How to Sand an Old Deck Before You Stain It

A new coat of stain can transform an old deck into something beautiful. However, if you don't employ the proper preparation techniques, you may end up with an unattractive finish that won't hold up over time. Before you begin applying stain to your deck, you may want to remove old layers of stain and smooth rough or splintering areas first by sanding. Unfortunately, many inexperienced do-it-yourselfers tend to damage the surface of their deck by sanding with incorrect technique.

Step 1

Wait for a warm, dry day. 

Step 2

Wash away dirt and dust from the old deck using the pressure washer.  Begin on a low setting and gradually increase pressure to avoid damaging the surface of the old deck.

Step 3

Ensure that the deck is completely dry before you begin sanding it. 

Step 4

Load the power sander with 80 to 120 grit sandpaper.  Use the power sander to sand the old deck.

Begin at one far corner and work from left to right.  Sand along with the grain of the wood and never against it.

Step 5

Continue sanding from left to right in a fluid motion being careful not to stay in one single area for more than three to four seconds.  Replace the piece of 80 to 120 grit sandpaper with a new one once the grit has worn down.

Step 6

Wash away sawdust from the old deck using the pressure washer. 

Things You Will Need

  • Pressure washer
  • 80 to 120 grit sandpaper
  • Power sander


  • If you are attempting to remove old stain as you sand, you may be surprised to find that the pressure washer can do much of this for you. Focused, concentrated water pressure can remove most of the top layers of stain from an old deck. However, you must work slowly and use care or you may damage the wood.
  • If you do not own a power sander, you may sand the old deck by hand. However, this can be taxing and you must concentrate on sanding along with the grain of the wood or you will damage it.


  • Do not begin staining until you have washed away all dirt and sawdust or you will have problems with adhesion.

About the Author

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.

Photo Credits

  • Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images