Sanding a Deck With a Vibrating Plate Sander
As decks age, they develop splinters and rough patches due to water penetration and the damaging effects of the sun. When these problems occur, the solution is to sand off the top layer of wood to restore the smoothness of the deck. Sanding a deck is best accomplished using an electric vibrating plate sander which vibrates rapidly as you push it. These tools are available at home improvement stores or tool rental agencies and greatly speed the sanding process.
Remove everything from the deck, and then sweep it with a broom to remove all surface debris. Walk around the deck and look for nails that have risen out of the boards. Hammer all raised nail heads back flush with the wood surface.
Don protective safety wear, including safety glasses, a dust mask and work gloves. Install a piece of 60-grit sandpaper on the bottom of the vibrating plate sander using the manufacturer’s instructions. Plug the cord of the sander into an electric outlet.
Position the sander at one side of the deck and turn on the power button. Push the sander forward using a slow pace, and follow along the same direction as the deck boards. Work in a 3- to 4-foot-wide area at a time, and then move onto another area of the deck. Continue until the entire deck is sanded.
Sweep the deck to remove the dust from the surface, and then sand it with the vibrating sander using an 80-grit piece of sandpaper.
Sweep the deck again, and replace the sandpaper sheet with a 100-grit sheet. Sand the deck a final time.
Unplug the vibrating plate sander, and plug in an edge sander with an 80-grit piece of sandpaper. Sand down the edges of the deck and any railings and steps that were too small for the vibrating sander to reach.
Sweep the entire deck thoroughly a final time, and then proceed to seal or stain it as desired.
- If your deck has mold, mildew or algae on it, wash it using a deck-cleaner product before sanding it. Allow the deck boards to dry for at least two to three days before sanding to allow the water to evaporate completely from the wood.
Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.
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