The first thing that you should do is learn all you can about the refinishing process even if you plan to have someone help you with the project. If you’ve decided to do this, then you must take as much time as necessary to prepare the wood to accept new stain and/or sealant. If you think that this is too much work to take on every year or two, you may find yourself disappointed with the condition of your wood before too many years have passed.
These will be the two key factors that you’ll have to deal with when you allow the wood to be used over a period of years without proper attention. Sealing and staining correctly can help keep the surface from deteriorating, while basic repairs made before refinishing will ensure that your deck is functional and comfortable. The bottom line is this: You can prevent most of the cracking and splintering when you take the time to refinish on a consistent basis.
How do you begin? By making sure that the wood surface is thoroughly cleaned. This is one part of a painting or staining project that many non-professionals skip altogether or spend far too little time on. Different woods and original finishes respond in different ways to the cleaning process so you should consult with a professional at your paint or hardware store to discuss the type of stain and sealant first used. They will make recommendations adhering to manufacturer’s standards and guidelines to help you get the job done correctly.
You might need to manually scrub the surface, use a pressure washer, or even strip the original stain or sealant. If you want to use the gentlest method, you can use a push broom with stiff bristles and a suitable outdoor cleaner. Once you’ve finished the cleaning process, make sure that all residue and moisture is removed. This is more than important. It’s essential. If you decide to use a pressure washer, which is the most efficient method for larger decks, you should again make sure that all moisture and residue is removed.
You can use this process for spot treatment, especially when you need to remove unsightly old stain. These areas will usually be in areas where there is light foot traffic as well as on hand railings. If you use a power-wash method, don’t get the head of the nozzle too close to the wood. This will help you avoid damaging the surface.
At this point, you should read the stain and sealant manufacturer’s guidelines for application and follow them to the letter. You may be able to use a roller with some products while you’ll have to use a brush or special pad for others. The key: Don’t cut corners. Take your time.