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Best Deck Stain Strippers

Prior to staining a wood deck it is necessary to properly clean the wood for the best results. Removing all the dirt, mold, mildew, and graying will help the new deck stain to penetrate better and last longer.

When dealing with a deck that has an old failing deck stain on it, a simple wood cleaning is not enough. In this case a deck stain stripper must be used to emulsify and soften the old stain so it can be removed more easily. Wood stain strippers are more aggressive than a typical wood cleaner.

Some of the best deck stain strippers that we have found contain a mixture of Sodium Hydroxide and other surfactants and typically come in a concentrated powder formula. Once mixed with water they can be applied using a pump sprayer.

Best Deck Strippers Tested To Date:

To get the best results using a wood stain stripper you need to let the product dwell for several minutes after applying it to the wood. This allows the stain stripper to penetrate and breakdown the old stain. The amount of dwell time depends on the type of existing stain. For instance most semi-transparent oil based stains will remove more easily than a semi-solid deck stain.

For hard to remove stains such as acrylic or silicone based stains, several applications and longer dwell times may be necessary. In extreme cases when dealing with a solid deck stain or paint, some sanding may be needed to fully remove the existing stain.

Once the failing deck stain seems to have been softened it is best removed with a power washer using light to moderate pressure. The caustic stripper will raise the pH level of the wood during the stripping process causing it to appear very dark. Following the stripping process with an application of wood deck brightener will restore the pH and brighten the wood. This brightening process should not be skipped. It is a crucial step to getting optimal results from the new deck stain and a more natural appearance.

Using a quality wood deck stain stripper will give you the best chance of removing the existing deck stain. Once the old stain is gone the new deck stain can fully penetrate the wood for maximum protection and lasting results.

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52 responses to “Best Deck Stain Strippers”

  1. cia says:

    I have a 2 story deck. that has failed in 6 mos. Sikkens. it was a new deck. If I use a stripper won't it drip down and make a mess of the verticles, which are ok.We need to do the deck floors only. Can I sand and power wash the top deck?HELP!

    • Cia, You can sand with 60 grit then wash the deck with a deck cleaner when done. It would be best though to remove all of the Sikkens with the stripper and start over from scratch.

  2. JVS says:

    I have a mahogany deck and I am not sure if this initially had a solid stain or a semi-transparent one. The deck is over 10 years old and the wood is in good condition. I am looking for a good wood stripper for mahogany and dont want to pressure wash it yet, Was wondering if you could give me some suggestions.

    • JVS, all strippers typically need to be pressure washed off. Nothing removes a solid stain effectively. Sorry but there is not a good answer for you without knowing if it is a semi-trans or not.

  3. SJK says:

    First, thank you for all the great information on this site – it is amazing! I have a two month old PTP boat dock in Tampa, Florida that gets nearly 24/7 sun exposure. The dock contractor sealed everything with clear Thompson's water seal – which I now know from reading this site is the worst possible choice. The dock also has a number of rough edges that I wanted to sand down so it is smooth to the touch. Based upon my review of the various articles and comments on the site, I just wanted to confirm that the following would be the best choice of action: (1) sand with a random orbital sander using 60 grit paper to smooth out rough sections, (2) apply Restore-A-Deck Stripper to remove Thompson's, (3) apply Restore-A-Deck Brightener, and (4) apply any color of Armstrong-Clark Semi-Transparent Stain. My main concern is that the Restore-A-Deck Stripper will remove the Thompson's water seal, and that you would recommend the Armstrong-Clark product over the Defy Extreme product given the newness of the dock and the fact that it likely will get applied in direct sunlight. Thank you!!

  4. SJK says:

    Thank you for the advice – we will definitely go with the Armstong Clark semi-solid mountain cedar color for the UV protection.

  5. Jan Wyland says:

    Unfortunately, we were talked into using a latex deck paint which started chipping in one year. What would be the best way to get the deck in condition to stain. We live in Alaska and have heavy snow and ice. Thank you!

  6. josie says:

    We had contractors stain our deck with the translucent Australia timber oil 3 summers ago and now we need to prepare the deck for a restain with a different translucent stain. My husband just used deck cleaner because we had some green mold. Then use the brightener afterwards. Now we are thinking we should have used a stripper instead in order to get rid of the areas where the stain has oxidized and turned a darker color. What to do next?

  7. Brian Kluth says:

    Ok, I have been reading over your posts and still need a little bit more clarity. We have a small fence restoration business ( We pressure wash and stain fences in Colorado. We ONLY use Behr Premium Plus solid stains because the color lasts/holds 5+ years (from our experience) in the harsh sunlight climate we have here. We have 2 jobs that were done in the past where the Behr solid color stain has pealed or flaked off. We're doing to apply a new solid stain over the top of this. But before we do it, we want to apply some type of stripper that will loosen the old stain so we can scrape it, wire brush it, or power wash off the old stuff. I read many reviews and still feel I need your advice on WHICH stripper to use in this situation AND any advice you have on the best way to apply and remove it.
    Thank you.

  8. Melissa says:

    Is it ok for the deck stain stripper to get on the vinyl siding of the house. Will it cause any damage? thank you!

  9. Sal says:

    We live in Chicago and have flat roof decks that were placed over rubber membranes. If we used Deck Stain Stripper will it damage the rubber membrane below the decking?

  10. Ruth Ann says:

    Will the Deck Stain Stripper damage painted aluminum siding?

  11. barry lawson says:

    used behr semi transparent deck stain, lasted 2 yrs. now need to start over. live in alberta, canada. what stripper should we use and will it effect vinyl siding if splashed on it.

  12. marjham says:

    We sanded down second second story stairs and stained with semi-transparent stain. We had a brutal winter, and now the railing and steps are peeling like crazy. I am wondering if, in the process of using using Deck Stain Stripper, will it it be a problem for the ground-level renter below (her entrance is directly below our porch and stairs). In other words, will power-washing this product off damage grass/shrubs/garden which will most certainly be subject to the effects of the rinsing process. Additionally, does the product have any toxic effects that should be considered as to where the "grey water" of the power wash drains/soaks into the ground? Thanks.

  13. Elvin G. Miali says:

    Major problem. Just used "one time," wood stain on my newly built outdoor bench and the color is not as advertised. It ruined the project. How do you recommend I remove this product. Instead of a honey color it is a neon orange.
    Any help appreciated

    • Did the OneTime dry or is it still tacky? This will not be easy to get off. May need to strip and sand to get it all off. Try the Restore A Deck Stain Stripper and pressure washing.

  14. Jessica F. says:

    We need help! The previous owner applied a semi-transparent stain. We had hoped to remove that (ugly) stain color and reapply with a transparent stain. We first power washed it to get the loose stain off, then we tried a stripper called ABR Fast stripper. It just muddied the color and made the wood fuzzy and damaged looking. My husband and has now sanded off the stain which has taken a million man hours! We have a 500 sq ft deck and he has removed about 70% of the stain, but there are still areas we can't get the stain off. Deep crevices in the wood and hard to reach corners, etc. Any suggestions? Do we need to give in and out on another semi-transparent stain? Will it need to be darker than the original (brick red) color in order to cover it? Some local places have said to use a solid stain, but I'm worried we'll be in the same situation 3 years from now. Help!!!

    • Do not use a solid. Try to get off close to 95% of the current stain so the new stain will work correctly. Best to strip as much as possible first and sand after to remove rest and smooth the fuzzies as well. Semi-transparents will not cover the existing but possibly will blend.

  15. Lisa Cannon says:

    While staining the cedar shakes on the second story of our home, a bucketful of stain (it is mixed with linseed oil) fell and splattered the deck below. We immediately cleaned the area with a diluted solution of bleach and scrub brush. The oils have dissipated, but the stain remains. The decking is pressure treated lumber… Not new, but it's been cared for over the years with annual cleaning and sealing with transparent deck sealant. Suggestion as to how to remove the stain? Thanks!

  16. loo says:

    We have a 17 y/0 deck that gets full sun. Used Thompson's water seal for 10 yrs reapplying yearly. Last 7 yrs used Behr semi transparent stain. We power washed ONLY as a prep 3yrs ago before reapplying. Stain is faded, very little left and blotchy, wood looks old and cracked. We live in Arkansas. What steps do we take to prep this time and what product would you recommend? Not crazy about solid paint look.

    • You will need to remove the layers of Behr first. We would strip off as much as we can with either HD80 or the Restore A deck stripper, sand the stubborn areas, and brighten all when done. Stain with TWP 100 Series.

  17. Erin says:

    We had contractors come out to stain our new deck after 2 1/2 months. The wood still had mill glaze on it and we asked them to prep it before hand. No prep was done to the deck and they sprayed 12 gallons of Sherwin Williams Deckscapes semi-transparent in Yankee Barn on the deck (about 400 sq feet top and bottom) in 4 hours. It has been 3 days and the deck is not dry, the color is opaque, and it is uneven and missing gaps in some places. We had the contractor come out and he said he could strip it in a week and re stain. We are afraid of using him again and have contacted some other people as well.

    I am worried about having him "redo" the job. Does the stain need to completely dry before trying to remove and can you get 12 gallons off the deck successfully to re-stain. We sickened over the whole thing and hope to salvage the looks and protect our new deck.

    • This will not strip off easily. They applied way to much stain. You can try and see if they can get it off but if they do not remove all of it, I would strongly suggest you do not proceed. Strip what you can now, let weather for the Winter, strip again in Spring until all is removed. Switch brands as well.

  18. Josh says:

    I just stained my deck with a semi trans stain and it looks awful. My dad told me I should have waited a year but the builder told me it was okay. It's extremely uneven and I don't know what to do. I think the wood isn't absorbing the stain. I tried sanding it but it didn't really change much. I bought a new Behr Stain Remover and applied it only to watch it so NOTHING! I am lost and am looking for advice. I am thinking of covering it with a solid deck stain… Is that angood move ?

  19. ann says:

    i am having a very hard time locating where to buy the recommended stripper products- restore-a-deck, defy and HD80. Are they sold at any bigger name stores?

  20. Alyson says:

    Can the stripping be done in any weather (i.e. rainy, cold)?

  21. Mary says:

    Four years ago my new pressure treated wood deck was stained with Behr's Semi Transparent Weather Proofing Wood Stain 1 month after construction. One year later there was a white exudate coming through the stain. These areas were scraped by the original painting contractor and then Sherwin Williams Deckscapes Solid Deck Stain was applied. Since that time the deck has been plagued with algae, black mildew stains and continued white exudates appearing on some boards. The deck was not stripped between the applications of the two different products.
    Is there a deck stain remover/stripper that will remove all the product that has been applied? What would be the best product to use? Will it be likely that the wood will need to be sanded to remove the solid wood stain that had been applied? Given that the original new deck was stained so soon after the original construction, how much time should elapse prior to applying a new product? What would be the best product to use to stain the deck this time around?

    • Not deck stain stripper will remove a solid stain that is applied on top of the Behr. It may remove some, but sanding will be required to remove all. Once removed by sanding, clean and brighten the wood for final prep and try the TWP stains.

  22. Kristin says:

    I have a Redwood deck that we applied a Super Deck Semi- Solid stain to 2 years ago. The stain is now showing wear and mold mildew issues. We sanded the entire deck yesterday and most of the stain came off. We are planning on applying a TWP Semi Transparent, but the store that sells the TWP is aprox. 1.5 hours away…
    Is it recommended/okay to use the Super Deck Stripper and Brightener prior to applying the TWP stain, since I can find that product locally?

    Thank you!

  23. Jfc says:

    We have Cabot silicone based waterproofing sealer on our deck? Want to replace with a Cabot semitransparent stain.
    Will any of the strippers remove the prior cabot sealer effectively?

  24. Donna says:

    I stained my deck with ZAR semitransparent stain yesterday and it is still tacky. Should I strip it and start all over. I just bought the house and the previous owners left a can of ZAR semitransparent stain so I bought the same one. I power washed the deck 2 weeks ago to prepare it and give it time to dry. I have no idea what I did wrong.

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*This is first and foremost a help site from our experience as wood restoration contractors. All stain and prepping manufacturer directions were followed with our reviews and ratings. We offer no guarantee of similar results. Take inconsideration that wood and deck stain results may differ due to prepping procedures, different wood types, exposure to UV radiation, natural weathering, etc.