Preparing Your Naples, Florida-Area Dock or Deck for Refinishing
Given their vertical exposure to the elements, southwest Florida-area docks and decks tend to need refinishing more often than other exterior surfaces. Constant exposure to the sun, rainfall, sea air, and other elements discolors the wood. While this might only be an aesthetic concern, nature and time will eventually spur mold and mildew growth. This can cause cracking and warping, promote wood rot, and cause other forms of deterioration.
Prolong the Lifespan of Your Dock or Deck
The professionals at Naples-based FCI Painting will tell you that the easiest way to boost the lifespan of your dock or deck. Keep it clean and reapply stain, paint or other sealants annually. Absent such basic maintenance, dock and deck refinishing can often make your dock or deck’s weathered surface look like new. If there is significant deterioration or damage, you may need to replace some wood or otherwise fix problem areas. Typical problems and their fixes include:
- Wood rot—While docks tend to be more susceptible to this than decks, no matter where it’s found, remove it and replace it with new lumber. At best, trying to refinish such areas will only mask the problem, which will continue to expand.
- Warping and bending—You can try to fix warped boards by using a bar clamp and pounding in more nails. It’s generally easier to replace any affected boards.
- Splitting and Splintering— You’ll need to replace any splitting or splintering boards. Such boards will continue to degrade and can also prove hazardous.
- Foundation damage—Seawater makes this a more significant problem with docks. Deck posts can also deteriorate at and below ground level. For safety and to prolong the life of your structure, always replace support beams and posts at the first sign of damage.
- Rust stains—These will inevitably arise wherever metal meets the wood. If home-based remedies that use vinegar or other cleaners don’t work, consider cleaning it with a commercial rust removal product.
- Loose screws, nails, or other hardware—remove and replace.
Steps for Prepping your Dock or Deck for Refinishing
You’ve already taken the first steps for prepping your dock or deck for refinishing by addressing the potential damage listed above, right? Well, with a few more steps, you will be ready to begin refinishing.
First, strip and remove any old peeling, chipped sealants and then clean the dock or deck surfaces with a scrub brush and soap. Alternatively, you can tackle this job using a pressure washer but use a fan-tip nozzle and keep the pressurized spray at least a foot away from the surface to avoid damaging the wood. You should also keep the pressure below 600 psi if the wood is made from softwood like pine or cedar.
To ensure optimal penetration and adhesion of your chosen stain or sealant, lightly sand surfaces of any newly installed wood, rough patches, or areas still showing staining or other residues. Your last step should be removing any wood dust from the sanding by using a shop-vac, leaf blower or broom.
You’re Now Ready to Apply the Stain, Paint or Sealant
With the prep work steps concluded, you’ll now turn to the actual refinishing.
While you can certainly paint your dock or deck, FCI Painting would recommend a stain instead. This holds especially true for docks, which typically endure more weathering. The weathering will be more noticeable over time with paint than a stain. Additionally, not only do stains hold up much better to foot traffic, but they can highlight the beauty of the wood used for your dock or deck. If you do decide to go with paint, make sure you choose one marketed as a “deck” or “porch” paint. These are tougher than regular paints and should provide some level of slip resistance. Deck sealers are clear and used primarily for extending the wood’s life span rather than for aesthetic reasons.
Whichever refinishing product you choose, carefully read the instructions for applying it. Drying and curing times vary widely. Some products should not be applied in direct sunlight as it dries before proper penetration. Instructions also provide other tips for ensuring the best application for the particular paint, stain, or sealant.
Or Consult with a Professional Naples, FL Painting Company
If this dock/deck refinishing prep work seems like too much effort and you would like to secure the most professional-looking results possible, consult with FCI Painting. We have more than 25 years of professional experience helping Naples, Florida-area residents refinish their docks, decks and other outside structures. To learn more, contact FCI Painting online or give us a call at (239) 435-1001.