Handyman: New products make refinishing deck easier

Glenn Haege
Special to The Detroit News

The outdoor party season is upon us, and that usually means you will want to entertain on your deck. So now is the time to maintain or refinish it so it is ready for the all the summer barbecues.

If you have a composite or PVC deck, you can clean it using a mild detergent and a soft-bristled brush and then rinse with a garden hose. If your composite deck has faded, you can stain it with products like Penofin’s Knotwood Oil Finish, (, Sherwin Williams Deckscapes, ( or Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Waterborne Exterior Stain (

If you have a wood deck that is in good shape, you can clean it using products like Cabot Problem Solver Wood Cleaner ( or 30 Seconds Outdoor Cleaner (

However, if your wood deck needs some serious attention, you will need to strip off the old stain or coating before you refinish it. But this is a process you can’t take lightly, because completely stripping off the old coating is the key to ensuring the new coating adheres properly.

“A lot of people have used an elastomeric solid-color stain on their deck but if they didn’t prep it properly, it may be peeling now,” said Mike Sancimino, president of Diamabrush,, manufacturer of products used for surface preparation and coating removal.

To help homeowners remove old deck coatings faster and more effectively, Sancimino said the Diamabrush for Wood, Decks & Siding Tool is used with a standard angle hand grinder and will completely strip the old coating off a deck in far less time than typical chemical stripping products.

“Unfortunately using traditional stripping products can take two or three weekends to get the old coating off the deck, and using a belt sander or a power washer can damage the wood,” Sancimino said. “But our Diambrush for decks is very easy to use and can do the job in around four hours for a 400- to 500-square-foot deck without gouging or damaging the wood.”

Sancimino said the Diamabrush for Wood, Decks & Siding Tool is currently available at Sherwin-Williams paint stores nationally.

If you want to remove the old finish with traditional stripping products, I recommend using an environmentally friendly stripper such as Behr’s Premium Stain and Finish Stripper No. 64 (, Cabot’s Problem Solver Wood Stripper (, or Peel Away Deck Stripper by Dumond Chemical (

Once you have completely stripped the old deck coating, you are ready to stain it or coat it with an elastomeric coating. If you are going to stain it, there are four categories of stains to choose from, including clear and semi-transparent, which allows the grain of the wood to show through while offering some protection from the elements; or semi-solid and solid colors that act more like paint, offer the most protection in the stain category against damage from UV rays and are great for matching the color of your deck to your siding or brick.

When choosing a stain, make sure you stick with quality stain manufacturers like Benjamin Moore (, Cabot, Penofin ( or Sikkens (

If your deck gets excessive exposure to the sun or moisture, you may want to consider using a protective deck product like One Time Wood,, that is made with a proprietary acrylate resin blend. According to Kathy Fishel, One Time Wood general manager, the product has some unique advantages over typical deck stains.

“Our product is a wood protector that penetrates deep into the wood’s cellular structure and cures with natural sunlight, so it can’t evaporate or wash away like other stain products that simply coat the wood surface,” Fishel said.

She said that One Time Wood comes in six colors, has zero VOCs, only needs one application and is guaranteed to protect against the damage of sun, water and other elements for seven years.

For older decks that need more serious coating to cover the cracks and blemishes, you can consider one of the elastomeric coating products like Rustoleum’s Deck and Concrete Restore 4X or 10X, or Behr Premium Deckover.

For more information on refinishing a wood deck, download my “Deck Care Fast & Easy” book from my website,

For more home improvement advice, call “The Handyman Show with Glenn Haege” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 from 8-10 a.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can also be heard on more than 135 radio stations nationwide.