Sanding a wood deck is a
laborious and time consuming project, even with the right power tools.
Initially I contemplated using a pole sander of some sort to remove the old
deck sealer. However after a few phone calls and a visit to a home
improvement center I quickly learned that I needed to use a floor sander.
|The particular floor sander that I wound up renting was
a large and extremely heavy orbital sander. It had a surface area of
12"x18" and had a long arm handle that you used to control it. The
sander came with a box of assorted sandpaper with different grit levels.
The levels varied from 36 to 100. After experimenting with the finer
grit sandpapers, I found that the 36 grit sandpaper, the coarsest
sandpaper I was provided with, was the most appropriate for sanding a
To be honest, even coarser
sandpaper such as 20 grit would have been more preferred, however the
particular home improvement store that I rented the orbital floor sander
from did not have any. Note that if you use one of these types of floor
sanders on interior hardwood floors you will certainly want to use a finer
grit sandpaper than 36 grit.
Prior to sanding the wood
deck I first swept it and then applied a deck cleaner solution. The deck
cleaner solution removed the mold and mildew that had collected on the
deck, however it really faded the deck out to almost a white color. In
addition, I also checked the deck for any popped nails. It is absolutely
imperative to make sure that all of the nails or screws are countersunk
into the wood deck before using a floor sander on it.
If you do not countersink the
nails/screws you will spend a fortune on sandpaper, possibly damage the
floor sander and will not be able to properly sand the deck.
After the deck was thoroughly
dry, I rented the orbital floor sander and began the painstakingly slow task
of sanding the deck. To be honest, it only took a day to sand the entire
deck. However, I ran the sander for about 8 solid hours to restore about 700
square feet of deck surface.
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How to Use a
Using an orbital floor sander is
very straight forward. First place the sandpaper itself onto the floor. Make
sure the grit side of the sand paper is placed onto the deck surface.
Then place a 1" thick nylon
matting on top of the sandpaper.
Next, tilt the floor sander back
onto its wheels and roll it up to the edge of the sandpaper/matting sandwich
Tilt the floor sander back to its
normal vertical position such that it rests on the nylon matting.
Pull the vertical locking pin and
the floor sander is ready for use.
I have one word of caution before
hitting the on switch. Wear work gloves and be prepared for the floor sander
to have a mind of its own. It is similar to walking a large dog. It takes
some energy to get the floor sander moving in the direction that you want,
and it can occasionally pull itself in a direction that you were not
planning to have it go. Simply put, watch your walls. Floor sanders can put
some rather large dents in walls if not properly controlled.
Due to the fact that the mahogany
deck boards were slightly cupped I found that I needed to apply a new sheet
of 36 grit sandpaper every 90-100 square feet of surface area.
My approach to sanding the deck
was to work in small 100 square foot areas until the deck surface was
restored to the level I was looking for. Due to the fact that the deck
boards were slightly cupped I found myself having to make numerous passes at
different angles to the deck boards to fully remove the old deck sealer. In
addition, I made frequent stops and swept the deck of loose sawdust.
Again, sanding the deck was a
slow process and required an extensive amount of strength to control the
sander. So be prepared to spend the better part of a day sanding your deck.
However the work is worth the effort. I had seriously contemplated ripping
up the mahogany decking and replacing it with composite decking. I am glad I
decided against that route. My deck looks beautiful again, and this time I
plan on sealing the deck with a mahogany colored stain that should really
allow the deck to shine.
So before you decide to toss in
the towel on your old wood deck, consider sanding it. You can save a fortune
relative to having to replace the decking, and you will be pleasantly
surprised on what’s lurking under that layer of mold, mildew and faded deck
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Deck Installation Bid Sheet.
Deck Installation Bid Sheet
will teach your how to hire the right deck contractor, and help to ensure that your
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How to Finance your Deck Project -
can help provide funds for your new home improvement project if financing is
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