For WAY too long we have had refinishing our decks on the ol' to do list. By "way too long" I mean several years. The prospect of sanding the deck down and reapplying finish, only to have to do the same process over in a couple of years was not appealing. When we put in the front deck we finished it with a name brand sealant that didn't even make it through a year of use, so this time I was on a mission to find something that was more durable and easy to reapply when the time came.

We did a bunch of research and contemplated just replacing the deck boards with composite decking, but taking out perfectly good material wasn't sitting well with me. After HOURS of research over several months I happened across an article about an oil finish that doesn't need to be removed before reapplying. With the knowledge that such a product existed, I went off to Home Depot and spent almost 30 minutes talking to the paint department staff to get their advice on choosing a product. We settled on the PPG Timeless Penetrating Oil in Mahogany for our project. The amazing thing about this finish is that when the waterproofing capabilities seem to be fading, we can simply powerwash the surface and reapply a coat or two of finish.

Now, refinishing a deck probably isn't something that you think of as a weekend project... I assure you it is possible. Even while your husband is off riding in BMX races and you're at home by yourself sanding and sanding and sanding... You can do this!


Deck Sander

I used a drum sander because that is what the Home Depot rental center had available.


We started with a trusty belt sander we'd had for years, but it finally gave up during this project and we replaced it with an random orbital sander. Both worked just fine.


Purchase sandpaper for both the deck sander and regular sander in varying grits. We used 60 and 80 grit, but could have gone even finer if I hadn't gotten tired of sanding. :) Buy extra so you don't run out, Home Depot is great about returning unused product!

Deck Finish

As mentioned above, we used PPG Timeless Penetrating Oil in Mahogany. Our deck surface was about 500 square feet, so I bought four gallons and have lots of leftover for future refinishes.

Painting Supplies

I'd recommend using a floor finish applicator to apply the stain, I used an old rag and my back was awfully sore at the end of this project. Additionally, you'll want a paintbrush to get the edges of the deck, paint trays and some paint thinner or mineral spirits for cleanup.

The Process

First clean your deck surface, either with deck cleaner and a stiff brush or by powerwashing. Let the surface dry. Tip: Do this Friday night so you can start sanding Saturday morning.


Once the dec is dry, you'll want to sand the surface. Use the floor or drum sander to take off the existing finish and smooth out any rough areas.


After the main area is sanded, use the smaller sander to do any cleanup around the edges or in tight spots such as stairs.

We powerwashed the deck once more after the sanding was complete on Saturday evening and put the first layer of finish on Sunday morning. After having no finish on the deck for WAY too long, it was amazing how nice it looked!


I let the first round of finish dry until there were no damp spots then applied the second coat and let that dry overnight.


Tada! A freshly updated deck in a weekend! Now to add some pretty things...