Prepare your deck for patio season
Is your deck in rough shape? Not to worry, these handy tips will have you lounging outdoors in no time
Sanding, washing and sealing
Sanding is a job best saved for fall, but if you’re in the mood for a total makeover–or if you’re dealing with lots of peeling paint–there’s no time like the present to sand and seal.
Random orbit sanders make quick work of large surfaces such as decks. (If you don’t own one, most hardware stores will rent you one.) Equip the sander with 80-grit sandpaper and smooth the surface till you reach new wood, or at least as new as you can get.
Once the wood is sanded smooth and most of the cracks and splinters are gone, it’s time to protect the wood using a sealer. When purchasing a sealer, look for keywords that go beyond “exterior durability”; decks need more than an ordinary external finish. If your boards have large cracks (the width of cardboard) then your finishing options are limited. A foam finish that would last three years on smooth boards would start peeling in less than 18 months because water would get underneath. In cases like this, consider a soak-in, semi-transparent stain.
If you’re faced with peeling paint, remove as much as possible before sanding. But, before you seal, sand or paint, you should wash the deck using a power washer. Keep the tip four to six inches away from the deck´s surface and use less than 1000 psi (pounds per square inch). Too close with too much pressure and you could damage the wood. Use short, sweeping motions and move smoothly across the surface to get a consistently cleaned surface.
Because I’m somewhat anal about my deck, this year’s spring cleanup only required a quick power washing followed by some screw tightening. I will reseal the wood come fall, but in the meantime, there’s too much warm weather to contend with. Besides, I’ve got that drink to finish.