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Deck renewal using floor sander

Community Manager
Community Manager
Community Manager

Sanding back your timber deck before re-staining it can help give it a new lease of life. 




The project


The deck is around 10 years old and looking pretty shabby. The timber is Merbau but I wasn't sure what the original coating put on the deck was - something with a coating that peeled off in parts (as opposed to an oil).


Subsequent oiling never got a brilliant result despite how much I scrubbed and blasted with the pressure cleaner - it was clear that a full sand back to the bare timber was needed.


In preparation for hiring a floor sander I purchased an orbital sander and sanded back the edge around the perimeter of the deck with 40 grit paper. With our cedar battens (railings) it was clear that the floor sander wasn't going to be able to get into the corners and along the edge of the deck.  It's hard work on the hands and knees but I was happy with the initial results, giving me confidence that the deck was going to come up well after the job was complete. Here's a rough example:




I hired a floor sander for the job. They are heavy beasts but surprisingly easy to use. It's a job anyone can do - even those with limited skills like me! Again I used 40 grit paper for the first sand, then went over again with an 80 grit. 



The floor sander is a big heavy machine and a little intimidating. I got confidence from the fact that if I botched it I could always replace some decking boards as they are not expensive! But it really wasn't difficult at all and in no time I could see a vast improvement. 




The final step in the sanding process was to get the orbital sander out again with the 80 grit paper and tidy up any spots that were a little rough or needed a little more work. 




After cleaning up (getting rid of any sawdust that might contaminate the surface) I started oiling the deck. I got two coats done that weekend and a third the following week. I used Intergrain Ultradeck in Merbau. 


It was a big improvement and a project well worth doing. I was really pleased with the end result. 


The stairs leading up to the deck suddenly looked very shabby in comparison to the deck itself so I got cracking on them next with the orbital sander. I also borrowed a multi-tool to do the edges and can now see why people rave about them.  


Before and after




How to 


Although the Bunnings How-to video below is showing how to sand internal floors, I found it was a great help for my project as the same principles apply to the timber deck. 



However, please note that the drum sanders available for hire in Bunnings stores are not suitable for use on decks. For any exterior decking projects, the Orbital sander available for hire is the correct choice as it has a sturdier head which is ideal for decking.


Before sanding your deck, all nails should be checked to make sure they are below the surface of the boards. Any protruding nails should be punched below the deck surface.


The state of your deck's timber is also important to assess. If they are weathered, the edges can start to split. Any boards that are damaged with sharp edges or splinters should be replaced before commencing sanding.


Tips for your deck renewal project


As previously mentioned, preparation is important. Make sure you get all the nail heads down well under the timber surface. Replacing the sanding belts gets expensive and can take a while (I was using strips rather than the easier circular ones shown in the video) and obviously you also risk damaging the machine or worse if you hit a nail. 


Go with the grain and be really slow and cautious when "dropping" the sander onto the wood. I found it to be the only time you risked sanding unevenly and gouging out a trench. The model I hired didn't have a lever to drop the drum like in the video - this would have been very helpful.


I was (probably very naively) surprised at how quickly the machine wanted to scurry along. You do need to hold it back and go reasonably slowly for an even result.  And obviously don't go backwards, always forwards!


Replace the paper dust collection bag well before its full. If they tear then dust flies everywhere!


More inspiration for your decking projects 


Bunnings Workshop members keen for more inspiration for their decking projects should check out our Top 10 most popular deck projects.


Making a Splash

Looks great. Love the before & after photos. What a great transformation 

Home Improvement Guru

Afternoon @Jason 

Big difference between the before and after, makes me consider sanding back my deck. Why is it there is never enough time for all the projects we want to do! :smile:

I like your explanation, makes it sound easier to do then what I was thinking.



Just Starting Out

Hi All,


I'm trying to renew my deck after 1 year of installation. I couldn't stain for last 12 months as I spilled some BBQ oil when it was installed new 😏 and only got rid of recently. 


My problem is I can see some boards have some splintering. You can see with attached pictures.


So I decided to go ahead with sanding and bought the cheapest belt sander from Bunnings. But I'm not sure if the belt sander will be too much for the job and whether I should go for Random Orbital sander instead.


My deck is partially uncovered from alfresco therefore the uneven weathering on deck is quite obvious.


Kindly advise the best course of action and which sander to go for - belt sander vs random orbital sander.  


Before vs After belt sanding a splintered spotBefore vs After belt sanding a splintered spot

Deck area - partially uncoveredDeck area - partially uncoveredSplinteredSplinteredSplinteredSplinterednon-Smooth deck boardnon-Smooth deck boardSplinteredSplintereduneven weathered deckuneven weathered deck



Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Hello @melloR 


I suggest hiring a large drum sander from the store and using that to reface the surface of your deck. A drum sander would produce a uniform result because of its weight and width.  


A belt sander would be handy for edge of your deck, but if there are splinters and cracks it would be better to use a large sander. A hand rotary sander would take you too long to sand the surface of your deck.


If you need further assistance, please let me know.




Just Starting Out

Hi @EricL,


Many thanks for your feedback.


Just want to check that @Jason has mentioned in above post that that drum sander is not suitable to use on decks. He recommends using an Orbital sander available for hire. 


Could you please advise ?


Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Hello @melloR 


I've just been advised by our hire team, and they suggest that for any exterior decking projects, the Orbital sander available for hire is the correct choice as it has a sturdier head which is ideal for decking. The drum sanders for hire in the stores are not suitable for exterior decking projects. My apologies if this has caused you any inconvenience.


Just a friendly reminder before you start sanding to make sure that all the screw and nail heads have been re-tightened and tap down to prevent tearing the sand pads off.


If you need further assistance, please let us know.




Just Starting Out

Thanks @EricL. Really appreciate the advice.

Just Starting Out

Hi all, quick question. After sanding a deck, do I wash it again or just carefully sweep before applying stain?

Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Welcome to the Bunnings Workshop community @anilj. It's sensational to have you join us, and many thanks for your question about restoring a deck.

Once you have sanded and swept the deck, look at the timber. If it is covered in dirt and debris that was tracked across it during the sanding process, then you should wash and scrub it down to remove it. Otherwise, you'll be free to sweep the deck and oil it. If you wash it down, you'll need to wait at least 72 hours for the timber to completely dry out before applying your oil.

Please let me know if you have any questions.


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