Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

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texasdiver
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Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by texasdiver » Sun Jun 23, 2019 5:32 pm

I have two decks that need to be refinished this summer. Both are constructed with 2x6 pressure treated deck boards that have what I think is solid-color stain that is peeling and flaking off in places and there are a few boards that are so rotted they need to be pulled out and replaced.

Just wondering whether a big belt sander or disc sander would be better for this sort of job. I have an old Porter-Cable random orbit disc sander that I use for smaller jobs. But this is a lot of square feet of deck surface to sand and I'm thinking buying a bigger belt sander will be the way to go.

Any advice?

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by Housedoc » Sun Jun 23, 2019 6:22 pm

Saw a show where they did perimeter with handheld orbital and larger area with a sander used to refinish hardwood floors. Stand up and walk unit.
I did my deck with 5 inch orbital sander last year. Kneepads are a must. Took about 6hrs using 60 grit. Finished with 2 coats SW Superdeck.

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by quantAndHold » Sun Jun 23, 2019 6:38 pm

We rented a professional floor sander when we did ours. We found out why floor guys are beefy guys, not 98 pound weaklings like us. But we got it done. If it were doing it again, I would do it the same way again. It’s a lot of sanding, and you want to do it as efficiently as possible.

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by texasdiver » Sun Jun 23, 2019 7:26 pm

Hadn't thought about renting a big commercial floor sander. I guess that's the other option. Thanks.

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by mikemikemike » Sun Jun 23, 2019 7:51 pm

Disc. \newthread

Chip
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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by Chip » Mon Jun 24, 2019 6:04 am

Agree with renting the floor sander. It's not that expensive. I've done it five times with our deck. Our 600 sq ft deck only takes 2-3 hours.

I much prefer a drum-type sander (similar to a belt sander) vs. the orbital model. I prefer to do two passes, one with 20 grit, then another with 36 grit. I've tried just one pass with one or the other but the results were unsatisfactory. The 20 grit was just too coarse and the resulting finish didn't look good. Using just 36 grit took too long and required too many sandpaper changes.

Make sure the deck is dry before sanding. If the wood is damp the sander will pull up wood fibers.

You'll need to use a hand orbital sander to get to the places the floor sander can't.

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by daheld » Mon Jun 24, 2019 7:35 am

Yes, rent a big unit that you walk behind. You can use a small, hand held orbital sander to get areas near your house and the big rental unit for large stretches--the majority of your deck. It'll make quick work of it. There are various styles. Just go to your local hardware store that rents them and ask what would work best.

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by lthenderson » Mon Jun 24, 2019 9:53 am

texasdiver wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 5:32 pm
I have two decks that need to be refinished this summer. Both are constructed with 2x6 pressure treated deck boards that have what I think is solid-color stain that is peeling and flaking off in places and there are a few boards that are so rotted they need to be pulled out and replaced.

Any advice?
Is their any particular reason you want to sand? Are you doing a drastic color change to a lighter stain? Personally I have never sanded a deck. I just power wash it to remove lose materials and restain it once it dries. If you get a decent power washer, it can remove all the old stain much easier than sanding anyway but again, I would only go that far if I was doing a very different color change.

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by texasdiver » Mon Jun 24, 2019 11:49 am

lthenderson wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 9:53 am
texasdiver wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 5:32 pm
I have two decks that need to be refinished this summer. Both are constructed with 2x6 pressure treated deck boards that have what I think is solid-color stain that is peeling and flaking off in places and there are a few boards that are so rotted they need to be pulled out and replaced.

Any advice?
Is their any particular reason you want to sand? Are you doing a drastic color change to a lighter stain? Personally I have never sanded a deck. I just power wash it to remove lose materials and restain it once it dries. If you get a decent power washer, it can remove all the old stain much easier than sanding anyway but again, I would only go that far if I was doing a very different color change.
The existing finish which is either paint or a solid stain (not sure how to tell the difference) is flaking and peeling and coming off. So I need to sand it down to where the old coating is not loose. If it were a semi-transparent stain I agree, I'd probably just wash it and re-stain.

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by LadyGeek » Mon Jun 24, 2019 3:25 pm

Summit111 has a question which I've moved into a new thread: [Replaced decking with treated pine. What to use for coating?]

I also moved one reply.
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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by A440 » Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:12 pm

I had 2 2x6 PT decks with a solid color stain close to ground level. It was an annual chore to move everything off the decks, pressure wash the parts that were peeling which always led to more parts peeling, replace the parts that were rotting, spend a morning re-staining and hope it didn't rain and keep the dog and kids off it for a day or two. After all that work and expense it still didn't look that great.
If it is in the budget some year, you may want to consider replacing it with a material that isn't so high maintenance. We chose colored concrete (not stamped) with curves in the design. The only maintenance required is a leaf blower and bottle of wet and forget and beverage of your choice each spring. As an added bonus, our crawl space gets less water now since there are no slats in concrete. Azek decking and pavers were also considered, but not in the budget.
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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by texasdiver » Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:21 pm

A440 wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:12 pm
I had 2 2x6 PT decks with a solid color stain close to ground level. It was an annual chore to move everything off the decks, pressure wash the parts that were peeling which always led to more parts peeling, replace the parts that were rotting, spend a morning re-staining and hope it didn't rain and keep the dog and kids off it for a day or two. After all that work and expense it still didn't look that great.
If it is in the budget some year, you may want to consider replacing it with a material that isn't so high maintenance. We chose colored concrete (not stamped) with curves in the design. The only maintenance required is a leaf blower and bottle of wet and forget and beverage of your choice each spring. As an added bonus, our crawl space gets less water now since there are no slats in concrete. Azek decking and pavers were also considered, but not in the budget.
Sounds exactly like what I have. Except that we have upstairs and downstairs decks, one on top of the other so double the work.

Did you replace the entire deck? Or just rip off the old deck boards and replace them while leaving the underlying beams and joists in place? I may count the number of boards and figure out what it would cost to replace it all with something sythetic. I'd be comfortable doing that work myself. But not replacing the entire deck itself.

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by Watty » Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:39 pm

texasdiver wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 5:32 pm
Both are constructed with 2x6 pressure treated deck boards that have what I think is solid-color stain that is peeling and flaking off in places and there are a few boards that are so rotted they need to be pulled out and replaced.
Be sure to look into the risk of the dust if you sand down the pressure treated wood.

They may not make it anymore but some types of pressure treated wood used to come with a warning about not breathing in the sawdust.

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by Sandtrap » Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:01 pm

Use compact vibrating palm sanders to do where the larger machine can't get. Then use a vibrating "plate sander" floor sanding machine for the field. They are heavy, you walk behind it. Rent it. Don't use a rotary sander as it will leave marks. Do not use a drum sander. Orbital is fine. Choose your grit carefully.
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Last edited by Sandtrap on Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by Sandtrap » Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:03 pm

texasdiver wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:21 pm
A440 wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:12 pm
I had 2 2x6 PT decks with a solid color stain close to ground level. It was an annual chore to move everything off the decks, pressure wash the parts that were peeling which always led to more parts peeling, replace the parts that were rotting, spend a morning re-staining and hope it didn't rain and keep the dog and kids off it for a day or two. After all that work and expense it still didn't look that great.
If it is in the budget some year, you may want to consider replacing it with a material that isn't so high maintenance. We chose colored concrete (not stamped) with curves in the design. The only maintenance required is a leaf blower and bottle of wet and forget and beverage of your choice each spring. As an added bonus, our crawl space gets less water now since there are no slats in concrete. Azek decking and pavers were also considered, but not in the budget.
Sounds exactly like what I have. Except that we have upstairs and downstairs decks, one on top of the other so double the work.

Did you replace the entire deck? Or just rip off the old deck boards and replace them while leaving the underlying beams and joists in place? I may count the number of boards and figure out what it would cost to replace it all with something sythetic. I'd be comfortable doing that work myself. But not replacing the entire deck itself.
Yes. Replace with synthetic (TrexDeck, etc) , non rusting deck screws or clips depending on the style of install. If you are in a humid rainy area, then consider using joist tape or other such product to keep moisture off the lower joists.
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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by likegarden » Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:07 pm

I live about 250 miles north of NY City. We have a pressure treated wood deck since 1987 and have never needed to replace wood. The deck gets sun in the afternoon. I was told to use a solid stain so the sun can not damage the wood. I use a waterproofing solid stain from Home Depot, and needed to do a touchup only the last 3 years, that is scraping off any cracked paint and apply 2 coats of the same stain I had used before on those places.

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by texasdiver » Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:33 pm

Watty wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:39 pm
texasdiver wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 5:32 pm
Both are constructed with 2x6 pressure treated deck boards that have what I think is solid-color stain that is peeling and flaking off in places and there are a few boards that are so rotted they need to be pulled out and replaced.
Be sure to look into the risk of the dust if you sand down the pressure treated wood.

They may not make it anymore but some types of pressure treated wood used to come with a warning about not breathing in the sawdust.
Thanks for the heads up. Something to look into. House was built in 2004 so I'll have to do some reasearch and see what they were using back then.

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by fishandgolf » Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:50 pm

Housedoc wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 6:22 pm
Saw a show where they did perimeter with handheld orbital and larger area with a sander used to refinish hardwood floors. Stand up and walk unit.
I did my deck with 5 inch orbital sander last year. Kneepads are a must. Took about 6hrs using 60 grit. Finished with 2 coats SW Superdeck.
I have a 10' x 20' deck that needs refinishing every 3-4 years. I use a 5" orbital sander with 60 grit pads......get plenty of them. It works fine. Make sure you wear a good dusk mask.

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by texasdiver » Mon Jun 24, 2019 6:11 pm

Anyone know how to tell the difference between paint and solid-color stain? And if it makes any difference which one you have? Or is solid-color stain just a thin version of paint?

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by Sandtrap » Mon Jun 24, 2019 6:20 pm

texasdiver wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 6:11 pm
Anyone know how to tell the difference between paint and solid-color stain? And if it makes any difference which one you have? Or is solid-color stain just a thin version of paint?
No.
Solid color stain has a high solvent percentage as it is made to soak into the material. Depending on finish, it may leave a gloss or satin surface. Solid color stain can be clear or pigmented. It's like oil treating the wood.

Paint has a very high solid count. It is made to sit on the surface and forms a protective layer over the wood vs soaking into it. It is not transparent, unless clear finish.

Generally, solid color stain is solvent based thus not washable with soap and water. Solvent based solid color stain smells like solvent.
Generally, paint is water based and washable with soap and water. Not always as there are oil based paints.
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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by texasdiver » Mon Jun 24, 2019 6:35 pm

Sandtrap wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 6:20 pm
texasdiver wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 6:11 pm
Anyone know how to tell the difference between paint and solid-color stain? And if it makes any difference which one you have? Or is solid-color stain just a thin version of paint?
No.
Solid color stain has a high solvent percentage as it is made to soak into the material. Depending on finish, it may leave a gloss or satin surface. Solid color stain can be clear or pigmented. It's like oil treating the wood.

Paint has a very high solid count. It is made to sit on the surface and forms a protective layer over the wood vs soaking into it. It is not transparent, unless clear finish.

Generally, solid color stain is solvent based thus not washable with soap and water. Solvent based solid color stain smells like solvent.
Generally, paint is water based and washable with soap and water. Not always as there are oil based paints.
This is what I"m working with. I assumed it was solid color stain but maybe it is paint?

Image

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by Chip » Tue Jun 25, 2019 4:34 am

Sandtrap wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:01 pm
Then use a vibrating "plate sander" floor sanding machine for the field. They are heavy, you walk behind it. Rent it. Don't use a rotary sander as it will leave marks. Do not use a drum sander. Orbital is fine. Choose your grit carefully.
j
My experience is much different from yours. The vibrating plate sander (which I called an orbital above) was much too slow for my needs and didn't remove enough material, even with the coarsest grit. The drum sander was quick and I ended up with a nice finish after the two pass treatment I mentioned above. I will admit it takes some skill to control it properly.

Based on the pix the OP provided I'm really convinced the drum is the way to go. Lots of material needs to be sanded off.

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by papiper » Tue Jun 25, 2019 6:51 am

I did it with a belt sander two years ago, but it was a lot of slow work. If I was doing it again, I would rent a floor sander and do the tight areas with a small orbital sander.

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:52 am

Chip wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 4:34 am
Sandtrap wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:01 pm
Then use a vibrating "plate sander" floor sanding machine for the field. They are heavy, you walk behind it. Rent it. Don't use a rotary sander as it will leave marks. Do not use a drum sander. Orbital is fine. Choose your grit carefully.
j
My experience is much different from yours. The vibrating plate sander (which I called an orbital above) was much too slow for my needs and didn't remove enough material, even with the coarsest grit. The drum sander was quick and I ended up with a nice finish after the two pass treatment I mentioned above. I will admit it takes some skill to control it properly.

Based on the pix the OP provided I'm really convinced the drum is the way to go. Lots of material needs to be sanded off.
:oops:
Come to think of it. You're right. I was thinking of new decks where we used the plate to level things off and give a final finish.

On a heavily weathered deck, yes, the drum is the way to go, "But" you can get in trouble real fast and put "rat bites" into the wood especially if it is soft like cedar or pine. Doug fir is harder.

You have to really pay attention to the grit being used. And go progressively from rough to finer.
Those big rubber eraser blocks to clean sandpaper work great and keep the sandpaper costs down. Be careful not to sand your fingers or hand. The machine will go thru a thin leather glove in a second.

For interior 1" oak flooring refinishing we've used both the drum and the plate but it depended on how bad the weathering was and the skill of the operator (usually me).

The other advantage of the drum is it keeps the grain lines intact as long as it's used in the right direction.

The deck pictured is going to need a whole lot of work but will look great in the long run. Some of that weathered damaged stuff needs to be replaced.

Thanks for pointing that out.

Mahalo,
j :happy
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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by A440 » Tue Jun 25, 2019 8:14 am

texasdiver wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:21 pm
A440 wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:12 pm
I had 2 2x6 PT decks with a solid color stain close to ground level. It was an annual chore to move everything off the decks, pressure wash the parts that were peeling which always led to more parts peeling, replace the parts that were rotting, spend a morning re-staining and hope it didn't rain and keep the dog and kids off it for a day or two. After all that work and expense it still didn't look that great.
If it is in the budget some year, you may want to consider replacing it with a material that isn't so high maintenance. We chose colored concrete (not stamped) with curves in the design. The only maintenance required is a leaf blower and bottle of wet and forget and beverage of your choice each spring. As an added bonus, our crawl space gets less water now since there are no slats in concrete. Azek decking and pavers were also considered, but not in the budget.
Sounds exactly like what I have. Except that we have upstairs and downstairs decks, one on top of the other so double the work.

Did you replace the entire deck? Or just rip off the old deck boards and replace them while leaving the underlying beams and joists in place? I may count the number of boards and figure out what it would cost to replace it all with something sythetic. I'd be comfortable doing that work myself. But not replacing the entire deck itself.
I only replaced the boards that had dry rot. After several years it started to look like a jigsaw puzzle. I couldn't replace all the boards and leave the joists because the composite decking had different requirements for the distance between the joists and our joists were too wide apart. I liked the look of the composite/synthetic decks, but the price was out of our budget. Our area also gets early afternoon sun, so the temperature of the decking was also a factor. Our two decks were adjacent to each other. We decided to make the area one large single level. The provided the kids with an area to scooter, roller blade, etc and also for some new designs for outdoor living.
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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by Hanksmoney » Tue Jun 25, 2019 9:51 am

Are there accessible screws? If you so, you could flip the boards.

edit: saw your pic with that solid stain and nails- don't think flipping would work

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by Doug E. Dee » Wed Jun 26, 2019 7:50 am

I was in the exact same situation as Op a few years ago, with a solid stain that was coming up.

I sanded mine with a disk sander on a drill. Probably not a good method as it was a lot of work. Several sessions with knee pads and a respirator and it was easy to gouge if you weren't careful, but it really ate up the chipping stain. I tried using a small belt sander but it was slow going.

The drum floor sander should work well on a large deck, but you have to make sure your fasteners are all counter-sunk well. On a smaller deck, I would try an orbital as mentioned up-thread.

I now use either a semi-solid or semi-transparent stain. These penetrate where as a solid tends to be more of a film coating.

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by jabberwockOG » Wed Jun 26, 2019 8:06 am

If I was going to be in that house for a while I'd replace the deck boards with a high quality synthetic deck material. Buy once, cry once.

Be very careful and wear a high quality respirator when sanding pressure treated wood that is rated for outdoor use (like those 5/4 deck boards).

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by Sandtrap » Wed Jun 26, 2019 8:14 am

jabberwockOG wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 8:06 am
If I was going to be in that house for a while I'd replace the deck boards with a high quality synthetic deck material. Buy once, cry once.

Be very careful and wear a high quality respirator when sanding pressure treated wood that is rated for outdoor use (like those 5/4 deck boards).
+1
It can be done region/area by area if you have large deck areas surrounding the home. I worked with one homeowner who did it incrementally like this as he was able to save up for it.
j
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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by FI4LIFE » Wed Jun 26, 2019 6:29 pm

I was in the same position (twice actually). One time I just flipped the boards over. The next time we used the professional floor sander. Realize you should probably sink all the nails or screws approximately 1/8 inch if you are going to use the professional sander or you will quickly go through the sandpaper, which is not cheap.

Due to environmental regulations on VOC's in paint/stain, it is hard to find stain that lasts and doesn't peel. I much prefer fading to peeling and have had good luck with a product called TWP. It will fade but doesn't peel. Honestly I would not bother staining it once you sand it. Just let it grey out.

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by texasdiver » Thu Jul 04, 2019 11:13 pm

OP here....

Just finished sanding the dang thing. This is the last time I'm doing this. Next time this deck needs servicing I'm ripping it all up and installing Trex or Timbertech composite decking.

Anyway,

1. Bought Behr stain stripper. Dumped a whole gallon onto the deck and pushed it around with a paint roller. After 40 minutes rinsed it off as per the instructions and nothing... Well, it faded the color a bit but didn't remove even one inch of stain so that was useless. The old coating was solid color stain, I assume water-based but don't really know. But whatever it was the stain remover did nothing.

2. Bought a large Makita 4x24 belt sander which did remove the finish but that was really slow going and tiring.

3. Rented a big floor drum sander and that finally took the stain off. About 2 solid hours of work for each deck, top and bottom. Had to finish out the corners and low spots with the belt sander and my orbital sander. And I hit all the railings with the orbital sander. You have to really be careful using a floor drum sander on softwood decks. If you don't keep the thing moving at a even pace you can quickly grind big divots into the deck. But it removes coatings MUCH faster than the big floor orbital sanders.

Ready to apply the new stain tomorrow. Bought the top of the line Olympic Elite from Home Depot. They have a $40 rebate on each 5 gallon bucket so that takes the price down. It was the top rated stain in Consumer Reports. So who knows. All these water-based solid color stains have mixed reviews. The seem to frequently fail if you don't have the wood perfectly prepped and all the old coatings removed.

Anyway, last time I'm doing this. When it needs work again I'm going all composite.

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by Chip » Fri Jul 05, 2019 4:28 am

texasdiver wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 11:13 pm
Just finished sanding the dang thing. This is the last time I'm doing this. Next time this deck needs servicing I'm ripping it all up and installing Trex or Timbertech composite decking.
Good for you in getting it done. It should look great once you get the stain applied. Remember not to apply the stain in full sun. It will dry too quickly and likely fail to penetrate.

Since you started this thread we have also sanded and restained our 600 sq ft deck yet again (6th time since buying the house). It took about 3 hours for the floor sanding (one pass each with 20 and 36 grit), then another 8 hours to get the spaces between the deck boards cleaned out and the deck edges sanded. We skipped doing the pickets this year, though may work on them later.

Staining required about 4 hours for two coats of solid color stain. We have been using Cabot, which I believe was a CR pick several years ago. Nothing we've used looks good for more than 3 years.

We've said the "this is the last time" line a few times, including this year. I'm taking a wild guess that a high quality Timbertech rebuild will cost 30k+. Versus the $200 to refinish what we have. It makes the decision a little difficult.

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Re: Belt sander or disc sander for refinishing decks?

Post by mancich » Fri Jul 05, 2019 5:52 am

I've also said "this is the last time" several times. Just refinished our PT wood deck last month, and not doing it again. It is only 12' x 20', but is a royal pain in the butt. Composite all the way :beer

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