Belt Sander or Orbital Sander

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Old 02-15-12, 04:28 PM
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Belt Sander or Orbital Sander

Well I just joined the ranks of all the homeowners and bought a house. Well I am new to this do-it-yourself stuff, but I am wanting to learn and have the gratification of accomplishing some home projects. I just bought a 2 story home that has a deck that comes off my master bedroom off the second floor. My house was built on 04, so the deck itself has some weather to it, and so I am wanting to strip the deck of the faded / peeling white paint and repaint it.

My question is that I bought a belt sander, and I am curious to know should I have bought a an orbital / palm sander instead. I know what the procedure is to re-doing a deck. Wash the deck, make sure the deck is free of debris, make sure it's dry Sand the deck with a corse, then a medium, and then a light grade paper.

I am just concerned I bought the wrong tool for the job. Any advise is much appreciated.
 
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Old 02-15-12, 04:47 PM
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Happily I've never gone to the back breaking work that you are taking on! If I was doing a large deck, I'd probably rent a floor sander, and knock out the majority of it with that. If you don't want to rent and you have your knee pads ready, the belt sander will be your best bet. Be sure you keep the sander moving because you'll put some pretty bad grooves in the deck if you don't. Belt sanders are very aggressive, esp with a 60 grit belt! You "might" benefit from an orbital sander (round) to get up closer to posts and other vertical surfaces.

I don't think that you have to do a course, medium and fine sanding on a deck. This isn't like refinishing a kitchen table. (you didn't say how you intend to refinish it) Your initial sanding will probably vary depending on what it takes to get the paint off. 60 or 80 IMO. If you use 60, you will want to follow it up with 80. Provided you go with the grain, that will probably be as fine as you need to go. There would certainly be no need to give it more than a quick sanding with 120.. if you are just going to repaint I wouldn't even do that. (You might find out that 80 grit will strip the paint and leave the surface as smooth as it needs to be without any additional sanding... just depends how easy the paint comes off.) An orbital (round) might be nice if you want to get in tighter to vertical surfaces. If your handrail is tight to the deck you'll have trouble getting any kind of sander under there.

Be sure you set any nails so that they are below the surface or you will go through a lot of sandpaper. If the deck is screwed, you might need to check all the heads and give some of them an additional turn.

There isn't any kind of dust that's good to breathe, but keep in mind that if your deck is made of treated wood, it can be especially hazardous to breathe. Be sure you are wearing the proper PPE.
 
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Old 02-16-12, 03:38 AM
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I've stained a lot decks and have never seen the need to sand any of them [other than handrails] unless someone really boogered it up with a pressure washer.

Generally all that is needed is a good cleaning and then you can reapply the stain. Hopefully your deck was stained and not painted. Paint requires a primer and while it may last a little longer will usually require scraping and priming prior to recoating.

If you want to drastically change the look of the deck [going from solid stain to translucent or semi-transparent] I'd suggest using a deck stripper [paint stripper if it isn't stain] then clean. You can finish up with a deck brightener if needed.

btw - welcome to the forums!
 
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Old 02-16-12, 10:02 AM
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Thanks guys for the good advise... Unfortunately my deck was painted.... but the paint has pretty much has come off, and or faded in some areas of the deck. I will make sure I am wearing the proper PPE, and I will make sure I keep the the sander moving. Thanks for the advise all.
 
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Old 02-16-12, 10:22 AM
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If the paint has mostly come off, you might try starting with 120 grit.
 
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Old 02-17-12, 05:09 PM
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I'm with Marksr -- I've never seen a need to sand a deck unless somebody messed it up with a PW. Sounds like that's not your problem. Rather than sanding, SCRAPE the areas where the paint is peeling to get the loose paint off. Then prime the bare spots and repaint the deck. Maybe even a paint stripper if you are so inclined. (Just be careful about what below the deck that you'll be dripping it on -- things like landscaping, another deck, a driveway, etc. -- and cover them as needed.

If you're really intent on using a sander, use a random orbit sander, starting with 120 grit pads and finishing with 150's. You don't need anything more aggresive or anything finer than that. It's a deck, not a cabinet or a piece of furniture. Anything more aggresive than 120 grit will be tough on the wood fibers, and anything finer than 150 grit isn't needed.
 
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Old 03-02-12, 02:15 PM
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and orbital sander on an entire deck? wow I'd rather perform surgery on myself than do that

OP you have a few options

Just scrape what you can and paint over it, probably best bang for your buck if you value your time.

Don't forget about paint stripper, I use it a lot on detailed areas that can't be sanded, not sure how practical it is for you without seeing it.

Or you could just rent a floor sander from home depot. Don't be intimidated, they are easy to use. Would take maybe 30 minutes to do a 20 foot porch, with 3 different grits. If you were to take equal portions of wood. One with a belt sander, one with a floor sander, the floor sander would probably get the job done 20 times faster. They are awesome machines.
 
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Old 03-16-12, 05:19 AM
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The amount of sanding surely depends on the condition of the wood, and how weathered it is. If not splintered and relatively smooth, the finish of the wood should be comfortable when you're in your socks. If it grabs at you, start with 80 grit and be careful; if it does not, start with 100 grit belts. A 3X21 sander is common and less expensive, but a 4X24 would be a better choice for a deck, although less likely to be used in the future. Consider a rental. Either grit should give you a surface that is satisfactory, considering that you will want a very good primer and porch and floor paint. The paint job smoothes things out a lot! One good sanding pass should do the job!
 
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