Description: The article provides step-by-step guidance to sanding wooden decks starting with preparation, the examination of the deck, repairing, and finally sanding wood to ensure that the deck is smooth and ready to be sealed and stained.

Wooden structures require maintenance. There’s a lot of hype surrounding certain types of wood that don’t require much maintenance. However, you are going to need maintenance now and then unless you are Okay with the natural gray that most types of wood turn into overtime. Therefore, structures like decks, fences, and sheds need time and effort if you want them to last and look their best.

You may have a wealth of experience with wood decks, or you may have learned how to make a deck by referring to a DIY crafts resource such as books and articles online. However, the challenges of refinishing a wooden deck are uniform to all, and these sanding tips will take you a step further towards achieving that goal.

Timing of Refinishing a Wooden Deck

You can expect your deck to show signs of wear to let you know that it’s time for some washing and refinishing. When a deck starts to flake with the surface turning into a grayish color, it’s time for you to set aside a sunny weekend to get the job done. The amount of work that might require depends on the type of finish you used on the deck, and the time that passed since the last time you refinished and sanded it.

Most transparent finishes should give you around two years. Semi-transparent finishes usually contain a stain that blocks ultraviolet rays. Therefore, they won’t need refinishing for four to five years. Furthermore, the more frequently you maintain a wood deck, the more longevity you will be able to enjoy.

Refinishing a wooden deck starts with power washing. You will see that the wooden deck’s power washing results in the expansion of wood fibers with water. It may result in the appearance of splinters too. Therefore, it is a must to smoothen the surface while removing old material by sanding wood before you recoat a wood deck.

Tools for Sanding Wood

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the number of available options out there when it comes to sanding wood. These vary from commercial upright sanders to everyday orbital sanders. The trick is to use any tool correctly with the wood texture and state of your deck in mind.

Best Random Orbital Sanders:

Since this article is intended to provide sanding tips to homeowners who build and maintain their wooden decks, we will focus on conventional power sanders such as palm sanders, belt sanders, and sanding sponges.

These tools, compared to more powerful options, require some patience, time, and in most cases, plenty of elbow grease. Most wooden decks are built using softwood types. Power tools that have a rougher grit can gouge the wood and damage it. Therefore, you will be better off with orbital or oscillating sanders when sanding wooden decks.

It is also essential to wear protective gear such as safety masks, glasses, and hearing protectors while sanding. Furthermore, the deck needs to be fully dry before you get started. Now that you are good to go, get those speakers out, grab a few beers, and get started.

Inspect and Repair

Here’s what you need to know about sanding wood. It is crucial to examine your deck before you start working with sanders. Look for raised or loose nails, splinters, deep gouges, and damaged, curled lifted boards. Use three-inch decking screws to replace loose and raised nails half an inch away from the original nail holes. Nails need to be a quarter of an inch below the top surface. Replace damaged boards and patch up holes with epoxy wood filler.

Your wood deck needs to be completely dry before you start sanding. If it was exposed to rain, you would need to wait a few days before you start the sanding work. Furthermore, you need to ensure that any fillers you used are also dry. Finally, clean the dry deck with a broom to remove all the debris.

Sanding The Wood Deck

You may wonder how much sanding before painting wood is required. Your goal should end up with the smoothest surface without damaging the wood. However, it would help if you stuck to sandpapers with lighter grits such as 60 or 80. Start with a belt sander with the more massive belt (60 or 50) followed by a palm sander to reach the areas that the belt sander wasn’t able to reach. Then use a sanding sponge to smoothen the areas that previous tools couldn’t.

Once you are done, repeat the process with the lighter grit, which is 80. Make sure that the surface is even as you go. Remember not to go for finer grits since they close down pores which will decrease the wood’s ability to absorb sealer and stain. Now your deck should be ready for sealing and staining. Vacuum the wood deck to move on to the next step.


Sanding wood, primarily wooden decks can be a tiring process. It is essential to make sure that you cover all the areas while repairing any damages so that your deck will look its best for the longest time possible. Furthermore, it is essential to start sealing and staining with your preferred choice of UV-blocking varnish, transparent, or semi-transparent stain.

It is essential to time the sanding of the wooden deck to make sure that the deck isn’t exposed to rain while you are in the middle of sanding it or before it is stained and sealed after sanding. If you follow these sanding tips, you should have an almost finished deck.

Did you find these sanding wood tips useful? Do you have any helpful ideas to add? Let us know what you think by commenting below.

Author’s Bio: Rae has a passion for woodwork in general. She has worked on a few wood decks in her life, belonging to her brother as well as his friends. She spends a lot of time working with wood while sharing her experiences with other woodwork and DIY crafts enthusiasts.

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