top of page
  • Carlton Clark

How To Refinish A Deck

If you're looking for advice on how to refinish a deck, then you've come to the right place.

To start, it's important to know why you should refinish a deck.

Why Refinish A Deck

Refinishing a deck has loads of benefits that will save you money, time, and will transform your house into a masterpiece.

For starters massive amounts of mildew and algae will start to build up, this makes the deck look terrible and will even become very slippery. By regularly refinishing your deck you can completely eliminate this risk.

Another huge benefit is saving your deck, the longer it sits there without getting refinished, it'll just get worse, and worse and eventually cost you a lot of money. Think of it as if the desk is getting dehydrated and the only way to revive it is to refinish it.

Last but not least, refinishing your deck will make your neighbors drool. When you refinish a desk, it'll make the whole property warm and inviting.

When picking out colors for your deck, be sure to plan on when the project will start to avoid any costly mistakes.

Best Time To Refinish A Deck

It makes sense to start staining a beautiful sunny day right?


Staining on a hot, sunny, summer day will actually make both strippers and cleaners evaporate and become ineffective. On a sunny day, it's best to just do a fun activity like heading to the beach.

So when is the best time to stain?

A cool, overcast day is surprisingly the best time to get to work. Just be sure to avoid any rain as that would ruin the entire project. Working in this weather will allow for the stain to settle properly. Another benefit is it'll be cooler for you so you’re not working in extreme temperatures.

It's best to work on the deck in sections. This way you avoid possible rain days, it also will relieve your body so you’re not working non-stop.

Be sure to grab the right tools and materials so that you’re prepared. Nobody wants to take two trips to the hardware store.

Necessary Tools And Materials


  • Paint Roller

  • Paint Scraper

  • Paintbrush

  • Paint Tray

  • Bucket

  • Stiff-bristle brushes

  • Roller sleeve

  • Pump sprayer

  • Safety glasses


  • Plastic Sheeting

  • Painters tape

  • Deck Finish

  • Deck stripper

How To Refinish A Deck

At Hillis Brothers, we follow a 3-step process for deck staining and refinishing. For this article, we’ll show you the full 5-step process you’ll want to follow.

Prep The Deck

Replace Rotten Or Damaged Boards

The very first step is very important, you'll want to inspect the entire deck for any loose boards or structural problems that include severely split. If you see any boards that need attention ensure to replace them before starting the project.

It's important to do this before starting the overall project for a couple of reasons...

First of all, you don't want to complete the project and then have to go back in a couple of months to replace it. Another reason is it can be a tripping hazard and take away from the beauty of the completed deck.

Cleaning And Pressure Wash The Deck

The second step you'll want to take is completely removing any old varnish or paint from the old deck. If you plan to just put varnish or paint over old paint, it'll lead to an expensive mess. Doing this will cause your new paint job to be peeled away with ease.

This will also remove any loose debris such as sticks, leaves, etc.

Be sure to go easy with the pressure washer or you can actually cause damage to the deck.

Tip: Pressure wash softer woods at 500 PSI and Harder woods at 1,200 to 1,500 PSI

Sand The Deck

Following the pressure wash, you'll want to sand the whole deck. This can be a little tedious but will give a much better-finished product.

Doing this will also eliminate a chance of splinters.

But most importantly it'll make applying the finish a breeze, there won't be any weird cracks for the finish to gather at.

If your deck is in good shape, you have the option to only sand the handrails and maybe some spot sanding.

Sanding the handrails is vital to eliminate splinters.

Tip: Use 60 or 80 grit sandpaper for the main deck and 80 or 100 grit for the handrails

Choose The Right Stain

The step that is the most important would be choosing your stain. This is going to be the part that everyone will notice, so be sure to take your time and find the perfect color.

Another major part is selecting the right type of stain

What does this mean?

Well, there are multiple different types, they're meant for different scenarios. This makes for a better product.

In today's world, most stains will be a one-step application. Which is good for you!

Some different types of stain are listed below:

  • Clear sealers

  • Semi-transparent

  • Water-based

  • Oil-based

Although they all have different finishes the best for a deck would be a quality oil-based, penetrating, exterior semi-transparent stain. You might not be able to find this is a traditional hardware store, as it's a higher quality stain.

Tip: Be sure to test the stain before doing the entire deck, this will save you a lot of money and time

Apply The Stain

The final step is to apply the stain. This is where all the hard work pays off and the vision comes to life. Be sure the deck is completely dry for 2 days before staining. This will take out the moisture and allow for better application.

You'll want to start with the handrails so they can dry while you finish the deck boards.

For deck boards it's best to use a flat paint-pad applicator, this will give you speed and quality.

When applying, be you'll want to let the stain soak in for a bit then wipe up any excess with a rag. Also, make sure there are no pools of stain.

Tip: Dispose of any oily rags to prevent a fire hazard

Best Deck Refinishing Products

Cabots Gold

Cabot® Gold is the ultimate finish, providing a beautiful sheen and strong protection from Mother Nature's worst: UV sun damage, extreme temperatures, rain, and moisture. The first coat penetrates, the second coat adds dimension as it seals. The finish mimics the look of interior hardwood floors. The amount of sheen will vary based on the number and thickness of each coat. Sheen will weather gradually over time.

Oil-based Semi-Solid Stain From Cabot Called Bark Mulch

With Bark Mulch, you're guaranteed to get some jealous neighbors! Not only does it look amazing, but it will also withstand aggressive weather and traffic. This shade will look stunning at the family cookout!

Rollie Williams Sansin SDS Color 24 Butternut

With this dark brown shade, you will make any yard transform into a modern masterpiece. It's designed to perform through the weather along with heavy traffic from family gatherings. Combining this shade with some greenery will make your deck pop!

Brickstone by Cabot

Brickstone by Cabot is a great choice for any deck. This shade is built for anything, featuring the ability to hose off easily. It's also skid-resistant which allows for moving furniture easily. The hard-finish will fight off any dirt or debris that makes it onto the deck.

Enjoy a clean deck at any moment's use!

TWP Dark Oak

Similar to the Butternut shade, this is a modern dark brown. This will look best when close to forests or any type of greenery. It's designed to withstand any weather that's thrown at it. It's guaranteed to look amazing year-round!

Sherwin Williams Cedar Bark Semi-Solid Stain

Cedar Bark will make any deck look magnificent. It's built for large gatherings and lots of foot traffic! This shade will completely change the look of your backyard with a semi-solid finish.

Where To Use These Deck Refinishing Products

Recommended for use on exterior wood decks, siding, fences, and outdoor furniture, provided wood is sound and free of other coatings, sealers, dirt, and other contaminants. Ideal for use on cedar and pressure-treated pine. For wood substrates only.

What To Look For In A Stain

With so many options, it can be easy to get confused, stressed, and just straight up lost. The main things you want to focus on are the shade along with its durability against factors such as UV from the sun, foot traffic, and weather.

It's also important to a stain that will remain clean or can be cleaned off easily with a hose. Make sure to put into the equation what type of wood the deck is.

With expensive wood such as hardwood will have beautiful grain and textures meaning you want more of a transparent stain to enhance that look.

With a softer wood, you'll want to use semi-solid and solid stains to hold off the weather. Here are the main things you'll want to look for in a stain:

  • Fills cracks to 1/4"

  • Locks down splinters

  • Skid-resistant

  • Hard finish resists dirt

  • Hoses off easily

  • Scuff Resistant

  • Strong Weatherproof Protection

  • Provides a Mildew Resistant Finish

Like states before, you'll want a great look, durable against weather, and traffic. You don't want to go too cheap on your stain or you might face some issues later on.

Regardless, looking for these key features in a stain will really save you in the long run!

Final Thoughts

Refinishing a deck can be a lot of work, but in the end, you'll have a beautiful deck that will have everybody wanting the party at your place!

It's going to take a process of getting the right tools, power washing, sanding, picking out the stain, and finally applying.

Be sure to do it on a cooler overcast day without precipitation. This will lead to a better application.

With these simple steps, you can start planning those summer cookouts with the family!

2,158 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page