When your wood deck has only minimal damage, such as fading or splintering from normal wear and tear, sanding may be an easy way to give it new life. Sanding is necessary if you plan to repaint or stain your deck, but it can be used to smooth an old deck's rough and uneven surface, as well. Begin by washing your wood deck with a pressure washer so any previous layers of finish and dirt are removed. Pressure washing also removes many deck stains, so it may be easier to identify areas where your deck is particularly damaged. Several different types of sanders may be used to sand your wood deck. Palm sanders are small but easier to control, so they are less likely to gouge the wood. They are a good option for the inexperienced operator, but, because of their size, can take a great deal of time. Disc sanders and belt sanders are larger, so they can make the job go much more quickly. However, these can be difficult to control, so they may initially be a challenge for the inexperienced operator.
For specific damage to your wood deck, such as water rot, more serious repairs may be needed. Epoxy products can be used to fill in areas where the wood has rotted away, so the deck becomes stable once more. Begin by sanding the rotted area of the deck and use a screwdriver to push out any soft, wet pieces of wood. When the wood is dry and you have removed all of the flaking, crumbling pieces, apply a liquid epoxy product. Most epoxy products for wood are two-epoxy resins that are applied to the wood with a brush. The resins soak into the damaged wood fibers and harden the softened areas, strengthening the wood. Let the epoxy cure for approximately a week until it is no longer tacky. When the liquid epoxy is fully cured, apply a thicker wood epoxy product to fill in the uneven areas. You can apply the epoxy putty with a putty knife or by hand while wearing rubber gloves. Allow the epoxy putty to harden for several hours and scrape away any excess. If there are still gaps, apply another layer of the putty. Once the area is fully patched, you can paint or stain the deck as you normally would.
In the case of a severely damaged or rotted wood deck, repairs may not be possible. The damaged wood must be removed from the deck and replaced. Test areas that appear damaged with a screwdriver. If the wood is soft, it needs to be replaced. It is important to replace damaged boards before the rot spreads to other boards. With a nail puller or screwdriver, remove the damaged board's nails and screws. The boards may be pried up if the screws or nails are too rusted for removal. Replace the damaged wood with new boards that are the same size. Afterward, you may want to use a cleaner and brightening product on the older boards in the deck so that they match the new boards more closely.