Deck refinishing is something many homeowners have to consider at one time or another. Whether it’s an aging deck you inherited when the property was purchase, or a deck you installed yourself in recent years, refinishing is a way to revive the deck’s appearance and protect it against the elements.
If your deck is made of composite materials, your maintenance requirements will be much lighter. But if your deck is made of natural wood (including pressure treated wood), refinishing will be a periodic concern — especially if you live in a state with harsh winters and large temperature swings between the seasons.
So what is refinishing?
That depends on who’s doing it, and how knowledgable they are. A seasoned deck refinishing pro will likely include the following steps in the refinishing process:
- Clean the entire deck with a low pressure spray
- Replace any boards/components that are warped or rotting
- Repair any loose connections between components of the deck
- Smooth out rough spots and sharp edges with careful sanding techniques
- Apply two coats of high quality coating
Now that we have a basic snapshot of a professional refinishing process, we can see the mistakes people commonly make.
- Too much coating
People who do their own deck refinishing often hold the mistaken belief that more coating or stain is always better. Some homeowners even apply three or four coats of stain, ignoring the manufacturer’s instruction. This is problematic because the extra stain doesn’t really soak in to the wood fiber. Instead, it begins to peel and flake as the days and weeks go by. Applying the right amount of coating is not as easy as it sounds. But when it doubt, it’s best to stick with the instructions of the manufacturer who made the coating.
- Using wood that isn’t dry
PT lumber is a hugely popular option for deck refinishing, but people sometimes forget that the wood is treated with solutions that can leave moisture in the wood. Fortunately, you can check the moisture levels in the wood by using a moisture meter specifically designed for this.
This isn’t just problem for new decks. The refinishing process also involves moisture, and if the pressure is too high, the wood fibers can become saturated with moisture. Applying the stain too soon after a high-pressure wash can result in moisture that’s been trapped into the deck by the application of coating. This can lead to all sorts of structural and aesthetic problems in the near future. How can you avoid this mistake? Use a low-pressure spray for cleaning, or hire a company who knows this process inside and out. If you use a high pressure wash, make sure the deck has ample time to dry out before you apply stain.
- Hiring a deck specialist who isn’t qualified
While there are many reputable deck specialists who know their stuff, the unfortunate truth is that there are others who are less scrupulous. If you’re looking to take the pressure off and delegate your deck refinishing project to a professional who guarantees the finest results, make sure you find someone with plenty of experience and positive feedback online.
Avoiding common deck refinishing mistakes
Refinishing your deck can be a rewarding DIY project, but there are many common pitfalls. Even if you hire a specialist, there’s a chance something could go wrong. By learning from the mistakes homeowners commonly make, you’ll set yourself up for a successful deck refinishing project.