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Wood Fuzzies (Furring) on Deck

Wood Fuzzies on Deck After Prepping? Why it happened and how to fix.

Before applying a deck stain or sealer you should prep the wood properly first. Prepping is the most important part to the deck stain’s longevity. When evaluating the prepping process you should look at two options. Does the wood need to be cleaned or does an old stain need to be removed?
When To Use A Deck Cleaner
-Best to prep with a deck cleaner if you do not have an old stain, the wood is heavily grayed, wood is new, or you plan on applying a maintenance coat of deck stain.

When To Use A Deck Stain Stripper
-Use a deck stain stripper if you need to remove an old stain that has failed unevenly, was over applied, or you are planning on switching stain brands. This will allow the new stain to properly absorb into the wood grain.

One of the negative effects of using a Deck Cleaner or Deck Stripper is it is possible to get “wood fuzzies” or “wood furring” when finished. This looks like very small raised wood grain fibers or hair on the decking boards. When you are prepping a deck you are essentially remove a layer of oxidized or damaged wood cells. The more you remove, the greater the chance of making the wood look “fuzzy” or “soft”.

Here are a couple examples of when there is a greater chance of this happening:

Heavily Grayed or Neglected Wood
-When the wood is left to gray (oxidize) from the UV you will need to remove all of the damaged wood cells. The grayer the wood, the more you will need to remove from the surface and the greater the chance of getting the “fuzzies”.

Multiple layers of Older Deck Stain is Being Removed
-Deck Stain strippers are a mild caustic that may also create the furry look to the wood grain. The heavier or stronger the concentration of the deck stripper, the greater the chance of the wood fuzzies showing

Preventing Wood Fuzzies

-Only use as strong of a concentration of the cleaner or stripper as needed.
-Minimize the wood fuzzies from showing by using a wood brightener as soon as you are done with the deck cleaner or deck stain stripper and while the wood is still wet. This will neutralize the cleaner, leaving the wood in a neutral state.

How To Remove Wood Fuzzies

-Make sure that when you are done with the preppingĀ  that you rinse the wood extremely well to remove all excess wood pulp from the decking during the washing.
-After the wood has dried, you can remove the fuzzies by lightly sanding or buffing the wood. As contractors we like to use sanding buffing pads. They are not aggressive and will smooth the wood without over sanding. You can use these buffing pads on floor buffing machines that can be rented from your local rental yard. We can remove the wood fuzzies from a 500 sq. foot deck in 10 minutes with a floor buffer. Use a smaller pad and hand held buffer for the railings if needed.

Taking care to minimize and remove the wood fuzzies from your deck will result in a longer lasting and better looking application with a deck stain.

Questions on this Topic? Ask Below

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85 responses to “Wood Fuzzies (Furring) on Deck”

  1. Rick Manser says:

    I have a fairly new cedar deck that was cleaned and stained in the spring of 2013. After going through the summer, fall and winter it's pretty dirty and a little mildewed. I washed a couple of boards with oxyclean and they look great, but there are dark patches in areas that have high exposure to water dripping off the roof that don't come out. I'm thinking about using the restore-a-deck products you recommend on this site. I don't want to remove the old finish, I just want to clean it off and put another coat of stain on. Sikkins SRD is on the deck right now. I'm trying to determine if I should use the brightener after I use the cleaner over the cleaned stained deck. Will the brightener penetrate the stain and remove the dark areas? Will it also remove the old Sikkins stain? How do you recommend I proceed with this project?

    • Rick, the brightener is designed to neutralize the cleaner/strippers. It does remove black rust stains. It may help on water stains but if they are deep, they will not come out. Nothing we know of will get out deep water stains. The brightener does not remove old decking stains. The cleaner may if the old stain has failed substantially. I would clean and bright and hope the water stains go away.

  2. bearmoss says:

    What grit paper should be used to remove fuzzies? Do you try to go with the length of a cple of boards at a time?

  3. Mike says:

    My deck is 4 years old, pressure treated wood

    Was heavily greyed so I used Defy cleaner and brightener on it, once dried the wood looked much whiter – clean

    I had some spots of stains that did not come out even with some hard scrubbing so I took a sander to those areas, 60 grit paper I believe, in some spots I had to sand for a few seconds to get it

    The sanded areas are now obvious, a light brown color vs the white from the un-sanded areas, I also have a pretty big case of the fuzzies

    It has been almost 2 weeks since applying the brightener, my next steps were to be lightly sand the rest of the deck with palm sander to get rid of the fuzzies

    Will I need to use a brightener again? I'm worried about the heavily sanded areas standing out even after staining – was thinking of using Armstrong Clark Rustic Brown

  4. Bill Neyman says:

    I have a deck that is around 20 years old in Denver. It has been cleaned and stained numerous times but never stripped. There are areas near the house that are very good and traffic areas that have ridges and is worn. I was considering renting a sander this time and sanding the deck before pressure washing and staining. What do you think?
    Denver Co.

  5. Tanya says:

    What would be the best way to deal with warped boards? We have an old deck (25 yrs old) that wasn't maintained for at least last 15 years. All previous stain seems to be gone, and the wood is gray. We want to keep this deck for as long as possible before replacing it, and the boards seem to be in ok shape (not rotten, just warped).
    I'm planning to sand the whole deck (~500 sq ft). Is there anything better (and less time/labor consuming) than that? Thanks!

  6. Craig M says:

    I just bought a house with a pine deck which obviously had never been treated or stained. I used Defy wood cleaner and brightener on the main deck boards. The top of the railings had some kind of old failed stain on them so I used Defy stripper and brightener on those. Throughout these processes I used simply a hose with a strong nozzle for cleaning and removing the chemicals (no power washer) and a stiff bristle brush. The floor boards now look great, but these railing tops are now totally covered with fuzzy raised fibres. Perhaps I scrubbed and scoured too hard on the top, or perhaps this is natural – not sure which.

    The question is: How can I get rid of these "fuzzies" from the railing tops? I don't have access to any floor buffing machines as suggested above. I tried using a little 80-grit sandpaper sponge on an inconspicuous spot but it didn't improve it. I am reluctant to apply stain to the deck until I get those raised fibres off the railing. Any recommendations?

  7. Sara says:

    I have a deck that is just over a year old. We had it installed in May of 2013 and waited a year for the wood to dry out before staining. The wood greyed a lot and several black spots appeared. We power washed it last weekend and it looks terrible. Talk about fuzzies!! Is this because we didn't use a cleaner? What is the best solution at this point. We want to make sure it looks good before applying the semi-transparent stain we bought.

    • Fuzzies are because you let it gray heavily. When this happens you have to remove an excess amount of wood cells that have oxidized. This would have happened with a cleaner as well but maybe less. Try rewashing with a cleaner and wood brightener and to remove the excess fuzzies. If needed when done, you should rent a floor buffer and a sanding pad to remove the rest.

  8. Kathy E says:

    Once the sanding is done to remove the raised wood fibers, do I need to do anything other than brush the deck off prior to applying stain? I've already stripped and brightened our cedar deck. I've read both opinions by various professionals – 1) Sanding causes the wood pores to be blocked so cleaning is necessary first before staining — and the contrary 2) Stain immediately after sanding as the wood absorption of the stain is the best. I'd rather not have to apply any more water to the deck if not necessary and would think brushing off the wood dust off is sufficient.

  9. Kathy says:

    Incredible tip to use a floor buffer for removing wood fuzzies. I rented a floor buffer and used a 120 grit screen placed on the buffing pad. It did the job on our 500 square foot cedar deck in 10 minutes just as was stated (took 2 screens to do the job for 500 square feet). Surprisingly, this is not a well-known tip amongst home improvement stores. They are clueless and want to rent you a hand-held orbital sander instead. The floor buffer is the way to go. I had to purchase the 120 grit screen at a commercial janitorial store and they were about $8 each. Thank you for sharing your expertise! Note: Make sure you receive a tutorial at the rental store prior to using a floor buffer. The buffer can be a bit of a beast until you are used to its operation. The rental store allowed me to "practice" in their store with the buffing pad and it helped immensely.

    • Awesome! We have our own buffer that we use all the time. Fuzzies happen!

      Good tip on the use. Buffers are a balancing act. Tips up slightly and it goes right, tip down slightly and it goes left.

  10. etb says:

    You can remove the fuzzies over 500 sq ft with a floor buffer in 10 min. that's fast.

    Curious if anyone has tried using a floor buffer with a brush head to clean a wood deck, as opposed to buffing pads and screens?
    With the right brush head , it would seem that this combined with bleach or a deck cleaner would be highly effective.
    Anyone tried it?

    • We have not but many other contractors have. They use a brand call Osborn Brushes.

      • etb says:

        How well are those Osborne brushes working? I guess they are like 16 or 18" round?
        Reading on the site This Old House, they like a liquid deck cleaner and a good old fashion scrub brush with a long handle.
        It would seem that a floor buffer with it's weight and the right brush might be more effective and faster than power washing, and that's if why anyone can share real word experience it would be a great help before I make the investment..

        • Pressure washing and a good deck cleaner or stain stripper is the way to prep for sure when it comes to efficiency. Pads or Osborn brushes are only used after if needed to knock down fuzzies. They are not used as prep.

      • etb says:

        The Osborne brush is small like 4-6" and works with an angle grinder or something similar to a car polisher.

        I spoke today to an expert with floor buffer sales, and he claims that he has numerous customers cleaning decks with large floor buffing machines with like a 16-18" head. He recommends a polypropylene or nylon brush that's not too stiff. Claims that it works fast and well if the underlying wood is in good shape!
        Worth trying if you have access to a large buffer and have a large deck!

  11. maj says:

    My deck is fuzzy, not sure I want to sand the whole thing. I was only going to apply an oil. Can I apply oil without sanding?

  12. Travis says:

    I just washed a deck and I have those fuzzies on the rails. What color buffing pad do you suggest? Also is this going to be a long process? If I was just to seal it would the fuzzies come out that way?

  13. Bill says:

    I have an elevated deck (~ 10 feet off the ground) built in 1986. The wood decking on the majority of the deck is in good condition except on one side that catches the ocean breeze. The area impacted by the fuzz is approximately 36" into deck. It is on the top and on the underside of the decking and on the joist. I've attempted to use a belt sander (w/ 50 grit) on top with a success rate of about 50%. What are my alternatives?

  14. Val says:

    removed old stain with stripper. Do I sand it then use Brightner then let it dry then re-stain OR do I use brightner let it dry then sand then re-stain

  15. Christine says:

    I am paranoid to purchase the wrong type of buffing pad. Is there a specific one you can recommend?

    Sorry, not sure if this is a double post

  16. Dusty says:

    We stripped our white cedar deck and cleaned and brightened it. We applied Defy for Hardwoods but did not notice the fuzzy patches. Now that the stain is dry, those fuzzy patches show a lot. Is there anything to do now or do we have to wait for the next time we strip? would light sanding & restaining work now? It's only been 2 weeks since we stained.

  17. Matt says:

    I cleaned and brightened a new pine treated deck (after a 10 month drying period) and ended up with some of the boards containing fuzzies. I will be renting a floor buffer and will be using a white buffing pad to remove the fuzzies before applying one coat of TWP deck stain. Do i need to brighten again after buffing, or just rinse of the dust well with a garden hose before staining?

  18. Mark says:

    I got the wood fuzzies after applying the wood cleaner. It's been over 1 week now, will applying a wood brighter provide any benefit?

  19. Kartboarder22G says:

    So I have a brand new pressure treated deck that is about 11 months old with no stain that is on the south side of my house in direct sunlight. I used deck cleaner to clean it up and after it had dried the next day I had fuzz on my deck, basically the deck looked worse then before I used the cleaner. So I rented a floor buffer with the red disk as per the comments in this site and it basically removed about 50% of the fuzzies after about 2 hours of buffing. Not only that but I was left with red marks all over my deck on the peaks of the boards. At this time I pretty much regret spending the time and money to rent that 105lb. machine might I add. The deck is only 220 sq. ft.

    So what I did to remove the rest of the fuzzies and what I recommend others do is buy cheap heavy duty 3M scotch brite pads, 6"x3.8" and cut about 1/4" off the 6" dimension and put it in a 1/4 sheet sander, one with the metal clamps to hold it in place. Then just run that over the fuzzy areas. I suppose you could find a bigger piece and cut a circle out of it to mount on your orbital hand sander. I think some places might sell pre-cut scotch brite pads to mount to and orbital sanders. Might be the faster way to go, using that type of sander. If you don't have one of these sanders they cost same as the buffer rental to buy or you can rent them too for even cheaper. Plus for the small size you can use them on the railing.

    Now I still have to sand the peaks of my boards to remove the red left behind by that buffer pad…wonderful!

  20. Anthony says:

    Very helpful! Thanks

  21. Alfred says:

    My wife & I did the cleaner and brightener this past Sunday. Took longer than anticipated, so I was rinsing the deck in the dark for a couple of hours last night in order to do what I thought was a very thorough rinsing job. Was excited to get home today to see our masterpiece! … but came across a deck full of fuzzies. Here are my questions:

    1)Should I use red (5100) or white (4100) pad?
    2)I would’ve thought that a belt sander would be better (to ensure it goes with the grain), but it looks like a rotary sander is the one that’s recommended. The rotary sanders don’t leave any circular markings on the deck?
    3)For railings and spindles, is there a recommended electric sander, or should I just do them by hand? And what grit?
    4)I’ve cleaned and brightened. Can I now just sand, then rinse, then stain (after at least 48 hrs or until below 10% moisture)? Is hose rinsing okay, or would lightly pressure washing do better?
    5)I’ve cleaned/brightened deck, so prefer not to have to do either step again before staining. Unfortunately, there’s some rain in the forecast for the next couple of weekends, so it may be 3 (or 4) weeks since we cleaned/brightened before I can stain. Is that okay?
    6)This isn’t “fuzzy” related, but I’ll ask anyhow. We have a pine PT deck with composite trim around the deck as well as composite handrails. Before we stain (we’re going to use TWP 1520 Pecan), your site previously mentioned that the stain will affect the composite, so we should tape it off. For interior paint jobs, I’ve used all kinds of tape depending on the job (i.e., Frog-yellow, Frog-green, 3M-blue, Painter’s Mate-green, etc.). For taping composite, is there a recommended brand and type? With the extra challenge of it being on composite in the sun, I want to keep the composite protected from the stain without ending up with some messy nightmare when I go to remove the tape. Thoughts?

    Our deck is 950 sf, so I want to do all of this in the best, most efficient manner … and only once. Thanks for your advice & help (as always)!

    • 1. Use white pad
      2. You want a floor buffing machine and pad. Not aggressive like a small rotary sander.
      3. We would just use a palm sander for the rails. 60-80 grit.
      4. Light pressure wash or very good rinse. Your goal to to remove any sand dust while \”swelling\” the wood pores/
      5. 3-4 weeks is pushing it. Hard to say if you will need to lightly wash again and brighten again.
      6. Not sure on the tape as we never use it. Stains tend to bleed under the tape. We are just very careful and immediately within seconds clean off any stain that get on the composite with Goof Off.

      • Alfred says:

        That sounds good. I'll be sure to do whatever I can (weather permitting) to get it stained within 2 weeks of cleaning/brightening. That seems to be the ballpark time frame to shoot for. (Lordee knows I don't want to have to wash/brighten it again!) And thanks for the tip/info about the taping-off-composite-trim question. I was a little nervous about taping it off in the elements. I like your suggestion better … to essentially very carefully stain right alongside the composite, and then immediately wipe off any excess that gets on the composite with Goof Off. Thanks!! :)

    • Kartboarder22G says:

      Use a 1/4 sheet pad vibration sander($30 sander) and buy heavy duty 3M scotch brite pads, 6"x3.8" and cut about 1/4" off the 6" dimension then mount on the sander, for the railings, it is what I did. Heck I did each board with that too, due to the buffer not working out too well for me. I tried sand paper in the vibration sander, but for me it still just worked up on the peaks of the railing and didn't get into the valleys like the green scotch brite pads do.

      • Alfred says:

        Kartboarder22G — I like that idea! Because of the size of our deck, we're starting out with a floor buffer w/ white pad for the main area. And I did get some 60 grit sand paper for my palm sander (manual) for the rails/spindles, but I really like the idea of using the Heavy Duty 3M Scotch Brite pad (6 x 3.8), so I bought a pack of 3 this evening. Hopefully the buffer/white pad works for the main area, but at least you've given me another option in the event I run into an issue with the board 'peaks.' By the way, do you mind sharing the make/model of the $30 vibration sander you successfully used? Thanks again. I'll be sure to let you & DeckStainHelp know what ended up working best for our pine PT deck. -Al

  22. Kyle says:

    I have some "fuzzies" that have appeared on my cedar fence after cleaning. What do you recommend to use to take care of them, since I obviously can't use a floor buffer? Just fine grit sand paper? TIA


    • Kyle, the really do not show on verticals when using a stain so you may not need to do anything. Try a test spot with the stain to see if the \”fuzzies\” go away and are not noticeable.

  23. Rena says:

    can you leave the wood gray and put the stain over? I partially sanded an old building and left some gray on. Like the look and would like it to stay this color. What will a stain do over this? Not trying to change the color just preserve the wood. Thank you!

  24. Ted says:

    I stained my deck 2 yrs ago with TWP 1530 natural and had a little over two gallons left over. It has been in my garage since then. The stain is in its original 5 gallon can and the garage is very cold in the winter and hot during the summer. Is the stain still good to use?

    • Deck Stain Help says:

      Depends if the closed well and if anything evaporated out. Check to see if clumpy or has a thick gel on top. if it does, then it went bad.

  25. Sam Adams says:

    I've got the fuzzies. Where can I find the "sanding buffing pads" you mentioned? What should I ask for at Menard's, Lowes, etc.?

  26. Bryan says:

    White pad on buffer saved the day. Took about an hour to do my 470sf deck. Use green Scotch Bright pad to touchup stubborn areas. Great advice. This was done two weeks after applying Q8 log oil. Looks great. Don't think I'll use a harsh chemical deck cleaner next time. I never use a pressure washer, just water hose. Oil manufacture suggested Tide and scub.

  27. Christian says:

    I pressure washed my deck, and I have wood fuzzies, and also some ridges.
    Can I just sand down the ridges, or should I use a thicker stain? It was suggested I use Deck Do Over. I want some sort of stain because I find when they fade, they still look good, as opposed to the brown/purple paint that people seemed to love in the 90s.

  28. Eve Hale says:

    Where can I find sanding buffjng pads?

  29. mario bergeron says:

    Hi last year i did my cedar fence with twp 1520 pecan . This years we use restore-a-deck cleaner and brightner. When we rince with water pressure we saw the stain was change: the side sun exposed have a lot of wood fuzzy. The other side have some spot (look like stain was stay and other place was more white). Wich pad do you recommand to me to buff my fence. I will use my car buffer with some modification. I try to remove with a green scoth bright but it still stay littlebit white fuzzy. Also i try to stain another part without sand but it ugly. If it will be better to sand it all with a hand orbital sander with sand paper80.

  30. mario bergeron says:

    Second question:
    if I sand it with sandpaper 80 does I need to use another time the water pressure and the cleaner? before I will pass an air compressor blower.

  31. Heather says:

    We cleaned with bleach and water (wished I'd come across this great website sooner, as I see this was a mistake). Parts of the wood in less grain areas are now whiter than everything else. I came across your site and decided to try a wood brightener to see if that would neutralize the effects, but was over a week later. Whiter areas still there. Will semi transparent stain be forgiving enough and take consistently or are we going to be stuck with a lot of unevenness? Crew is supposed to come out day after tomorrow to stain for us. :(

  32. Wade says:

    Some excellent advice here!

    I took the initiative to pressure wash the stain off my 16×20 pressure treated deck, and of course, note I see it was a mistake. They're are ridges and the deck, after dung looks terrible. Should I take a belt sander to it, or is there a better way? I intend to stain it before putting it in the maket in a couple weeks. Thanks!

    • If you have pressure wash damage from using too much pressure, you will need to sand the entire deck to even out. Not possible to spot sand and apply a stain the is semi-transparent. It will stain unevenly unless you sand all.

  33. Kim says:

    A friend just finished stripping alot of old stain and new stain we botched off of our deck to get it down to the bare wood and told us not to worry about the fuzziness and that our Cabot semitransparent cedar will cover just fine, is this true? Should I just leave it be as he says, what's the worse I can expect if we don't remove the fuzzies?

  34. Jon says:

    I just read 101 responses saying "use a floor buffer".

    But how do I remove the fuzzies without one?

    Is there something I can put on my 5" random orbital?

    Hand buff with 3M green? red? gray? pad?

    Hand sand with 80?

    I'd rather not buy a palm sander, but will if I have to.

    Also, would it be beneficial to route a groove between deck boards that are so tightly butted that they don't allow water to pass through and tend to get clogged with gunk? Most of my boards have enough gap to allow water through, but some are tightly butted.


    • You can rent a floor buffer for $50. It is really the best way and the fastest way. Doing by hand can be done, but will take substantially longer and the results may not be as good. Sanding pads should work. They come in grits. Use about 80 grit. I would not router the butted boards.

  35. Justin says:

    Could you use a pad like a scotch brite on the floor buffer?

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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.