Applying Finish to a Deck

Clean and refinish your deck.

Applying a Finish

Home centers offer a wide array of deck cleaners, sealers, and finishes. Check with deck owners in your area to see which products work best and how often they need to be applied. If the deck is exposed to hot sun for extended periods, you may need to apply a fresh coat of sealer every year.

A deck that has turned gray can usually be made to look like new if you wash it and apply a finish. Even grayish-green pressure-treated wood can be stained to resemble cedar or redwood.

It may be worth the cost to hire a professional to finish or refinish your deck. Look through your phone directory for companies that restore, finish, and maintain a deck's appearance. Check out their prices and examine some of the decks they have worked on. Compare the cost with the time and expense it will take you to do it yourself.

Checklist

Time
Several hours to clean one day; several hours to apply a finish the next day

Tools
Scrub brush, power washer, pole sander, pump sprayer or paint roller, paintbrushes

Skills
Attention to detail, applying a smooth coat of finish

Prep
Consult with a supplier to find the best products for your wood and your climate

Materials
Deck cleaner, deck sealer and/or finish

Download a version of the chart, above left

Step 1

Lightly sand the deck using a pole sander, then sweep the deck thoroughly. Mix a batch of deck cleaner according to manufacturer's directions, apply it, and scrub with a stiff brush.

Step 2

Use a garden hose or power washer to rinse the cleaner completely from the deck. If you use a power washer, use the fan or 40-degree nozzle. Be careful not to hold the nozzle too close to the wood; the pressure spray can damage the surface.

Step 3

Allow the deck to dry completely. Use a pump sprayer to spread sealer/stain onto the deck. Cover a strip about 3 feet wide -- an easy reach for brushing.

Step 4

Immediately brush the surface with a 5- to 6-inch-wide paintbrush so there will be no puddles. Move the brush in one direction only, always with the grain.

Step 5

For detail work, use a smaller brush. Pay attention to the edges of boards, so you don't end up with brush strokes that run across the grain.

Apply with a Roller

You can apply sealer with a paint roller instead of a pump sprayer. Work carefully to avoid blobs and streaks. Brush the wood within a couple of minutes of rolling on the sealer.


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