This post was updated on January 14, 2022
Why Sanding a Deck Can be an Issue
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Sanding your deck can reduce stain penetration
One of the most frustrating problems that can crop up when you decide to stain or restain your deck is that the stain doesn’t absorb into the wood correctly.
There are a number of different reasons this can happen but one of the more common issues is that the boards were not correctly sanded or prepared for the task. Today we will examine the main causes behind poor absorption and explore some of the measures you can take to negate this issue in the future.
Often, we don’t invest much thought into the sanding process and just get on with it without careful planning. This is where your difficulties will arise.
When sanding any type of wood to prepare for a new coat of stain, you have to be ultra-careful with how much you sand the wood and the level of sandpaper grit you use. Anything more than around 60/80 grit is too much and will leave the wood overly smooth. This essentially means the pores are too small to absorb the stain or gloss correctly and it will take more hard work to finally prepare the wood for absorption.
A good wood stain finish always starts with the correct sanding preparation. It is important, to begin with, a power sander and always finish by hand to reach difficult areas. Remember no more than 60 or 80 grit paper.
The next step is to clean the wood thoroughly after the sanding. Deck cleaners, also known as deck wash are used to lift dirt and unsightly mildew which accumulates over time.
Most deck cleaners contain soaps to help them clean effectively. The downside to the soap is that raises the PH level of the wood. This can make the wood appear darker in color, and the higher PH balance also makes it more difficult for the stain to penetrate.
The way to reverse this after using a deck cleaner is to apply a wood brightener. A wood brightener contains a mild acid formula that will neutralize the higher PH balance caused by caustic soaps. The effect is that the wood’s PH balance is restored and the wood is brightened back to its natural color. This will ensure that your wood looks natural and will shine through as it should after the stain is applied.
All that’s left for you to do now is stain the wood. If you are having trouble with stain penetration then follow the steps we have outlined in this guide – over sanding does not have to be the end of the world. Simply sand the wood again and make sure to properly clean and brighten it before reapplication of your stain.