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Here’s How to Clean and Re-Stain A Wood Deck

There are a few key precautions one must take while re-staining a wood deck to ensure the finish performs at its bests. To begin with, any existing finish must be removed entirely to apply a new product. If any of the old finish remains the bond between the new finish and the wood may be compromised. Any short cuts at this stage will resurface later on so double check to make sure all of the existing finish has been removed.

Look at the Design

Check the design of the deck for good airflow, position the eaves and sprinklers to minimize excess moisture. Ground moisture should be kept at a minimum and debris in the spacing between planks should be cleaned out to allow the structure to breathe better. After a careful inspection, replace any deficient or rotten boards. At this time a product should be selected for use so that the surface preparation can be done in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Carefully choose a product and colour that is best for your needs, finishes have different strengths and weaknesses so talk to an expert to help make an informed decision. Also, note that colour changes from one wood species to the other and regardless of quality of product or application all colours fade over time without proper maintenance.

Prepare the Surfaces

Untreated wood should always be sanded well, if treated wood is being finished, it must be washed thoroughly to make sure all contaminants have been removed. Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to sand pressure treated lumber. The new finish should penetrate, so choose sanding equipment carefully, a course grit sandpaper around 40-60 grit will open up the pores of the wood and allow the finish to properly soak in. The surface preparation and the first coat should be coordinated to be completed in same weekend or as close together as possible. If sanding is done too far in advance, the wood will not absorb the finish properly.


The weather during application also matters, most finishes should not be applied in direct sunlight; however, the manufacturer’s instructions should always be followed for best results. As a general rule, if the wood feels warm to the touch than it needs to cool off before stain can be applied. Excess heat can prevent the stain from properly penetrating into the wood and can also cause lap marks and inconsistent colouration. Typically the wood should not be exposed to rainfall for at least 24 hours after the stain has been applied.

Having the right tools will make any job easier, faster and leave a better finish. A jumbo brush that can hold more product is ideal for penetrating stains that require heavy ‘flood’ coats and handle extensions make the job a lot more comfortable and make hard to reach area’s more accessible. When using a penetrating stain, apply finish to the point of refusal (i.e. when the wood cannot absorb any more product). A common garden sprayer can be used to spray on a finish; always remember to back brush any excess product to ensure a fantastic finish. Vertical surfaces should be stained from the bottom up. While staining deck boards it can be easier to only work on a few boards at a time to help avoid lap marks. Be careful not to leave any runs or puddles behind and keep a wet edge at all times.

Maintenance Matters

Apply a maintenance coat as needed to keep the deck looking great for many more years. Decks that are exposed to a lot of sun, precipitation or foot traffic will require maintenance coats more often. Gently wash the wood, sand it lightly if needed and apply your maintenance coat  as per the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Contact The Experts

Monaghan Lumber Specialties is a family-owned and operated business that has provided superior expertise and quality products for home, cottage and commercial projects in Peterborough for 30 years. For more information on how we can help you, contact us  today.