Q&A OF THE WEEK: “How Can I Fix the Fuzzy Wood on My Deck?”

The wood on the top half of this photo is fuzzy from the use of a pressure washer as part of the process of stripping off old finish. The fuzziness has got to go before any kind of refinishing happens.

QUESTION: What should I do about the fuzzy surface fibers that developed on my deck? In the fall I stripped and pressure washed the wood and now it’s all fuzzy. I’m afraid that when I re-stain in the spring it will look bad. Should I be concerned?

ANSWER: You’re correct to be concerned about the fuzzy surface because it will make for a less-than-ideal finished deck. Quite a bit less than ideal. Your situation is also very common – pretty much universal, in fact, when decks are stripped and pressure washed. The good news is that the fix is fast and easy.

To remove the fuzzies, give the deck a quick sanding. That’s it. All those fuzzy fibers will simply pop off easily after one quick pass of the sander. Judging by the photo you sent me of your whole deck, the work should take less than 30 minutes. Normally I recommend a 6” random orbit sander for sanding old finishes off a deck (with an 80-grit abrasive disk on board), but for removing fuzzies, the more common 5” random orbit works fine. Just make sure the wood is completely dry before sanding. Any moisture present and the fibers won’t come off easily.

Pressure washing then sanding is actually my favourite way of preparing a deck for finishing or refinishing. The thing is, you need to be careful. Most deck stains don’t work well and fail in a year or less. Click here or below for a detailed (and I mean detailed) education on finishing a deck properly. Most people make mistakes that gets them back down on their hands and knees refinishing again too soon. Product recommendations (based on testing), plus preparation and application procedures are all here.