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How to Remove Paint from a Wood Deck

Paints have a longer lifespan than stains do on decks, but eventually they too will chip, peel, and crack too. It is simple to scrape and sand just the affected section of your wood deck if the damage is confined to a small area. Failures on a larger scale call for a more in-depth approach; as a result, you should seriously consider working with a seasoned expert. The following information will assist you in removing the paint from your wooden deck.

Common Methods of Removing Paint from a Deck

Paint can be removed in a number of ways, including mechanically by scraping, power washing, and sanding the deck, or chemically by using paint strippers. Chemical strippers and power washers are the tools of choice for deck maintenance professionals because they are significantly more efficient and require significantly less manual labor than strictly mechanical approaches.

Chemical Methods

Paint strippers penetrate the wood grain better than scraping and sanding do, and these products have come a long way since the days when methylene chloride was the only option available. Look for formulations that are water-soluble, low in volatile organic compounds (VOC), and don't emit any unpleasant odors. At the same time, check to see that the paint remover has sufficient strength to break down the paint. Paint is typically more resistant compared to an average stain.

Mechanical Methods

It is possible to strip deck paint without the use of chemicals, but doing so requires significantly more labor. In addition, sanding is an inevitable step in the completion of any project. Even though using a power washer can save a lot of time, you shouldn't count on it to remove paint that hasn't been treated. A belt sander, random orbital sander, angle grinder, and/or power planers are better choices. Heat guns are less desirable. Keep in mind that the majority of deck boards are softwood that has been treated with pressure, regardless of the tool you use. Avoid leaving deep scuffs or divots.

Materials Needed

Find out how big your deck is in square feet to figure out how much paint stripper and cleaner/neutralizer to buy. Check how much sandpaper you have and see if you can rent or borrow a power washer if you don't already have one. Or, you can just use a garden hose with a jet nozzle on the end. Put on gloves, safety glasses, and a mask to protect your eyes, skin, and lungs.

  • Long-sleeve shirt

  • Safety glasses

  • Rubber gloves

  • Mask or respirator

  • Stripper suitable for paint

  • Cleaner/neutralizer

  • Scraper(s)

  • Putty knife

  • Pressure washer or garden hose

  • Paint brush

  • Garden sprayer

  • Random orbital sander

  • Detail sander

  • Sandpaper (variety of grits)

  • Nylon-bristle brush

  • Shop vacuum

  • Leaf blower

  • Wood putty

Step-by-step Guide to Remove Paint from Deck

Removing paint from a deck is a big chore. Plan your work, stage the materials, and take it one step at a time.

Step 1: Prep Your Deck

After getting rid of furniture, potted plants, and other things on the deck, check it for rot and make any repairs that are needed. Fix any nails or screws that have come loose. Next, use a hand scraper to take off the most flaking paint. Last, use a tarp to cover nearby shrubs and poly film and tape to cover the siding and trim of the house.

Step 2: Apply Paint Stripper to Deck

Paint strippers are usually either a gel that you apply with a paint brush or roller or a liquid that you dilute and apply with a garden sprayer. Gels tend to stick better and keep their moisture better. Don't put too little stripper on, but don't be careless either. Work in small pieces, no bigger than 10 feet by 10 feet. If some spots are drying too quickly, add more strippers or spray them with water.

Step 3: Remove Paint from Deck

Follow the instructions from the paint stripper's maker and give it a lot of time to work. Test a few spots every so often to see how well the paint comes off. If you are using a power washer, don't use too much pressure or get too close to the wood.

The easiest way is to use a putty knife to scrape off most of the paint and then scrub with a nylon brush with stiff bristles. The best time to use this method is when the surface is still wet. Using a power washer is faster, but some people would rather not have to deal with all the equipment and hoses.

It's not hard to get paint off the top of deck boards. It takes more work to get paint off the edges, sides, and railings of the deck boards. Don't try too hard to get every last drop. If the old finish is still sticking well, you can just paint over it.

Step 4: Rinse Deck and Let Dry

Rinse the deck with clean water or use a cleaner brightener/neutralizer to get rid of the paint stripper residue, then rinse. Let the deck dry completely. Depending on the weather and other factors, this could take a few days.

Step 5: Sand and Prep Deck for New Finish

Use a belt sander, an angle grinder, or a random orbital sander if the paint stripper, power washer, and nylon brush didn't remove enough paint. A good way to get rid of any fuzzy wood fibers left behind after pressure washing is to use an orbital sander. Make sure you choose the right size of grit. You shouldn't have to go any finer than 150. Use a leaf blower or shop vacuum and a mask or respirator to get rid of dust. Last, use wood putty to fill any holes, and your deck is ready to be stained or painted.

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