we have our plan:

1) Strip the deck to help remove some of the previous stain
2) After drying for 48 hrs, sand the deck with 60-80 grit.
3) Wash the deck with deck cleaner
4) Brighten the deck with wood brightener
5) After drying for 48hrs, stain using TWP or Armstrong stain.

Can you confirm if these are all the steps required and in the right order to achieve optimal results? Are they all required in our case (eg: stripping AND sanding? or just 1 of the 2? )? We don’t mind doing all the work, we’re only looking to achieve best results as possible. I have added a picture to show the current state of the deck. Thanks in advance for the help.

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LP Gagnon
LP Gagnon(@lp-gagnon)
1 year ago

Thank you so much!

LP Gagnon
LP Gagnon
1 year ago

Follow up question. Is any additional prep required if it rains after sanding/cleaning/brightening but prior to staining? I’m seeing some opposite stances on this on the internet and among the people I asked. If it rains after sanding/cleaning/brightening, do I need to restart any steps or just let the deck dry thoroughly before moving on to staining?

sunrat39
sunrat39(@sunrat39)
1 year ago
Reply to  LP Gagnon

How did everything turn out following these steps?

Derek Bowes
Derek Bowes
1 year ago

Our deck is 5 years old and was never maintained. We sanded with 40 and went over with 80 not realizing we should have cleaned first. Do we still need to clean?

Also the vertical skirts were not sanded. Can we get away without sanding them?

Tom
Tom
1 year ago

I have two questions.

First, I’m from Canada and our temperatures are very cold in winter ( with plenty of snow). My deck is exposed to all the elements. Does it help preserve the finish / stain to tarp the deck for the winter.

Second, my deck is cedar and only a few years old. I need to sand it because I was too aggressive with a power washer. Do you recommend a grit to avoid over sanding

Thanks

Tina
Tina
2 years ago

Hi we have cedar deck live in Midwest. We have stripped and sanded old stain of 3 years. I know the next step would be brighten and stain. This is covered porch steps are out in open. Now running into fall worried about leaves falling and staining. Should we wait until spring to stain (I know will have to clean and brighten before stain. ) Or should we give one coat now second light coat in spring. If so can we use cleaner on again for leaf stains before second coat. Going to be using twp 1500 Thanks

Tina
Tina
2 years ago

Thanks for you quick response, when we lightly wash it next year what should we use to wash it with thanks

Tina
Tina
2 years ago

Hi thanks for response, if we lightly wash next year what cleaner do we wash with and do we just use hose or power washer thank you

Urvil
Urvil
2 years ago

How long after brightening should you wait to stain?

Melanie
Melanie
3 years ago

Don’t have time to order Cleaner and Brightener. My husband is almost done with the sanding. We got Restore a deck stain. Should have ordered the cleaner and brightener. Is there anything I can get at Lowe’s or Home Depot that will do the trick. I live in the Seattle area

Sally
Sally
2 years ago

How is it the big box stores have nothing decent? Thompson’s and Cabot’s get high reviews and local contractors suggest them. All the people I know use their products, what’s wrong with them?
I’m new to deck maintenance and am reading a lot trying to decide what’s best do.

Mick
Mick
3 years ago

Had to replace 3 redwood deck boards. Sanded them. Can’t wait for them to age. Any suggestions? Should I just put one coat of Defy Extreme stain on the new redwood boards or go ahead and put two coats on? The deck is 5 years old and I have sanded it down completely and will put Defy Wood Cleaner followed by Defy Wood Brightener. How many coats on the 3 new boards. Thanks for all your info. It is very helpful.

Benjamin Hammar
Benjamin Hammar
3 years ago

Is it a good idea to use a rotating surface cleaner attachment on my pressure washer?

Paul
Paul
3 years ago

Hey there – My wife and I purchased a home last year and it looks like the owners just slapped on a coat of Arborcoat without prepping the deck. As you can imagine, there are spots of the deck where I can literally peel off 4 ft pieces of paint. How should I go about stripping this and what product would you recommend I put down after? FYI I think the deck is quite old based on the look of the wood underneath. Thanks!

Alison Cartwright
Alison Cartwright
3 years ago

Hi! I am a little confused. I bought the RAD cleaner/brightener kit for my old weathered deck. Do I pressure wash, then sand, then use the RAD? Or, do I sand, then apply the cleaner, then pressure wash it off? Or must I pressure wash twice?

Carol
Carol
3 years ago

Hello! I stripped my cedar deck and now have been sanding it but started with 120 grit before I saw your article. I am continuing with 80 grit now. Should I quickly revisit the areas that had the 120 so things are even? Or just leave it and continue with the 80? Thanks!

James Barber
James Barber
3 years ago

Hi! I’ve read several places that say to sand right before staining, and that if it rains after you sand, you need to restart. Is that really true? I’ve power washed my deck, and I’m trying to decide if I should sand next, then clean/brighten…or the reverse. Great site BTW!

James Barber
James Barber
3 years ago

Awesome, thanks!

Matt
Matt
3 years ago

“Help” I sanded my cedar deck but I’m still seeing some grey spots it seems impossible to sand out. Also it is going to rain tomorrow should I wait to put the Gemini cleaner and brighter until after it rains? See pictures below

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Matt
Matt
3 years ago

Got it all off thanks. And as for the Gemini cleaner and brightner would you put it on now or the day after it rains?

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Matt
Matt
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt

Ok thanks got it it all off! Would you recommend the Gemini cleaner and brighter now or after it rain?

Matt
Matt
3 years ago

Gemini cleaner and bringhter process done. It’s going to rain tomorrow how long should I wait before staining with twp 100

Matt
Matt
3 years ago

I never got a chance to put the Gemini cleaner and brightner on my Sanded cedar deck before it started to rain is it ok to put it on when it stops raining? I hope it didn’t ruin all my prep work

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