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Deck Stain Removers

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.
Deck stain removers can be applied to most any exterior wood surface or deck to aid in proper cleaning and prepping for stain. Stain removers are commonly applied using a garden type pump sprayer but may also be applied using a soft brush.

Deck stain removers are very aggressive and will emulsify most semi-transparent and semi-solid deck stains. For hard to remove stains several applications may be necessary. Deck stain removers may not remove all deck stains especially some solid stains or paints.

Deck stain remover is a great way to aid in proper cleaning and prepping wood for a new stain application. The lack of removing deck stains leads to excessive buildup, darkening, and peeling. Deck stain does not adhere well to other deck stain, so removing a failed deck stain prior to a new application is definitely the best option to ensure excellent results.

Always wear protective gear when handling any type of cleaner or stripper. Protect landscaping, windows, concrete and other non-targeted areas with plastic or tarps prior to cleaning. Follow the recommended directions per the product label for the best results. Use caution when cleaning wood with a pressure washing. Getting too close to the wood can cause permanent damage.

It is best to apply a wood brightener to the deck following cleaning or stripping. This will reverse the darkening effect on the wood and will ensure proper stain penetration.

Have A Question on Removing a Deck Stain? Ask Below.

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4.83/5 (6)


38 responses to “Deck Stain Removers”

  1. Tired Momma says:

    I used ONE TIME natural finish on mahogany decking 1×4 tongue and groove. We followed the manufacturer's directions, but the product failed to hold both a finish (flaking) and color (uneven fading/water spots). I have power washed the decking, but do not know how to remove the OneTime from the boards or what to use to NOW protect the boards and bring back the color. I think I am going to use TWP or Armstong Clark preservative. I would like to ask how to remove the ONE TIME an prep for the TWP or Armstrong Clark.

  2. Yariv says:

    I find your website to be extremely helpful, I have a new (2 month old) pressure treated pine deck and as recommended in this site I'm planning to use the Restore-A-Deck kit before staining for the first time. My question; I have grass and flowers bordering the deck, when rinsing these chemicals can they harm the greenery?

  3. janell says:

    I have a solid behr stain on my deck that I need to strip. I cant find the info here on what stripper works best for solid stain- any recommendations?

  4. GatorSig says:

    I have an older dock out over the water and for years used Olympic semi-transparent stain. Two years ago I switched to a Cabot semi-transparent oil-based stain, and have not been happy. I now am ready to re-stain the dock again, but need to strip the combination of old Olympic and Cabot stains off before applying a new stain. Any suggestions?

  5. Dave says:

    I've read comments thread and agree with all. It's unfortunate there are so many problems related to decks, particularly when it comes to removing old stain.
    My worst experiences have been decks I treated with Cabot SPF (since discontinued). After a coat or two nothing else will hold, no chemical removes and only recourse has been alot of deck sanding.

  6. Sharon says:

    we have a 2 yr old pressure treated wood porch that my husband painted Flood solid stain on and we want to remove it. We have tried the Flood wood finish remover and have gone through 2 gallons and does not seem to work all that well. Do u have any recommendations on what brand to use to finish. We live in Washington state at the base of Mt St Helens SW Washington where we get lots of rain and some snow. We do get some freezing temps in Jan-early March. Thank you for your quick response.

    • Sharon, no stain removers will remove a solid stain. You will need to sand it off.

    • Ritch says:

      I stripped Flood Deck and Spa 100% acrylic stain using Wolman's Acrylic Deck Stripper (ASR). It was difficult and time consuming, but I got it done. I had to use several applications, kept it covered with plastic, used a two hour dwell time and pressure washed. I then sanded it. It was a nightmare. Plus, the wood now won't consistently hold the new stain.

  7. Ritch says:

    In 2011 I stripped a 100% acrylic deck with Wolman's ASR. It required a lot of product to strip the acrylic, but I did it. I sanded, washed and used a brightener. I stained with One Time Deck Stain. After it cured, I noticed what appeared to be inconsistent saturation. In Jan 2013 I stripped my dock, sanded, washed & brightened. This time I waited a month before I stained thinking my deck problem was because I hadn't thoroughly rinsed the stripper. I applied Wood RX Ultra and now have the same problem: inconsistent saturation. The mgf thinks the wood won't accept the stain because it wasn't properly neutralized, but I used Restore-A-Deck brightener. Any idea what's causing this problem?

    • Ritch, it has nothing to do with being neutralized properly or not. Could you post a picture in our forum so I can see what you mean by inconsistent saturation?

    • Bob says:

      Wood some times will have a different density due to the grain. Maybe the tree the wood was from went through a drought and grew slowly for a few years then grew faster. This causes the grain to be more dense in certain areas. Maybe you might want to think about using a solid color stain instead of a transparent or semi transparent stain.

      I have a large deck that was stained with a product called flood, it was a solid color stain and it lasted 10 yrs. About to strip it and refinish and I'm going to use flood solid color stain again, hope it works as well this time ad it did 10 yrs ago.

  8. Marcie Christensen says:

    I applied Behr Transparent weather proofing wood finish to my deck 2 and a half years ago. It is 100% acrylic. It is faded, flaking and peeling. Can you offer any advice on what kind of stripper I could use. Already sanded with a deck sander, but still remains large areas and splotches. I still have railing and 2 stairs to do.


  9. Lee says:

    Hello, I love your site and wish I had run across it ages ago! I (along with many others it seems) applied the awful Behr Semi-Transparent stain, and 2 years in, it looks awful. I'm trying to get rid of it, but I'm having the hardest time doing so.

    What's the best way to get rid of this awful product (taking into consideration both time and cost-effectiveness)?
    A) Buy a better stain remover? (The Behr stuff from Home Depot didn't even take off their own product!) If so, it seems like HD80 works best on acrylic stain like Behr, is that right?
    B) Rent a belt sander? (Will this remove all of the stain below the surface?)
    C) Replace the wood? (With the work I have already put in stripping 25% of the deck, I could have bought lumber and replaced the entire surface of the deck by now.)
    Some combination of the three?

    Here are the answers to the 5 questions I've seen in other threads, in case that helps:
    Deck Location State: Illinois
    Half Partial Sun, Half Full Shade
    Wood Type: Pressure Treated Pine
    Mold or Mildew Issues: A little
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: Peeled

    Thank you so much for your help!

    • a. Powdered stain removers like HD80 can be mixed stronger so they will usually be more effective. Still will need to sand though.
      b. belt sanders will help
      c. if you can afford it and the wood is not in great shape then this could be a viable option.

      Once removed you can use the TWP 1500 or Armstrong Clark for much easier future maintenance.

  10. Tap Sum Bong says:

    What is the best deck stain stripper available in Canada?

  11. wjmooney says:

    I just finished staining my deck and it looks great. But I made a mess of the concrete walkway. Any suggestions what can I use to remove oil based stains from this?

  12. Eric says:

    Bought Behr "Premium" gel stain remover to remove some old acrylic stain from previous owner. It was a horrible experience. You can read my review on Home Depot and some rants on this site. DON'T BUY BEHR. Follow the sound advice from this site the first time and save yourself a headache from wasted time and money. You will also save yourself from some alkaline chemical burns by wearing proper protective equipment. Buy Restore A Deck. Higher concentration and longer dwell time took acrylic off nicely with power washer.

  13. Mike says:

    2 weeks ago I stained my cedar fence with Sherwin Williams oil based semi transparent stain. This was a horrible experience. Not only was there a huge inconsistency in color but also in the stain, only one side of my fence actually looks like it was stained the rest looks like paint. not only does my fence look horrible but I used 20 gal of stain on a fence that should have only took 10 gal, and the fence isn't even finished. I just want to know what would be the best way to go about removing this stain. Thanks

    • Sounds like it was over applied. It is not easy to remove a newly applied stain, even harder if over applied, and nearly impossible if it is a paint. There is no easy way to remove it. You could try a stripper and pressure wash it off. You will probably need to strip it multiple times and it still may not come all the way off. Might want to contact SW for some advice.

  14. Kevin says:

    I have a fairly old deck with three generations of pine decking, original boards, replacement boards (2 yrs old) and new boards. What is the best approach to remove the existing semi transparent stain and restain and have a consistent color to the deck? I want to restain with a semi transparent stain.
    Thank you

  15. Sue says:

    1. Is there a product available for stripping an 8 year old, semi-transparent, water-based stain from a pressure-treated pine DOCK and GANGWAY on the lake?
    2. If I use RAD stripper, should I protect the painted steel frame that holds the boards in place?

  16. Susan says:

    When it was two months old, our deck was stained with Preservawood Redwood (lighter than Pacific Redwood). I couldn't be near our house for 3 weeks the smell bothered me so much. I am desperate to switch to Defy or another very low odor stain, but it seems so complicated and prone to failure of one sort or another. I found a deck restorer who has never used Defy, but he is willing to try. Another deck guy said, "once oil, always oil," What do you think I should use? If we can make the switch, should we sand as well as strip? How can we test to see whether all the oil stain is gone?

    • Strip off and sand only if needed. Brighten all wood when done. Once the stain is visibly removed from the wood, you can switch to the Defy Extreme with no issues.

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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.