Best Deck Prep? Clean, Strip, or Sand the Deck? 4.8/5 (68)

This post was updated on April 29, 2022

What is the Best Deck Deck Prep 2022

This has become one of our most popular articles on DeckStainhelp.com. In this article, we help by guiding consumers in finding the best way to prep their deck for an application or reapplication of a deck stain or deck coating. Not all scenarios are the same, and this article with some input and pictures from you will help determine the proper way to prep.

Best Deck Prep? Clean, Strip, or Sand the Deck?

Best Deck Prep? Clean, Strip, or Sand the Deck?

Clean, Strip, or Sand the Deck?

This is the 2nd most popular question that deck owners have on this website with the first being What is the Best Deck Stain? Prepping your deck is the single most important aspect of the deck restoration process and will determine your final appearance and the stain’s longevity. Not prepping properly can lead to premature stain failure and overall poor appearance results. How to best prep your deck could vary on many scenarios:

  • Is the wood new or old?
  • Does it have a previous coating on the wood?
  • Are you re-coating with the same brand and colors as last time?
  • When was the last time it was stained?
  • What type of stain was it coated with before?

A better way to approach the deck prepping question is to ask, “what is the best deck prep for my deck due to its current condition and age?”

The three main ways to prep a deck are:

  • Deck Cleaning followed by Wood Brightening
  • Deck Stripping followed by Wood Brightening
  • Power Sanding
  • Or a combination of the above

How To Strip A Deck Stain Video

What is the Best Deck way to Prep My Deck?

We will ask a series of questions. Based on your answers to these questions, we will be able to provide help as to the best way to prep your deck before applying a deck stain.

  1. New Wood or Older Wood?
  2. Does the Deck have a Current Coating?
  3. Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color?
  4. Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? Enter “unknown” if you do not know.
  5. What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Oil-based or Water-Based? Clear, Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, or Solid Stain?
  6. Mold or Mildew Issues?
  7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure?
  8. You Must Include Picture(s) of the Current Condition.

Post a comment below and make sure to include the answers to the above questions. Feel free to include any additional information that would be useful!

Ask in the Comment Section Below. Include Answers to the above Questions.

Please Rate This. You may also post comments or ask questions below.

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kluzanoafrotc
kluzanoafrotc
1 month ago

I moved into my current home about 3 months ago and am not sure where to even start on the deck maintenance. I originally though I needed to strip and re-stain, but maybe it just needs a good cleaning. Additionally, the wood appears to be splitting in areas, but it doesn’t appear to be more than 1/4 of an inch on the horizontal surfaces. How do I remedy the splits? There are some larger splits on some of the vertical rails.

New Wood or Older Wood? My relator says the deck appears to be 5 years old, but I’m really not sure.

Does the Deck have a Current Coating? It currently has a coating. It might even have more than 1.

Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? Most likely switching brands

Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? Enter “unknown” if you do not know. unknown

What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Oil-based or Water-Based? Clear, Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, or Solid Stain? maybe semi transparent

Mold or Mildew Issues? The deck is showing signs of mold I think

Reason for Previous Stain Failure? might just need a maintenance coat. There are some portions where it looks like the previous stain has worn off

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Matt Snow
Matt Snow
1 month ago

Guilty of deck neglect. deck had worn off stain when we purchased the home. We pressure washed with Tsp then applied Cabot Australian timber Oil 5 years ago. We did not do any research! This week 5 rotted boards replaced, bench removed from around edge, you can see the outline. Yes, we can swtich from the oil. Yes mold/mildew shown in photo 2. Close deck boards do not allow for easy passage of water. Time to make this right. Eventually, we want to replace the deck with a screened porch, maybe in 3 or 4 years. Thank you Scott Paul.

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Lynn
Lynn
1 month ago

Will appreciate your advice – have a pergola that is in need of some touchup. Here are the answers to the questions posted above:
1 old wood
2 has current coating
3 probably switching since it’s been 10+ years and don’t recall original brand used for first painting and first touchup. This will be the second touchup.
4 unknown
5 Probably water-based, solid stain, would have remembered if oil based
6 some mildew and algae on the north side in the shade of the house
7 stain removed due to age, wear and tear, and power washing. Just using water only no bleach or other cleaners. Soft washing pressure no more than 1700.

Joe
Joe
2 months ago

Last Fall I sanded my deck, used restore a deck brightener, and did 2 coats ready seal cedar. Looked ok but has faded a lot since then. Is that normal? Im planning to hose down, use restore a deck, and do another coat of ready seal. Is there a better option. Thanks!

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Joe
Joe
2 months ago

Thanks. Can I stain right over the ready seal or would i need to remove first?

Scott Thomas
Scott Thomas
2 months ago

What would you guys recommend here? The stain is 4-5 years old and the wood is around 17-20 years. Am I going to be able to get this old stain up? I think it is a solid. I don’t know the original brand name. I have a power washing business and have no trouble using a cleaning mix and brightener on most jobs , but this is some heavy stain. I thought I would go with Deck Correct type stuff but the reviews appear abysmal. Thank You

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Peeling Deck Stain
Tara Buhr
Tara Buhr
2 months ago

I have used restore a deck stripper. (Previously had Behr deck over on it) About 95% of it has come off. There are spots that look still stained red, and other spots that definitely have the stain still on it. I have done a couple practice runs of a sander and it still isn’t coming out. Do I need to keep sanding? Or can I brighten and add stain?
on another note, if I choose a solid stain Color, do I still need to get all of the previous stain off?
(last photo is a before and after)

Tara Buhr
Tara Buhr
2 months ago

Sorry about that!

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Tara Buhr
Tara Buhr
2 months ago

Sorry about that

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Dave
Dave
2 months ago

I cleaned and brightened my weathered porch (no previous protection) with mediocre products and pressure washing, so it wasn’t the best results. Can I re-clean and re-brighten with better products and then pressure wash again? Or maybe just brighten and pressure wash since it’s been cleaned? Will that throw off the pH?

Also, I sanded some boards after cleaning and brightening. Do I need to re-brighten? I will be priming and painting. Thanks.

Dave
Dave
2 months ago

Thanks for the feedback. You saved me from making a big mistake. I’ll post pics tonight. To follow up, do solid deck stains provide the same protection (UV, mold/mildew) as semi-transparent stains? Do they get slippery when wet?

Before I found your site, I primed and painted my handrails and balusters white. Will that be okay? I also stained my fence with Ready Seal, so I don’t want to have multiple stain colors–which is why I’m opting for a solid color for the deck. Thanks again.

Dave
Dave
2 months ago

Here is my front porch.

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Dave
Dave
2 months ago

Here is my back porch.

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Dave
Dave
2 months ago

Thanks again for the feedback. I applied the brightener poorly, which is why the wood is splotchy. Should I go ahead and re-clean and re-brighten with better products? Or will that be too much for the wood?

I didn’t finish my front porch because I ran out of time and it wasn’t looking to great. Thanks again.

Dave
Dave
2 months ago

Sounds good. Thanks again.

Mike Byrne
Mike Byrne
2 months ago

I am planning to restain the horizontal portion of my deck. I used One Time Chestnut colored stain about 5 years ago. How do i prepare the deck to be restained and what stain would you recommend? I have attached phptos of the deck in its current state as well as a photo of the product I used.
Thanks!

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princess6817
princess6817
2 months ago

Hi Scott, I have a deck that was built in May with Premium Pressure treated lumber. I am ready to stain and saw that you suggest cleaning and brightening before staining. I am partial to the stain color that comes out on the faded white looking scrap pieces that match our deck floor verses the yellowed scrap pine which is more like what is on our rails. Same stain color yet two different looks. It looks much better on the whited lumber. If I use the brightener on my deck floors will it come out more yellow again or will It keep the whitish haze that I like? Also If I only use the brightener on the rails where it is still yellow will it match it closer to the deck flooring? What do you recommend? Photos with color are the same stain color. One on the bleached looking wood like decking and the other on the still yellowish railing. We have not done anything to any of the deck at this point. Still have to clean, possibly brighten and stain. We like the more brownish color not the yellow. The stain is Armstrong and clark natural oak in semi transparent. We were advised that the transparent stains don’t offer as much protection. We are looking for a light brown color without yellow or red hues but if we have to have one we would prefer the red.

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Kate
Kate
2 months ago

Hi Scott, thanks for your help. I am helping an elderly neighbor with their deck and need guidance. Its old wood, at least 15yrs pine. It was “finished” last about 3 yrs ago with unknown product. She has never been happy with any products btw it sounds like. She wants a “sealer” only with no stain due to her experiences in the past. The environment is very moist. She wants to do it mid October with the temps here ranging from mid 70’s during the day and 40’s at night. I am apprehensive about the temps which I have communicated. If we do proceed, my plan was to power wash, let dry x 2-3 days then use Cabot transparent gold sun drenched sealer or australian timber oil. If you have any advice or guidance I would appreciate it!

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Nathaniel W
Nathaniel W
2 months ago

Ok, this is an old deck. No idea about any of the physical details as it was here when we bought the place a few years ago. Now I want to get it redone before the snow flies, unless it’s better to do this in spring?

  1. Old wood. Unknown type.
  2. Current coating as pictured. Suspect water based since it’s peeling badly, but not 100%.
  3. Probably switching, but no idea what the previous was.
  4. No idea what the previous stain was.
  5. Again, I’m guessing a solid, water based stain.
  6. Not huge mold or mildew issues that I’ve noticed.
  7. Previous stain is flaking off hard.

My current plan was to just power wash off what I can and sand the crap out of what I can get at with a rotary sander\angle grinder with sanding attachment. Then re stain. But I’m wondering if there’s a superior process for my situation.

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Brad
Brad
2 months ago

My deck is 20’x14′ with three steps to the ground along the 20′ side and a 6′ privacy fence/rail on one side and 4′ fence/rail on the other side. Currently stained Tavern Oak with Sherwin Williams SuperDeck Oil based semi-transparent. I would like to try a different stain that might perform better. What’s the best prep product to use for deck and side fence/rails?

  1. Deck was new in 2016 – pressure treated deck boards and rough sawn fence/rail boards.
  2. Current coating is Sherwin Williams Super Deck Oil base Semi-transparent.
  3. Switching brands (but i could be convinced to use a maintenance coat on the deck surface if the prep work was less)
  4. Sherwin Williams Super Deck Oil base Semi-transparent.
  5. Oil base Semi-transparent.
  6. Some green mold/mildew on one side of the deck and fencing (see pic).
  7. Unsure why previous stain failed.
  8. Two pics attached to show how faded the stain is after 2 years.
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Tamara
Tamara
2 months ago

Hi, we expanded our deck and our budget didn’t allow all the boards to be replaced. I’m starting to prep for staining and wondering what you recommend. I’m guessing I will have to sand quite extensively to renew the old boards as much a possible. I know I won’t get them to match the new boards that closely and don’t mind that but any tips that will help and what kind of stain do you recommend? I’d like to use a semi-transparent for easier upkeep.

  1. New And old wood-pressure treated
  2. was painted (solid colour with grit) but has peeled/has been removed off
  3. was thinking semi-transparent
  4. unknown
  5. think it was paint or a Solid Stain with added in grit
  6. yes
  7. it bubbled and peeled (maybe because it was pain?) done by previous owners.
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Tamara
Tamara
2 months ago

Should I sand the old boards?

Cindy O
Cindy O
2 months ago

Is freshly stripped and brightened, vertical rough cedar siding considered new or old wood? Should I apply one or two coats of Restore A Deck semi transparent Natural? Thanks for all your help on this project!

Kathy
Kathy
2 months ago

Greetings – I live in a tiny home community and built a tiny deck addition onto an existing decked area. I had the bottom railing of existing covered porch deck Sawzalled off so I could better blow off the decking but it left bare areas in the stained flooring. I now want to refresh the entire covered porch flooring and stairs and blend into new decking. I’ve read your posts on how to stain new decking…so I’m all set there. No clue on whether to use oil or water-based stain. Answers to questions and pictures:
1- 3 year old wood
2- has coating
3- switching brands to one you recommend
4- current brand unknown
5- no idea what type of stain it is
6- no mold/mildew issues
7- time for refresh and would like to try to blend old into new decking knowing it will never match perfectly

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Celeste Warner
Celeste Warner
2 months ago

Hello! We are having trouble preparing our deck to get stained. When power washing and cleaning and brightening, the wood ended up with splinters. So then we have sanded with an orbital sander, and hope to stain next, but is it okay to use a damp cloth to dust away some of the fine particles? How long before we can stain if we do use a damp cloth? We are planning on using the Armstrong Clark stain for Hardwood (we will be sampling the Amber and Black Walnut colors to figure out the color, I don’t like the deep red and black color we got when we did a sample of the Natural Messmer stain).

  1. New Wood or Older Wood? The wood is Ipe, and has been installed for about a year, and has oxidized to a gray color we don’t like.
  2. Does the Deck have a Current Coating? No.
  3. Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? No.
  4. Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? Enter “unknown” if you do not know. No.
  5. What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Oil-based or Water-Based? Clear, Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, or Solid Stain? None.
  6. Mold or Mildew Issues? No, since it has been cleaned and brightened.
  7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure?
  8. You Must Include Picture(s) of the Current Condition.

The photo shows the cleaned area with the lower right part of the photo showing the not-yet-cleaned area.

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Celeste Warner
Celeste Warner
2 months ago

So then do I first use the cleaner, rinse, then use the brighener, then rinse, then wait 3 days to dry, then do the stain? I sure hope I’ve got this right!

Vimto
Vimto
3 months ago

Have been reading over all the wonderful info here, thank you! We have a 30 year old deck that we will be trying to revive and since we are in Canada limited to which products are available here. Leaning towards the Armstrong but what “brightener” would work best and is available in Canada?
Like others here, we too used Behrs and it began peeling the next winter … what a drag … do we have to pressure wash to remove excess peeling if we sand throughly? Many thanks.

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Vimto
Vimto
3 months ago

Thank you so much – I know that you say the same thing over and over ha but am I missing a “Best Brightener List?” We are in Canada and not everything is available here. I want something to go with Armstrong which we can definitely get.
This is the best website of its kind I have seen incidentally 🙂

Vimto
Vimto
3 months ago

Sorry for the confusion and thank you for your patience – and maybe I have now answered my own question. I presume that “brightener” and “cleaners” are the SAME thing then? If yes, I see your list …

Dan
Dan
3 months ago

Hi, can I get some help with my deck? I got all kinds of answers already, and I hope you will make everything clear. I got
1. Old deck.
2. It has some kind of coating but I’m not sure if it’s paint or stain, but it was peeling of badly. I’ll attach a picture of the only paint can I found in the purchased house that matches this color.
3. Any brand or color will work
4. Unknown
5. Unknown
6. No mold issues
I got most of the peeling parts off but taking everything will do a lifetime, I have a week already in this project with all kinds of sanding equipment, besides power washing.
Thank you.

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Mary
Mary
3 months ago

Thanks for your input. Its a large deck and I have 2 more just like it. so the thought of stripping all of it is overwhelming.

Mary
Mary
3 months ago

1. Old deck
2. Yes
3.different brand, want same color
4. unknown
5. not sure, but likely water based. not sure if semi transparent or semi solid. I want to use oil based.
6. Yes mold, mildew, no sun on part of deck
7. not sure, it failed in 6 months. I didn’t do it.

I’ve power washed and cleaned with diluted bleach water then rinsed. I am planning on sanding. but don’t think I can get ALL stain removed from seats and banisters. is there a brand to use if most of stain is off?. must I clean after sanding? My paint guy says no, but…?

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Mary
Mary
3 months ago

Thanks SO MUCH. A couple more questions.
1. If I sand down to bare wood on horizontal surface can I use a semi transparent or semi solid for the purpose of easier re-application process in future and less slippery.? then use a solid on vertical wood.
2. After reading the article ‘for prepping for a solid stain recoat’, it does not mention to use ‘brightner’ to adjust PH, yet in another article on prepping a deck it says its important NOT to skip this step. I’m assuming its because of using the solid stain?
I appreicate your knowledge base. And will not use bleach in the future!

Jean
Jean
3 months ago

Hi Scott
Here are answers to the questions.
1. Old wood
2.Yes for current coating
3.Same brand -different color
4.Sherwin Williams
5.Waterborne Semi Solid
6.No mold/mildew
7. Not sure. Nothing done for over 4 years. Maybe not done properly the first time. The elements have taken its toll.
Stain is peeling. Not sure what steps to take.

Scott Richardson
Scott Richardson
3 months ago

Hello: I stained our new deck with Australian Timber Oil (Honey Teak color.)(2 years old.) I restrained the deck this last fall as a second coat. I think I put too much stain on. It has a shinny surface and is developing “graying” areas. Can I get a “redo” by stripping the deck to the bare wood and do it over – more carefully?
New wood. Cabo’s Australian Timber Oil. I have liked the Timber Oil product – am willing to switch. Current coat was applied about a year ago, but then I put a second coat on about 6 months ago. No issues with mold or mildew.
The deck is 30 years old, but about 2 years ago we had the deck surface replaced with new wood deck boards. Now we have many of the boards cupping. Is that an issue that needs to be addressed? Only visible problem is that water doesn’t drain away after a rain – it has to evaporate after I sweep or blow most of the water off.
So then, the stain job doesn’t look nice. Can I and should I strip the current stain and re-stain? Should I live with it and be more careful next time the deck needs to be restained? It doesn’t look nice and I want to redo it. Scott in Austin MN PS I have a photo taken with my Iphone, but I can’t figure out how to attach it to this message. I got it saved to this desktop computer, clicking on the paperclip/attachment icon opens where the photo is saved in the computer, but it doesn’t attach to this email. Thanks for you help. Nice Website! End.

Gavin
Gavin
3 months ago

Hey Scott – awesome how involved you are on this site… We have Ipe railings and a bar top on our deck, and after several years of cleaning/applying Ipe Oil, we’re looking to switch brands. (I know it has to be maintained once a year or more, but I’m having to redo the railings 3-4 times a year). From your articles, it seems like Armstrong Clark is the way to go but wanted to get your take on it. Here are the answers to your questions:

New Wood or Older Wood?
Ipe railings + bar top are 5 years old

Does the Deck have a Current Coating?
Ipe Oil

Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color?
Looking to switch to Armstrong Clark or even RAD (our biggest problem is mildew but not sure we can switch to water based without sanding the railings down…? Can we strip them and then use water based?)

Deck Stain Brand Previously Used?
Ipe Oil

What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Oil-based or Water-Based? Clear, Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, or Solid Stain?
Oil-based (I *think* Ipe Oil is semi-transparent?)

Mold or Mildew Issues?
Yes

Reason for Previous Stain Failure?
Not sure. We live in Nashville (humid) and the deck gets a decent amount of sun… quite a bit in the winter.

Would love to know if you recommend just using a cleaner/brightener and then using Armstrong Clark or if we need to strip it first, then cleaner/brightener… if should maybe try the RAD water-based for mildew control…? Thanks ahead of time for your help!

Gavin

Pics attached – I last cleaned and applied Ipe Oil about 4-5 months ago

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Gavin
Gavin
3 months ago

Awesome, Scott. Thanks so much for the quick reply. So I saw the RAD clean + brighten kit… is there a strip + brighten? And do I need to re-strip every year when I redo or just clean + brighten from then on?

Gavin
Gavin
3 months ago

Perfect. Thanks again for your help, Scott!

Gavin
Gavin
3 months ago

Sorry, Scott, last thing… just double-checking this is the correct stain? Didn’t see one specifically marked for exotic hardwoods:

https://www.restore-a-deck.com/restore-a-deck-wood-stain/restore-a-deck-wood-stain-1-gallon/flypage.tpl.html

Gavin
Gavin
3 months ago

Brilliant. Thanks again!

Gavin
Gavin
2 months ago

Hey Scott – got the RAD stripper/brightener kit and started stripping the wood railing. We just noticed that the stripper is also taking the black paint off our black metallic posts…! How can we strip the wood without damaging our posts/cable rail? And, the deck itself is composite… is it possible the stripper will damage that as well?

Gavin
Gavin
2 months ago

I think we let it sit on the spindles too long… So, at this point, to avoid that happening any more, we’re sanding all the railings down. (including the one that already got treated with stripper) On that one already-treated rail, once we sand it, do we still need to do brightener before staining? What about the remaining rails that are just getting sanded? Brightener necessary or just go straight from sanding to staining?

Gavin
Gavin
2 months ago

Cool, thanks. Can the brightener have any adverse affects like the stripper? (i.e. – causing discoloration or paint issues with the posts/composite decking)

Gavin
Gavin
2 months ago

Sounds good. Thanks, Scott…

P. Hettich
P. Hettich
3 months ago

Hello Scott. Here are my answers to your questions.

  1. Wolmanized wood deck is about 35 years old and restained several times. Not sure which type of wood used, but is not cedar or oak.
  2. About 2/3 of defective Behr Deckover has been scraped and/or sanded (coarse then medium) since attached photo taken. The posts and cross rails still adhere well.
  3. I must maintain color (light green) to match house trim but very willing to change stain brands. Your best rated brands seem to offer limited colors w/o option to match.
  4. defective Behr Deckover used twice.
  5. Deckover was water based but willing to use either oil or water.
  6. No mold or mildew was decteced
  7. Stain failure: class action suit against Behr Deckover. Should I now use a cleaner, or would a power wash be sufficient?
  8. Have attempted to attach photo.

Thank you in advance for your advice. P Hettich

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P. Hettich
P. Hettich
3 months ago

Scott,
Thank you for your prompt reply.
Since that photo was taken, I have spent many, many, many hours sanding and scraping but some of the old stain still remains (about 1/4 of total) in crevices, nail holes, and low areas. I am aware that staining would reveal a contrast between the rougher wood surfaces and the smooth remaining Deckover, but I cannot spend any more time on this project. What are my options? Thank you. PH

Nate
Nate
3 months ago

Do I need wood cleaner or brightner for a new redwood deck, 3 months old?

LeRita
LeRita
3 months ago

Hi Scott,
We recently purchased a house in the pacific northwest that has a wooden deck. We do not know what stain or sealer was previously used or the last application. There was some green mold on part of the deck when we arrived this summer. I used a brush and water with castile soap to remove it. Attached is a current picture of the deck which is about 170 square feet. I would appreciate your advice on what steps to take to clean and seal the deck before the rainy season which is coming soon.

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LeRita
LeRita
3 months ago

Do you have product suggestions or instructions for the strip and brighten of the wood? We’ve never had wood decks before.

joshwastein
joshwastein
3 months ago

Hello,

We are first time home owners living in Alberta, Canada. We were going to:

  • Tighten all the nails/screws. There are no splinters.
  • use Thompson’s® WaterSeal® Wood Deck Cleaner & Brightener and a deck brush
  • followed by power washing
  • and then using Thompson’s® WaterSeal® Waterproofer Plus Clear Wood Protector – white can with grin trim writing
  • We then wanted to use Olympic Triumph Woodland Oil Transparent Stain plus sealant (Mountain Cedar)….perhaps 1 weekend later or after coming winter.
  • After finding this forum I understand that I may need to clean and power wash once again before applying the Olympic Triumph.

I can’t tell if sanding is required.

We have never had a deck before and are not sure if this is the correct approach.

Answers:

  1. New Wood or Older Wood? : Seems to be the original deck. The house was built in 2009.
  2. Does the Deck have a Current Coating?: Looks like the deck was painted blue. There are spots of paint that I can peel off by simply pulling it. Also, in certain wood panels there are dents that have this paint. Again, I can just pull lightly and the paint just peels off.
  3. Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color?: We have no idea if a stain was ever applied. Definitely painted though.
  4. Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? Enter “unknown” if you do not know.: Unknown.
  5. What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Oil-based or Water-Based? Clear, Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, or Solid Stain?: When doing the wiping test with a cotton ball, only came off.
  6. Mold or Mildew Issues?: No. If it’s there it is very mild and not visible.
  7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure?: New owners. Looks like the deck was not maintained.
  8. You Must Include Picture(s) of the Current Condition.: Pictures attached. All pictures are prior to doing cleaning/power washing.
  9. Note that our deck is a high deck (about 7 feet high) with a lower deck attached to the base of the stairs.

I am instruction oriented. If you can tell me what to do and what to buy to get it done, I am capable of doing the work.

In Alberta, Canada the mercury can dip to -40C feels like -50C in winters. That is -40F feels like -58F.

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joshwastein
joshwastein
3 months ago

Thanks Scott.
Can I get away with a stripper to remove the paint instead of Sanding?

At this point, are you able to recommend

— a deck cleaner/brightener that is actually sold inside Canada?

— an oil stain which can easily be reapplied after cleaning and power washing 2 or 3 years from now. Again, must be sold inside Canada?

We have booked vacation days to complete the deck starting this weekend and it’s too late to order TWP or AC. I understand the quality will be lower. However, your recommendation is still better than my best educated guess.

Need to just drive to a store and buy something.

Last edited 3 months ago by joshwastein
Rae
Rae
3 months ago

I am preparing cedar siding to applying Defy Extreme Wood Stain for Hardwoods. I have tried the stripper and brightener method, and it is a great method. I learned that I cannot count on having enough well water to complete the job, however. Consequently, I have stained the bottom 8 feet or so of my house, and I need to finish the higher clapboards. My current approach is to 1) sand with 80 grit, 2) final sand with 120 grit, 3) wipe properly diluted brightener on with a cloth, 4) wait 20 minutes, and wipe the brightener off with a clean wet cloth, 4) and apply stain after two or more days of dry weather. You can see in the photo where I have sanded above the scaffolding.

My first question is about the proper grit of sand paper, and the second is whether I need to apply brightener to freshly sanded cedar.

Question 1: I think I have read not to sand “too fine” or the sanding dust will clog the pores of the wood. I won’t be power washing to clear the pores, so this might be a concern. Is 120 grit good for the final sanding?

Question 2: Do you recommend that I use brightener on freshly sanded cedar?

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Marian Witucki
Marian Witucki
3 months ago

Is pressure washing with just water sufficient enough to prep a deck for previously stained wood. It was stained with Behr Deckover.

Marian Witucki
Marian Witucki
3 months ago

What do you suggest we use?

Gem
Gem
3 months ago

We have an older deck. Previously stained in May 2019 with Behr deckover. It is peeling in most areas that are exposed to full weather. The stain has held up well in areas that have an overhang, so stripping there will be tough. Our thought were to brush to remove loose spots, sand the exposed areas. Do we power wash after sanding? But unsure what to do in areas that it has held up great. And even more unsure about what to use to recoat

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Gem
Gem
3 months ago

Thank you.

Chris Coxe
Chris Coxe
4 months ago

Hi Scott, This deck is 10X22 and was built and stained between 2019 and 2021 when we bought the house. The picture of the stain can is the only thing I found so I assume that this is what they used. As you can tell the covering did not last very long and we are going to redo the stain. I guess I am trying to decide weather a cleaning would be sufficient or should I strip it and then use the brightener. Would prefer the water based stains but want this to look great so I am looking for advice on that. From looking at the wood I am leaning toward a colored stain but would use a semi transparent if you thought it would turn out ok. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks, Chris

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mackey
mackey
4 months ago

Hi Scott Paul, any advice on correcting this sticky situation would be greatly appreciated!!!!

please help we have a three year old redwood deck in South Lake Tahoe, CA.

Last year time got away from us before winter and we did not stain the deck again. so when applying stain about a week ago someone thought to leave the puddles on the deck boards and the wood would soak up the extra stain.

Which now I know the wood never will soak up the excess stain. We used an oil based semi-translucent stain. (Preservawood) to fix Weve tried mineral spirts to no avail. And now think we have to sand it all and start over 😕What is the best option to fix the sticky deck…. Oh and this was stained about a week ago now. tacky deck after staining.

Please help
Thank you Alicia

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Alicia
Alicia
4 months ago

Thanks for your response 🙂 is sanding an option or not a good idea? Just curious?

Kristen
Kristen
4 months ago

I have a porch that is a little over a year old. I didn’t intend to wait this long, but unfortunately, I am just now staining it for the first time. I want to do a semi-transparent stain. I was researching how to prep the wood and found your site. I ordered the Restore-A-Deck cleaner and brightener to use prior to staining. It has been raining almost every day and we haven’t had a forecast for several dry days in a row for me to clean and stain. In the meantime, I began sanding to remove the stamped ink from the wood. After sanding these spots, I noticed a huge difference as it was removing the grayish top layer from the sun. Should I sand the entire thing prior to staining or will the cleaner and brightener remove that graying? I have no prior experience with this kind of thing and want to make sure I get it right because it seems as though the prep may be the most important part of the staining process. Thanks for your time and I appreciate this service. Your site has been a very helpful tool!

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Kristen
Kristen
4 months ago

Well that will probably work out great since it may be a month before we have enough days without rain for me to stain it. Thank you so much!

Charlie
Charlie
4 months ago

Hi Scott! I have an unstained cedar deck that is 1 year old. I know I should use a wood cleaner but do I still need to power wash it? Also what’s the order? Power wash and then wood cleaner? Thanks!

John Hesler
John Hesler
4 months ago

13-year old redwood deck, previously coated multiple times with Behr Transparent Weather Proofing All-In-One Finish/Wood Coating. The coating is peeling/worn where exposed to sun, rain, and foot traffic. Would like to remove coating and replace with something that showcases the redwood grain and color while protecting the wood. Suggestions would be appreciated.

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Braden
Braden
4 months ago

What a great service Scott! I have a deck in sorry shape! We used a deck cleaner and scrubbed it with a brush then restained it a year or two ago but it didn’t last and it looks bad now. Now I have a power washer.
1. Old (20+ years?)
2. Mostly worn away
3. I can do whatever is needed to salvage it
4. Olympic Maximum stain & sealant semi transparent
5. The back says Acrylic/oil formula
6. Yes
7. Current condition/age of wood, improperly prepped last time(?)
8. Attached

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Braden
Braden
4 months ago

Thanks Scott! I want to dive into item number five a little bit deeper. Given the condition, do you think I should tend toward a particular stain type to be truly happy with the results? I live in Iowa where we get all seasons.

Braden
Braden
4 months ago

I appreciate the detailed answer. Focusing more on prep (necessarily), and keeping intensive stripping and cleaning products in mind (RAD for instance), how much realistic good can I expect this product to do in restoring and revitalizing the very neglected, UV damaged portions? Clarifying and setting up expectations, should I anticipate still needing to sand extensively to get down to good wood color or will the chemical combination stripping and brightening do much of the heavy lifting for me based on what you’ve seen or is that an unreasonable expectation of the product given the age and condition of the surface?

Braden
Braden
4 months ago

Scott, the area in question was previously under some furniture so it was not subject to the sun. The Olympic stain that I mentioned is a semi transparent and the only thing we used last time. My understanding is that the RAD stripping and brightening procedure (especially with the enhancement products) should be effective with gray surface area?

Braden
Braden
4 months ago

Scott, I sanded a few boards over the weekend. We get through the gray color and semi transparent stain easily enough with a belt sander. However, areas in between the boards and in cracks are trickier to reach. I’m thinking the chemical process will eliminate much of the manual sanding on the top of the boards for the gray and old stain and help with reaching in cracks and in between boards. Is this a reasonable expectation of the RAD product?

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Jenny
Jenny
4 months ago

Thank you for all of your helpful posts. Our house was built in 2017/2018, and I have no idea what products were used on the exterior wood surfaces – just that they look awful. I am posting pictures of the front deck/steps and also the front door and garage door in case you can offer advice on those, too. The deck is peeling and has mildew, and the doors, well…just shoddy work. Thank you for your help!

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ASinano
ASinano
4 months ago
  1. New Wood or Older Wood?

ac2 pressure treated pine from menards.
new wood, installed today

  1. Does the Deck have a Current Coating?

no

  1. Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color?

planning to use twp 100 oil based

  1. Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? Enter “unknown” if you do not know.

none used

  1. What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Oil-based or Water-Based? Clear, Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, or Solid Stain?

planning to use twp 100 oil based semi-transparent

  1. Mold or Mildew Issues?

no

  1. Reason for Previous Stain Failure?

none yet..

  1. You Must Include Picture(s) of the Current Condition.

I will have to wait 3-4 months for it to weather so maybe October? Or would it be best to wait for summer next year to stain?

I will need to prep and clean after weather period and then apply twp stain?

thank you for your input and sorry i am new to this if I don’t make a whole lot of sense.

thank you again for helping me and the rest of us, much appreciated!

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Steven
Steven
4 months ago

Thank you for being so responsive to these comments, I rarely post to these myself but as a first time homeowner I am in unchartered DIY territory.

  1. New Wood or Older Wood? – older wood, not sure the exact age but it’s overall in very good shape (or so said our home inspector), with just a few boards showing some rot
  2. Does the Deck have a Current Coating? – yes, but it is mostly faded and the boards are greyed everywhere except one square patch in the center where I believe the previous owners had an outdoor rug (see pictures). The Behr All in One wood cleaner I’ve been using has done a good job of lifting most of the lingering stain but is struggling to remove it in this one patch.
  3. Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? Not sure what brand was previously used, but we are planning to use Behr, semi-transparent and a similar though slightly darker/more chocolate tone compared to the reddish tone in the pictures.
  4. Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? Enter “unknown” if you do not know. Unknown.
  5. What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Oil-based or Water-Based? Clear, Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, or Solid Stain? Unknown, but I don’t think it was solid based on the patch from under the previous outdoor rug, maybe semi transparent or semi solid. Not sure whether it was oil based or water based, but water beads up rather than soaking in when applied in areas where there is remaining stain.
  6. Mold or Mildew Issues? Not really, a few spots with some greenish growth but that was easily removed with a power washer.
  7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure? Not sure, but guessing it was just past it’s lifetime.
  8. You Must Include Picture(s) of the Current Condition.

Thank you again in advance for the guidance! I’m hoping to avoid using a stripper if I can because there’s a lot of landscaping around that I want to keep healthy, and I considered renting a sander. In either case I’m not sure if I’d need to do the whole deck or just the patch where the stain seems to not be coming up from the wood cleaner.

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Steven
Steven
4 months ago

Thank you! What stain brand do you recommend? Is it an issue that I’ve used Behr wood cleaner and then switch to a different brand for the stain?

Steven
Steven
4 months ago

Thank you! My first pass with the stripper worked wonders. I think I need to do some spot work and then of course the railings. Any tips/tools to use to make the railing cleaning an easier task?

Once I’m finished, I’m now thinking I will purchase Restore a Deck semi-transparent stain. Since I’m trying to “start fresh,” should I plan to put down two coats of RAD or just one will do? I have about 500sqft to cover, and I’m thinking I’ll try to over-purchase a bit since it seems like it will last three years unopened and I assume I will need to put a new coat down in the next three years.

Also thinking towards the future, will I need to strip the stain again if I stick with the same manufacturer and tone? Or just clean/brighten and then reapply the stain?

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Tim Dempsey
Tim Dempsey
4 months ago

Hi Scott, love this website and have found it super helpful! I am in northern NJ, and have a porch/deck that was built in 1967 and is original to the house as far as I know. I’ve heard conflicting reports of the deck wood being redwood or douglas fir. It has benefitted over the years from being covered by the extended roof of the house, as well as shade from trees. I’ve owned the home for 3 years, and the previous owner (since 1972) told me that he had used McCloskey Man o War marine spar varnish on it, touching up areas as needed (mostly frequently on the edges where some sunlight and precipitation do reach the porch. Since I’ve moved in, I have not yet touched it up and at this point I’m committed to having the deck refinished. My plan is to have my contractor do the following, and I’ve added questions where noted:

  1. Power wash the entire porch including railing and ceiling, where there is some light mold (it has been a wet year). Then allow to dry thoroughly (will probably be at least a week or so due to his and my availability).
  2. (Probably take care of painting the ceiling/posts and railing at this point)
  3. Sand deck flooring with a 60-80 grit sander (I believe a drum sander unless you recommend the buffing machine instead).
  4. Rinse deck after sanding; please let me know if I should use a cleaner at this point.
  5. I understand this is where a brightener could be used; I spoke with a sales rep at restore-a-deck and they said this might not be necessary.
  6. After allowing deck to dry a few hours, apply 2 coats of RAD stain using wet-on-wet technique.

Can you let me know if this process sounds reasonable, and also whether or not the cleaner and brightener should be used after sanding? Very much appreciated!

Best,
Tim

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Tim Dempsey
Tim Dempsey
4 months ago

Thanks very much! Going to keep the marine varnish on the top rail as it’s thicker and in good shape there, and the lower parts of the railing appear to be painted so I’ll have those painted too, with a low luster paint.

Tim Dempsey
Tim Dempsey
4 months ago

I will skip the cleaner and get the brightener, thanks again!

Tim Dempsey
Tim Dempsey
4 months ago
Reply to  Tim Dempsey

Hi Scott, following up on the lower portions of the rail, including the spindles and 2×4’s etc. I contacted the previous owner and also found the stain previously used. It is Cabot Solid Color Acrylic Siding Stain, 0806 Neutral Base. It was powerwashed earlier this week. Is any additional prep needed before re-staining, and do you recommend using the same stain? I saw your review of the deck version of this stain which is unfavorable. Thanks very much, -Tim

Last edited 4 months ago by Tim Dempsey
Tim Dempsey
Tim Dempsey
4 months ago
Reply to  Tim Dempsey

Actually the owner did not use the Cabot mentioned in my recent comment; that was used for shed siding. The owner says he recalls using a preservative/stain and didn’t recommend using a paint since it would be too hard to maintain, so that’s promising at least.

Peeling is fairly minimal on the lower rail/spindle components, so I’m hoping I can get away with not stripping. Fingers crossed, let me know your thoughts. Thanks Scott!

[I tried editing the above comment but can’t seem to do that, sorry for the multiple posts!]

Last edited 4 months ago by Tim Dempsey