Deck Stripping – Removing an Old Deck Stain

Failing 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.

One of the biggest mistakes DIY homeowners make in cleaning and preparing a wood deck for stain, is not removing all remnants of old deck stain. Any failed deck stain that is left on the wood will block the new stain from penetrating the surface properly. The new deck stain will sit on top of the wood instead of diving into it. Deck stains do not adhere to each other well so this causes the newer deck stain to begin flaking and peeling off the deck normally in a year or less. Even if you can’t see any old deck stain but you know there was some on the wood at one time, it’s vitally important to remove it. Splash some water on the wood and see if it absorbs into the wood or if it beads up and sits on top. Beading up would indicate there is some type of old failed stain on the wood that needs to be removed.

To remove old deck stain from the wood you have to use a deck stripper. A quality deck stripper will break up and soften any old stain allowing it to be washed away. Most deck strippers will not remove solid stain or paints, if this is the case you may have to sand the old stain to get back down to bare wood again.

Once the deck has been washed with a deck stripper and the old deck stain is gone, it is necessary to brighten the wood using a wood brightener. The deck stripper will darken the wood and raise the pH level. To brighten the wood back to a natural state, and lower the pH to a more acidic level, will restore the appearance and give the new deck stain the best chance of lasting as long as possible.

A properly cleaned and brightened deck should be allowed to dry for several days before a quality deck stain is applied. Taking these measures and using a deck stripper and deck brightener before staining will give you much better and longer lasting results.

Deck Stain Stripper Reviews

117 Responses to “Deck Stripping – Removing an Old Deck Stain”

  1. Pat says:

    I used the Sherwin Williams brand (Deckscapes) stripper to strip off the remaining semi-transparent stain I used that failed. I followed up with a power washer to attempt to remove all stain. Unfortunately there are a few pesky areas that won't come up, even after multiple attempts. There are also areas I'm unable to reach with the power washer (behind spindles, back of railing, etc.) that the stain hasn't been removed. What are your recommendations? Should I use a small detailing sander to remove the reaming stain? Thanks!

    • Depends. How much in % came off and what stain brand are you using for reapplication.

      • Pat says:

        I would estimate 90 -95% of the stain was removed with the stripper and power washer. I followed up with a brightener and plan to sand the entire deck prior to staining. I just want to ensure the last bit of stain will come off with a sanding. I plan to re-stain with the TWP 100 in a dark brown color similar to what I used before.

        • Karen says:

          I have the same problem—I have used DEFY Stain Stripper to try and remove the existing stain from my deck. About 80% of the stain has been removed after multiple applications. I would like to use the same stain that was used before (it lasted pretty long, just finally defeated by wear and Seattle weather). Do I have to get the rest of the old stain off, since I'm using the same stain again?

  2. Ralph says:

    Bought a house a with a new cedar deck(9 months old). Previous owner had put sealer on the knots in the wood…not the entire deck. He said he didn't have time to seal the deck before the winter rain started. So ..he decided to brush sealer on the knots only.
    Now….I want to remove the sealer,mold and mildew..and finish the deck properly. Which deck stripper do you recommend??

  3. Matt says:

    Taking over after someones else's failed attempt. They apparently put on Flood CWF oil based semi transparent over the top of the exact same stuff after only pressure washing once. Did not remove the old stain (same brand, type) now it is barely present on some spots and has a thick tacky glossy buildup on the railing, balusters, and near the edges of flooring. I usually have only done a first application after i have built the deck, so this is new ground for me. Where do i start?

    • Strip off as much as you can first. Hopefully most or all will come off. If not you will need to sand. The difficult areas to remove will be the shiny spots.

    • Brian says:

      semi transparent stain is made to repel . . . if u dont get it all off . . . the remaining stain will repel any new stain. the new layer will most likely peel off the remaining stain at some point in the near future.

  4. Michael says:

    How can I get Penofin stain semi transparent off a bench I just put on the bench a few days ago and got water spots so I sanded it and want to get the rest of the stain off with a Stripper? What can I use? Please help !!!!

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