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Deck Stain Help Articles
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Exterior Wood and Deck Restoration Help Articles

Deck Staining Advice and Tips Deck Cleaning Advice and Tips Deck Brighting Advice and Tips Deck Stain Stripping Advice and Tips

Category: Deck Stripping


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.

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The difference between deck cleaning and deck stain stripping is simple. With deck cleaning you are simply washing the wood to remove any dirt, grime, mildew, and graying. With deck stripping the same contaminants are removed but you are also removing any old remnants of deck stain. In many cases deck stain stripping is better because you are removing old deck stain in addition to other contaminants like dirt and graying.

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Stripping an Old Deck Stain

Failing Deck Stain

When it comes to restoring an older wood deck, it’s extremely important to prep the wood correctly. Not doing so can lead to premature failure of the new deck stain. No matter the brand or cost of a deck stain, it will not last as long as it should if it isn’t applied to a perfectly cleaned and prepped surface.

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Moldy Deck
Moldy Deck

BlackĀ  Deck Stain

Why Did Your Deck Stain Turn Black?

Many things can happen to a deck stain when it is not applied or maintained properly. The biggest reason for a deck stain turning black is mildew. All wood surfaces need to be cleaned correctly prior to staining. The use of a quality wood cleaner and pressure washer or scrub brush is necessary to remove all the contaminants like dirt, grime, mold, mildew, and graying.

When contaminants are left in the wood pores and stain is applied a whole host of problems can occur. Mildew can begin to grow underneath the deck stain, which causes discoloring. This can also lead to rot and decay because if there is mildew there is also moisture present.

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How to Change From Water Based to Oil Based Exterior Decking Stain and Vice Versa

The longevity of a deck or other exterior wood structure depends highly on how well it is maintained. A wood surface left alone or neglected will not last long in the harsh environment. Wood needs to be sealed and protected from moisture, UV rays, mold, mildew and such contaminants that will cause rot and decay. The most common types of wood protectants are oil and water based.

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Peeling Solid Deck Stain
Removing a Solid Deck Stain

Peeling Solid Deck Stain

Help With Removing a Solid Deck Stain

Once a deck has been stained with a heavy pigmented or solid stain it can be hard to maintain. Solid deck stains are like paint in that they form a film on the wood surface to provide weather protection. Once it is time for maintenance, a cleaning and recoat are necessary. After several years the solid stain begins to buildup and has trouble adhering, thus it begins to peel and flake constantly.

To stop this negative effect from occurring, or to switch from one deck stain to another, it is best to remove the solid deck stain completely and start with bare wood again. But removing a solid deck stain takes patience and a little bit of work.

To remove a solid deck stain you need to use a deck stain remover. Stain strippers contain aggressive ingredients to help break through and soften tough to remove deck stains. Once the stain begins to emulsify it can then be pressure washed off.

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For the best results when cleaning and maintaining a wood deck, removing all the old deck stain is crucial. Deck stain is meant to penetrate into wood to provide protection. When an old stain remains on the wood it prevents any new stain from penetrating. The newer stain will instead remain atop the old stain and will be prone to peeling and flaking.

To ensure the new deck stain dives into the wood and provides adequate weather protection, any existing deck stain must be removed. During the wood cleaning process a deck stain remover should be used. When using a deck stain remover it is not necessary to use a deck cleaner. The deck stain remover will not only remove old stains but dirt, grime, mildew, and graying as well.

There are many types of deck stain removers on the market. Liquid and powdered forms are the most common. The liquid forms are usually ready to apply while the concentrated powder forms require mixing with water.

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Deck Stain Stripping vs. Deck Cleaning

Knowing the difference between deck stain stripping and deck cleaning can be vital to your deck maintenance or restoration project. It’s important first to understand why cleaning a wood surface is necessary.

Besides the obvious of overall appearance and curb appeal, a wood deck should be cleaned and sealed every couple of years to prevent structural damage. Water and moisture wreak havoc on wood inviting mold and mildew which can lead to wood rot. The sun’s U.V. rays also damage wood fibers and turn them an unsightly gray. In colder climates freeze/thaw occurrences can warp, crack, and split boards ruining a deck in no time.

By cleaning the wood and protecting it with a quality wood stain, you are locking out moisture, blocking sun rays, and protecting the deck from the environment. This ensures a better overall appearance and a longer lasting wood structure.

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Deck Stain FailureThere are many types of Exterior Wood Deck Stains on the market. They range from slightly pigmented sealers to solid color stains. One thing is for certain, they all fail after years of neglect, rain, snow, and UV degradation. In many cases it is possible to use a deck cleaner and re-coat over an old stain. This is not practical though if the old stain has failed by wearing unevenly, peeled or if switching brands of stains. In these cases you will need to use a Deck Stain Stripper. Stain strippers contain a more aggressive “caustic” then a typical deck cleaner. This caustic breakdowns the bond between the cellular structure of the wood and the old stain. This makes removal of the stain easier with scrubbing or a light pressure wash.

Theses are basic steps needed to strip a failed deck stain:

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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.