05-04-2011 08:42 PM - edited 11-01-2011 07:13 PM
Hey there Irdglover, I’m Blake from the California Home Depot. Refinishing a badly damaged deck doesn’t have to be a hard job. A big part of the process is having the right tools. I think you are on the right track with sanding down the damaged portion of the deck and refinishing it from there.
There are a few things to keep in mind before you start. If some planks are badly bowed, cupped, or warped they should probably be replaced. Also all fasteners should be sunk deeper to accommodate for the amount of wood that you will be removing from the surface (which may be quite a bit depending on the damage).
SAFETY NOTE: Any time you are working with a sander that uses a dust collection bag, take great care to empty the bag before it reaches the full line (usually ½ way up the bag). Failing to do so can result in a serious fire hazard. Always wear eye protection and respiratory protection when working with sanders.
Ideally you should rent three sanders to complete the project. The first sander is the drum flooring sander:
This sander is very aggressive and is designed to remove a lot of wood quickly. Select 60 grit sandpaper for lighter damaged surface, or 36 then 80 grit sandpaper if there is more extensive damage. Start sanding in the far corner of the deck and walk the sander backwards at a 45 degree angle (this makes the scratches stand out against the grain of the wood, making finishing work easier down the road).
The second sander I suggest would be the square-buff floor sander:
This is a floor finishing sander and is essentially a 90 pound random orbit sander (cool huh?). Depending on where you stopped with the drum sander you may want to start with 100 grit, then go up to 120-150 grit, or simply do multiple passes with a 120 (if you ended with 80 grit on the drum sander). The square buff sander removes wood more slowly than a rotary sander or drum sander so patience is important. For a DIYer mastering control of a rotary sander can be a costly experience in time, energy, and potential damage if you let one get away from you (ask me how I know). Compared to rotary sanders, square buff sanders are smooth sailing!
The last sander you would want ideally is a floor edging sander:
The edger allows you to get the sander right up to your posts and walls. By comparison the drum sander and square buff sander will only let you get up to a few inches from the wall. You could also use a small random orbit sander to sand your edge; however, the edging sander will make quicker work of this job! Because the edges were not touched by either of the previous two sanders you will need to start with 60 grit, and finish with 100 grit.
After removing your extensive collection of sawdust with a vacuum and some damp cheese cloth, you are ready to start staining!
I hope this helps Irdglover!
I am a Home Depot Store Associate, trained and authorized to help people on the Internet.