Les Waganer's Deck Refinishing Project - June 2010
We all like to show off our woodworking projects when they are completed and look good. I just finished one I want to show you.
We purchased our house 15 years ago and had a cedar deck put on when we moved in - no stairs. I refinished it that year and found that it needed minor finishing updates every year or two with a major redo every 5 years.  This was the year for the major update. What I do is completely strip the deck down to a bare deck, sand the deck and side boards, and run all the balusters, vertical supports and all rails through my planer, jointer and router to get down to clean, bare wood. The picture show the work in progress and the final results. I use a semi-transparent stain/sealer. I had been using TWP which lasts 1-2 years. This year I used Olympic Maximum which has an advertised life of 5 years on a deck, which I doubt, but it was the best one I could find.  I do not like the look of solid stains which last longer.
Crazy as I am, I did this sanding and staining on the very hottest days of the last two weeks.  But it promised that there would be no rain and that came true.  At my staining station, I put a 20" fan directly in front of me and that keep the temperatures somewhat tolerable, but I spent a lot of time in the direct sunlight.
It sounds like this is a really big task, but it might not be much more time than stripping and cleaning the deck. Plus this is more fun. I filled up two sacks of sawdust in my new dust collector. (We measure our fun by the amount of sawdust we create.)  Also, the deck is significantly lighter in weight now. It is really amazing to see these boards go into the planer all dirty and weathered and come out smelling of cedar.  It is Great.
So when your deck looks weathered and dirty, try this, but do not call me!
Unfinished balusters Finishing (and cooling) station
Refinished top rails Refinished side boards
Refinished balusters Refinished bare deck
Finished deck - east view Finished deck - west view