Deck Sanding Vs Chemical Stripping Decks – 3 Things You Must Consider



If your reviewing your options of deck sanding vs chemical stripping agents your deck has most likely suffered from years of neglect and is showing advanced signs of wear from the harsh UV rays mixed with foot traffic and general use.

If you visit your local paint store or hardware shop you will be advised best practice will be to remove your existing coatings prior to doing any form of oiling or staining of your deck.


Which of course leads you here!


Please refer to the below 3 different examples of the category’s that externals timbers will generally fall under followed by suggested treatments to restore your timber.


In almost all instance sanding back your deck to bare timber will give you the best results when compared to stripping agents but the cost factor and job site surrounds will need to be taken into consideration when making your final decision.

Oxalic acid wash

weather deck after high pressure clean and acid wash


Scenario 1. Old deck – No sign of any existing coatings – decking timbers are now grey and has signs off mold/stains from pots etc.

In this instance more often than not the decking will respond very well to a combination of high-pressure treatments (no more than 1000 PSI) coupled with various chemical treatments.minimize the chance of ripping apart your timber. The acid treatment will help act as a timber brightener and neutralize mould mildew that has set in the timber. (Refer to the above picture for an example)

faded decking coating

example of patchy decking coating

Scenario 2. You have no idea what has been used in the past but the existing coatings are patchy in areas.

Depending on if you have sensitive surfaces surrounding the deck such as render walls and the likes will determine if strippers are even an option at this point. If you render free we recommend purchasing a deck stripping agent and trialling the product on an area of your deck that still has a buildup of existing coatings. If you are satisfied with the appearance of the timber after the stipping agent followed by an acid wash you are on the right path.

If the stripping agent does not have the desired effect on stripping the existing coating the deck MUST be sanded back to reveal raw timber – its usually at this point that we would run with a series of chemical treatments to lift contaminants from the timber before putting down any protective coatings. (CAUTION – Make sure you remove the stripping agent and neutralize with an acid wash so you don’t damage your timber)


crack/peeling deck coating

flaking deck coating in need of a good deep sand

Scenario 3. The existing coating is cracking/peeling

In this scenario this tells us some form of acrylic or film based coating like Sikkens has been used – in almost all instances stripping agents is a waste of time and sanding is most definitely going to yield the best results.


Scenario 4. New deck – You have recently had a deck built

Click here for an in-depth guide on how to prepare a new deck for oiling. Failing to follow these instructions will potentially result in thousands of dollars of repairs that could have been avoided.


Final Rehash

– Always trial stripping products on a small area before using on the whole deck to test their effectiveness.
– Acid wash should always be a final step of preparation after sanding or using stripping agents
– Sanding will give the best results!


We hope you have found this article helpful for a general diagnosis of your decking timbers – If you have any further questions don’t hesitate to ask!



If you would like a FREE QUOTE call us on 1300 363 478 or submit your details online.


We service all over Victoria but have been known to do jobs interstate if enough work is involved.

If you have a new Spotted Gum decking to be oiled you may find this article of use to you.




Recent deck restorations