What are the steps to re-coating my deck?

Summertime is about barbeque parties and spending time with friends and family out on the deck. But if your deck is a few years old and it’s been awhile since your last maintenance, it might be looking a little – well, sad. Between the cracks, chips and faded colouring your deck just isn’t the pride and joy that it used to be.

Well fear not, because as long as there is no serious damage, it is possible to make that old deck like new again.

The first step to re-coating a deck is to scrape off the old finish with. In most cases the old finish will flake off fairly easily. Whatever does not come off with the scraper will be removed by the deck stripper. Once you have scrapped off as much of the old finish as you can, inspect the wood to make sure that nothing is rotten. Do not waste your time trying to clean or refinish anything that is rotten. Rotten wood needs to be replaced before you proceed with the rest of the job.

If there is nothing in need of repair, it is time to start using the deck stripper and deck cleaner.

The deck stripper is used first to remove any old finish that could not be flaked off with your paint scraper. And the cleaner is then used to ensure that you are working with a clean surface before applying new finish.

There are two main types of deck cleaners. One type made either from powdered hydrogen peroxide or liquid oxalic acid is for removing dead wood fibres from the boards. The other type is bleach based and used for removing mildew.

When using cleaners, be sure to cover surrounding plants in order to protect them. Also remember to wear protective clothing yourself such as safety glasses, rubber boots, gloves and long sleeves to protect your eyes and skin from any spattering stripper or cleaner.

The best time for stripping and cleaning is on cool overcast days. The reason for this is twofold. First of all, refinishing a deck is hard work meaning the hotter and stickier it is outside, the less comfortable you are going to be. Secondly, cleaners evaporate more quickly on hot days meaning you will have to use more and it will take longer.

When stripping, it is a good idea to work in small – about 6 foot – areas at a time. Doing so will make it easier to keep the area wet so the stripper won’t evaporate before you can finish scraping and cleaning it. You will have to take extra care when refinishing vertical surfaces such as railings, as the stripper will run down the side.The stripper should be in contact with the wood surface for about fifteen minutes before you remove it.

Your deck should be allowed to dry for a couple of days before sealer or stain is applied.

A semitransparent oil stain is the most recommended for railings because solid colour stains are heavily pigmented, making your next refinishing job more difficult. Stain is not recommended on deck boards because it will show wear more quickly.

Finally, with your like-new deck there is nothing to do but show off to your neighbours, invite your friends over for some summer beverages and enjoy your beautiful deck.