Deck RE-staining

Removing old stain, sanding and staining a deck in Highlands Neighborhood, Lincoln, NE

Here is an example of the most common procedure - re-staining.

This deck's previous finish was a semi-transparent oil, which wore out over the years. The owners wanted to re-stain it with the same type of finish, making sure that the wood grains were visible, though slightly altering the color.

Let's take a look...

Inspecting a deck in preparation for staining.

Upon initial inspection, it is obvious that all of the wood is in good shape. There is no dry rot or other signs of deterioration. The old stain is noticeably worn off the decking, but the spindles are still showing quite a bit of color. This means that stain remover and an aggressive power-washing will have to be employed to take the old stain off completely.

Inspecting decking boards on a deck in preparation for staining.

There are some scratches on the steps and decking left by the owners' pets that will need to be smoothed out a bit.

Inspecting staircase and railings on a deck in preparation for staining.

Fast forward...

After the application of a stain remover, power-washing, and a sufficient drying time, the wood looks like this -

Raised wood grains on spindles after pressure washing.

I have to say that this kind of grain-raising does not happen often. Softer woods are more prone to this effect. (Update: Soon after the completion of this project I adjusted the stain removing method to greatly minimize this kind of grain-raising.)

Raised wood fibers after pressure washing.

So, now it's time for my "fab four" to take the stage -

Selection of electric sanders for sanding a deck.

While most of the sanding is done with the heavy-duty orbitals and a pad, a detail sander sits "right in the pocket" when it comes to corners -

Sanding railings on a deck in preparation for staining.

and in between spindles, where the other machines do not reach -

Sanding railings on a deck in preparation for staining - alt view.

Once all of the sanding is completed and the dust is blown off, It's time to get ready for staining.

Logically, I would start with the handrails, but first, it is important to prevent drips (or over-spray) from hitting the decking, because they will most definitely show through the top coat. I prefer to run a strip of paper along the handrails. But a cardboard shield, a tarp or a piece of heavy non-mar rubber (on a windy day) would work just fine.

Setting up for staining railings on a deck.

For oil-based stains I prefer natural ox / white china bristle brushes -

Selection of brushes for staining a deck with an oil stain.

As always, I make sure that the stain is being worked into the grain, and as importantly, between boards.

Staining decking boards with a brush.

One generous coat is all it takes to make the deck look like this -

Semi-transparent oil stain on a deck in Lincoln.

Notice how this stain brings out the wood grains. They are apparent even from some distance -

Stained staircase and railings in Lincoln, NE

After a final touch-up, the deck is transferred back into the owners' possession -

Newly stained deck in Lincoln, NE

Lincoln, NE | April 2012