Q&A of the Week: “How Should I Re-Strip a Deck for Refinishing?”

Q: What’s the best way to strip back to bare wood on a deck that I started to finish with a stain that I don’t like? I’ve covered two-thirds of the deck, but the opaque results are not what I want. I’m disappointed that I wasted all this time, but I’d be more disappointed if I complete the job using this stuff.

A: It’s often best to go all the way back to square-one when you run into problems like yours. Use a roller and brush to spread a water soluble deck stripper, let it sit for a while until the finish is soft, then pressure wash the goo off. There are lots of deck strippers like this on the market, and many work well.

Let the deck dry for a couple of good days, then sand the surface with an 80-grit abrasive in a random orbit sander. This will get you back to a good, solid start. As for what to apply afterwards, it’s easy to go wrong. There are many deck products on the market that don’t work well no matter how well you prep the surface. I have several favourites based on my long-term tests I’ve run since 1990. Different options make sense depending on the look you want and the level of maintenance you’re willing to take on. Click here for a VERY complete guide to finishing wooden decks the right way, using durable deck stains. It’s easy to go wrong with this (I know because I hear from disappointed homeowners all the time). Check out this article and save yourself from grief.