Why Sanding a Deck Can be an Issue 4.7/5 (21)

by Deck Stain Help
Sanding A Wood Deck

Sanding A Wood Deck

Update for 2019: Why Sanding a Deck Can be an Issue

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 2019. See below for an article about Why Sanding a Deck Can be an Issue.

Feel free to leave a comment or ask questions below.


Why 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.

The problem

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.

The solution

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 which 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.

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Gary
Gary

I need to remove a solid stain same process I assume 60 grit on my belt sander. Im in a dry climate 5000 ft in Colorado… no mold or power washing needed on my practice spot. I dont believe it will need it. Also building an enclosed patio for jacuzzi have good cross ventelation and fans and plants to pull humidity down…recommendations for interior decking and wall material poly over cedar ?? PAINTING the ceiling too outdoor water resistant paint heavy coats? Thanks good video.

Toni
Toni

It’s me again😄 I stripped and brightened my cedar deck. It is drying now. Some places on some of the boards are fuzzy. Can I just spot sand with some 60 sand paper or must I sand the whole thing? If I can spot sand, would I need to brighten again?

Mike O
Mike O

I installed a new 10×12 deck about a month ago. Does it need to be sanded? I can’t find anything that said otherwise. Other than preservation of the wood, I’m also concerned about areas where someone can accidentally stab themselves with a piece of wood from a board. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I am totally new to this.

Ken
Ken

Thank you for all the suggestions and help. I’m just getting confused based on different comments if I should or should not sand my deck prior to it’s first staining?

It is a new cedar deck that was installed 3+ months ago. I plan on using RAD and will be prepping with their cleaner and brightener.

Thank you for your help!

Tony
Tony

Just finishing up sanding my cedar deck, and have purchased the RAD cleaner, brightener, and stain. However, the weather has turned cold and rainy much earlier than usual. Is it better try try to sneak in the staining on a dry day or wait until the Spring?

You talk about letting a new deck “season”, is that the case with a sanded deck as well? Would this be another reason to push of staining until the Spring?

lou
lou

My deck was stained about 3 years ago with a Behr semi-transparent. I have sanded all the railings and spindles down to the bare wood. Next I will strip, sand and brighten the floor. Being that everything will be down to bare wood, should I use one or two coats of Defy semi-transparent stain? Also, do I need to apply brightener to railings and spindles?

Tracy
Tracy

I’ve read great care should be taken to prevent SANDED wood from moisture prior to stain application. Articles site moisture shrinks and/or closes pores and will require re-sanding to re-open pores. However, this article suggests brightening AFTER staining. Shouldn’t pores be open wide after sanding already? If a brightener is necessary, wouldn’t it be better timed BEFORE sanding and allow the 60-80 grit sanding process to open pores?

Tracy
Tracy

Sorry, I misstated in my earlier question. This article suggests brightening AFTER sanding.

Amber R
Amber R

Running out of steam. Do I pay a pro the $525 he wants to sand this or rent a sander and what should I rent? This is three layers of semi solid.

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Tony Overstake
Tony Overstake

Have a 4 yr old cedar deck that I previously stained with Behr Premium 3 times. As you say, the stuff is terrible and has peeled more and more each year. I’m done with the Behr and am planning on starting over. I’m not a fan of chemicals so was planning on sanding. Do I need to use a cleaner after sanding? Can I just pressure wash and stain?

You seem to recommend the Defy and Restore-A-Deck, would you prefer either for a cedar deck that gets a lot of shade in the rainy climate of Eugene, OR? When I do stain do I need to worry much about night time condensation effecting how the stain takes? It has started to get colder with more dew over night as we move into the fall. Thanks for the advice

Brad
Brad

I have a 4 year old cedar deck never stained before and I pressure washed and used a cleaner/brightener and pressure washed again. Do I really need to sand it down. Looks in good condition?

Gloria Carlson
Gloria Carlson

I powerwashed newer deck (2 years old cedar) with brightener/cleaner. Has never been touched with anything, is nice and clean and smooth. Do I really need to sand and clean again before applying semi-transparent stain?

Jerry
Jerry

Any tips on how to remove screws that are exposed above the deck surface prior to sanding?

skip
skip

I see some stains that are oil acrylic, that seems to be an oxymoron, I believe it was floods and pittsburg stains, is that any good

Arjuna
Arjuna

I have just finished sanding my deck awaiting delivery of my TWP stain and I want to prep it. My deck is only a year old down to the natural cedar wood with no dirt, no gray, and no mold. Can I skip the cleaning step (since it seems to be primarily “used to lift dirt and unsightly mildew which accumulates over time”) and go right to the wood brightener step? Or do you still recommend cleaning with a deck cleaner and why is this still important? Thank you for your time and experience

Greg
Greg

I am planning on re-staining a wood stairway, last stained 4 years ago. It’s a grey color today. I am planning to power wash and, once dry, sand. Do I follow the clean and brighten process you recommend? Also, is there a particular type of stain I need for the stairs vs. a deck?

Thank you!

Jake
Jake

what type of sanders make quick work? Orbital, belt or sheet sander? Or are they all about the same…? I would like to try the big drum floor sanders but wood planks tend to “warp” a bit where the edges raise up slightly so I feel a big drum sander would just sand the edges of the planks? Is that true?

Thanks!

Manny
Manny

I am about to *replace* my deck with brand new PT 5/4 x 6 deck boards. I am currently drying them right now in my lanai. In the past I have never bother to sand before staining but always wondered if I can get a better long lasting look if I did.

1. I was told that if I sand that I would remove some of the PT protective properties of the wood. True? I would think not since the chemical would have penetrated deeper than just the top layers. Just wanted to confirm.

2. Will sanding with 60/80 grit sandpaper *enhance* stain absorption vs non-sanding — or does it make no difference?

DL Egan
DL Egan

We have an old deck that we stripped before sanding as the old oil based previous stain kept clogging the sand paper. after stripping, brightening and power washing we sanded the entire deck. Wood now looks very good. We plan on lightly power washing before applying Armstrong semi transparent stain but should we use a cleaner & brighter on the deck as well as power washing?

Matt
Matt

I plan to re-stain the siding on my house. The siding dates to 2012 and was originally stained with a cape code grey semi-transparent, and later a clear coat of some kind was put over that without any prep work at all.

Needless to say, it looks terrible. So I plan to go down to bare wood before applying a new stain.

The wood is weathered and existing stain, as it is, is peeling, cracking and in tiny little grooves in the wood.

I’m going to use a mechanical sander and 60 grit paper. My question is – should I use a stripper before sanding to try and get the old stain out of deep grooves? Or, once the wood has been reasonably sanded down, should I apply a stripper then?

Once the wood is bare, do I still need to apply a deck cleaner and wood brightener? Or can I just apply the stain to the bare untreated wood?

Kim
Kim

I hired someone to re-stain my 15 year old front porch (it’s very large, covered, and does not receive much direct sun). He used Cabot oil based semi-solid stain. I don’t really like the look of the semi-solid stain and I hate the color. I’ve since learned that this type of stain can only be removed by power sanding it. Ideally I’d like semi-transparent, but sanding everything down is not something I want to do or can afford to have someone do right now. So I’ve accepted that I have to stick with the semi-solid stain. I was planning on using Sherwin Williams stain because I’ve always been told they are good, but after reading everything on this site I am second guessing that decision. I guess my main question is, what would be the best product to use on top of the cabot oil based semi-solid stain? Does whatever I use need to be oil based or water based? Thank you!

Trudy Schrater
Trudy Schrater

I have a pine deck about 250 square feet including stairs. It has been stained 6 years ago with SW solid stain. I want to re-stain the deck, stairs, and only the top of the railings (rest of railing’s stain is intact) in the same SW solid stain color. Some of the boards are unstained. I stripped the deck, stairs, and top railings with Behr stripper and only a small amount of stain came off. Is there a better stripper to get off the stain or should I just sand? If I do sand what kind of sander should I use? Do I just need to sand only the boards with the stain or all the boards? I know I need to use a cleaner after I sand, but do I need to brighten, since I am re-staining in the same solid color?

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Taher Hadouej
Taher Hadouej

When you say it should not be more than 60 to 80 grit, you mean it should not be too coarse or it should not be too fine grit ? is 40 grit ok ?

Cindy
Cindy

I used Behr semi-transparent deck and siding stain in 2014. I sanded with a floor sander, then used a brightner. The decks came out awesome. But four years later, they are starting to peel about 25 oercent on one deck and 50 percent on the other. The rest of it is in tact, but faded. I pressure washed this weekend and didnt phaze what was not peeling, but it came clean. It is really on there in the pkaces yhat are not oeeli g. What is oeeling is like big pieces of plastic. My question is, Can I use a barrel sander and not brother stripping. I will use 60 to 80 grit. My back deck is about 25′ high and i have trees, plants, etc i do t want to harm with chemicals. Plus i dont kniw how i would keep the stripper of the siding goi g down.

Brent Geels
Brent Geels

I just installed a new cedar deck. The wood sat outside for about a month prior to getting installed and some boards got more sun exposure than others. I would like to even out the color and weathering of the boards. Can I sand the entire deck and then stain in about 2 months? Would you stain now or right before I stain?

Mick
Mick

How much time between using a deck cleaner and a deck brightener and applying Defy Extreme semi-transparent stain?

myjoyous3
myjoyous3

how to strip off the horrible Deck Restore

Leo Kessler
Leo Kessler

I am preparing to re-stain my deck.
Some background 2 years ago I applied TWP 1500
The deck is in good shape and I am planning on using the restore a deck cleaner and brightener
My questions are:
1) Do I need to sand the deck first before cleaning
2) Is it necessary to use a pressure washer?
3) I have a 3000 PSI 2.5 GPM pressure washer. What is your recommended distance to hold the nozzle from the surface assuming a 45 degree nozzle; or is the 3000 PSI just to much?

Thanks for the help and your reviews are outstanding!

Leo