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How Long Does It Take To Refinish A Deck?

If you plan on refinishing your deck, it's important to have an estimate of how much time the process is going to take so you will have an idea of when your deck will be unavailable for use. It's good that you are on this page, as we did research on this topic, and here's what we found.

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Refinishing a deck may take at least a week to complete. The condition of the deck greatly affects the amount of time needed to finish. Decks that are relatively new and have minimal damage will take a shorter period to complete. Older decks may take several days longer. 

Does your deck have splinters and cracks? Will you stain it or paint it? These are some of the things you need to consider in getting a realistic estimate of the time you will need in refinishing your deck. Let's go over the steps and see which ones you will need to do considering the condition of your deck.

Spacious wooden deck with benches and attached pergola - How Long Does It Take To Refinish A Deck

Steps In Refinishing The Deck

Large walkout deck with wicker furniture and perfect landscape view

Step 1: Repairing the damaged parts (1-2 days)

A hole and rusty nails on rotten wooden deck with lichen growing. Wood deck board architecture and damage repair. Home improvement, renovation and refurbishment product concept.

Remove the furniture from your deck and take away all clutter. Go around your deck and see if there are cracks in the wood or splinters.

Then prepare all the materials and tools you will need to do the necessary repairs. You can apply wood filler or putty for minor cracks, but for major damage, it is best to replace the wood instead.

On average, repairing or replacing damaged parts will take you a day or two depending on the severity of the damage. If your deck is new and doesn't need any repair, you may go directly to the next step.

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Step 2: Cleaning The Deck (2-3 hours)

cleaning terrace with a power washer - high water pressure cleaner on wooden terrace surface

Soak a stiff bristled brush in a deck cleaner and start scrubbing the surface of the wood. After scrubbing the entire deck, let the solution settle for at least 15 minutes, then start rinsing the deck with a pressure hose. Wash until the deck is free of dirt.

If your deck doesn't have much algae or dirt, light pressure is enough. Note that too much pressure may cause serious damage to the wood. So be mindful when you pressure wash and use only the lowest pressure that can effectively remove dirt.

On the average, this step will take you only two to three hours to complete.

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Step 3: Let The Deck Dry (2 Days)

Spacious wooden deck with benches and attached pergola

Whether you plan to sand your deck or directly apply stain or paint, the deck must be completely dry first.

If you sand on wet wood, the dust may only stick to the wood and will be difficult to remove. In effect, the pores will be clogged and will later on lead to poor stain absorption.

Moreover, you should not stain or paint over wet wood because the moisture in the wood will fight off the oils in the stain and paint. Even if you use a water-based stain or paint, the result will still be significantly off.

With cloudy or sunny weather, it will take at least 48 hours for the deck to fully dry.

Step 4: Sanding The Wood and Removing The Dust (8 hours)

Horizontal photo of mature man kneeling while sanding outdoor wooden deck

When the deck is completely dry, you may start sanding the wood to open up the pores that will absorb the stain or paint. Sanding the entire deck is recommended if the boards are already rough and heavily weathered.

For relatively new decks, sanding may not be necessary. But if you opt to sand, apply only a gentle pressure. If your deck is built of pressure-treated wood, it is not recommended to sand, as it will  ruin the protective layer of the wood and make your deck look less attractive.

This step, including removal of dust, will take at least eight hours to finish.

Removing the dust particles

Never use a pressure hose when removing the dust particles after sanding. This may seem to be a faster way of removing the sand particles, but water raises grain in wood.

Therefore, instead of expediting the process, it will only lead to the need for sanding your deck all over, which entails a much longer time to complete the refinishing. If you wet the wood again, you'd have to wait another 48 hours for it to dry before you can start staining. 

The best way to remove the dust particles from the surface of the deck is to use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the bulk of the dust. Then wipe the wood with a cloth dampened in mineral spirits. Lastly, use a tack cloth to clean up all the remaining particles.

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Step 5: Staining/Painting And Drying (3 Days)

Worker Applying Stain to Deck

After making sure that all sand particles are completely removed, you may now stain or paint over the wood. Either way, start by applying a primer. This will enable the stain or paint to soak into the wood properly. 

If you choose to stain your deck, use a cloth or sponge over the flat surface for faster application. The corners and other narrow areas however will require a small paint brush.

If you opt to paint, use a paint roller and liberally apply it to the deck's surface. Then use a paint brush for the corners and the spaces in between boards.

You can add another layer of paint if you want to make the wood look more pigmented, but let the previous layer dry first to avoid the risk of layers building up.

Staining or painting  will take one day. You will need to factor in a four-hour gap for subsequent layer applications and drying, which will take at least 48 hours. In total, this step is going to take approximately three days to finish.

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Step 7: Sealing The Freshly Stained or Painted Deck (2 Days)

After the stain or paint has dried, you can add a protective sealer. Though the stain will most likely protect the deck from UV rays, the sealer will add extra protection from moisture damage. 

This will take a minimum of 48 hours, including the drying time.

When the sealer has completely dried, put your furniture back and enjoy your fresh-looking, refinished deck!

What If It Rains After Sanding The Deck?

Raining on the floor

Water causes raised grains on wood. If it rains after you have sanded the deck, you will need to postpone the staining or painting stage and wait another 48 hours for the deck to completely dry.

If you notice raised grains after the deck has dried, you will need to sand the deck all over. Thus, it is very important to check the weather forecast before you start refinishing your deck. This can save you time and effort.

Can You Restain Over Old Stain On A Deck?

If your old stain is still in good condition, you can apply another coat of the same stain you most recently used, but this is only for the purpose of making the deck look new and vibrant again.

As a general rule, it is always better to prepare your deck properly and remove the old stain first before applying a new one. This is because the old stain may hinder the wood from absorbing the new stain.

Moreover, staining over an old stain does not address the damage brought to the deck by ordinary wear and tear.

In Closing

To be able to achieve the best result, it is very important not to rush your deck's refinishing process.

The look of a newly refinished deck is very exciting, but it really pays to be patient, knowing that after all the waiting, you will get a vibrant, beautiful deck that will serve you for a long time. 

We hope that in this post you were able to pick some guidance in determining the time you need to refinish your deck. For more deck maintenance tips, make sure to read these posts too!

Should You Wash Deck After Sanding?

Pros And Cons Of Staining A Deck