Best Deck Prep? Clean, Strip, or Sand the Deck? 4.8/5 (66)

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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Chris Coxe
Chris Coxe
2 days 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(@mackey)
3 days 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
3 days ago

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

Kristen
Kristen
6 days 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
3 days 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
9 days 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
10 days 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
12 days 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
11 days 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
10 days 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
2 days 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
2 days 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
12 days 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
17 days 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
22 days 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
22 days 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
21 days 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
23 days 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
23 days 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
23 days ago

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

Tim Dempsey
Tim Dempsey
20 days 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 20 days ago by Tim Dempsey
Tim Dempsey
Tim Dempsey
20 days 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 20 days ago by Tim Dempsey
Tim Dempsey
Tim Dempsey
2 days ago

Hi Scott, we wound up sanding the lower railing components and most of the solid stain was removed by that. I have RAD solid stain (espresso) on the way for the railings. The deck has also been sanded and the redwood looks great. There is also wood paneling on the exterior wall on the porch which has been sanded – it is a lighter tone than the flooring. Should any of these surfaces be cleaned with the RAD cleaner, or can we just skip to using the brightener before using the stains? Planning to use RAD light walnut for the redwood floor and Defy light walnut for the wall.

Tim Dempsey
Tim Dempsey
20 days ago
Reply to  Tim Dempsey

One other question regarding the floor: do you think a certain tint would look best on this wood? I was originally thinking natural but now I’m wondering if light or dark walnut might look better. I know it’s a matter of preference but would like to hear what your own preference might be. Thanks! Best, -Tim

Larry
Larry
26 days ago

Hi,
I purchased a cedar pergola kit last year. The cedar arrived pre stained but the kit stated that it was not sealed. What is the best means to prep and stain? Would like to use a semi transparent stain that is easy to maintain going forward.

  1. New Wood or Older Wood? 1 year
  2. Does the Deck have a Current Coating? Yes
  3. Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? Switching brands
  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
  6. Mold or Mildew Issues? No
  7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure? No sealant

Thank you

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Brett Barkelar
Brett Barkelar
28 days ago
  1. New Wood or Older Wood?

Wood is about 5 years old

  1. Does the Deck have a Current Coating?

Yes Cabot semi transparent stain

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

not sure what i should do. This version didn’t hold up that well. Additionally Oak Brown appeared a little more red than brown on my wood.

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

cabot semi transparent stain – oak brown color

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

semi transparent

  1. Mold or Mildew Issues?

some mildew that was under a outdoor rug

  1. Reason for Previous Stain Failure?

probably user error in the application

  1. pics attached
Brett Barkelar
Brett Barkelar
28 days ago

Ah worked better on my phone

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Vicki
Vicki
29 days ago

Hi, just confirming. I have a new pressure-treated pine deck (replaced boards approx. 11 months ago) – did not stain or seal. I just bought Armstrong Clark stain and want to prepare the deck. Being it hasn’t been stained or sealed at all should I just brighten prior to staining? Or clean and brighten? Thank you!

Vicki
Vicki
29 days ago

Thank you!!

Jenn Baker
Jenn Baker
1 month ago

Hi. I appreciate your advice. Have researched and still have questions. I pressure washed the deck and cleaned it with wood cleaner. Was thinking of sanding and then brightening before staining. Not sure if I should use water or oil based. I am thinking a walnut transparent type color. I am concerned that the railing being newer won’t take stain. Images are just after cleaning and base is darker than usual i found it difficult to scrub the spindles and railing as well with cleaner. How do you know if enough? same with brightener? Thank you in advance

  1. New Wood or Older Wood? BOTH, RAILING NEW 2021, STAIRS AND DECK FLOOR 2019, RAILINGS AND FOUNDATION 2005
  2. Does the Deck have a Current Coating? RAILINGS AND POST UNDERNEATH HAVE WOLMAN ONE COAT TRANSPARENT WATER BASED…I THINK.
  3. Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? WANT A SEMI TRANSPARENT OR TRANSPARENT DARKER STAIN
  4. Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? WOLMAN I THINK
  5. SEE ABOVE
  6. Mold or Mildew Issues? NO
  7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure? AG AND BOARDS CHANGED OUT
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Jenn Baker
Jenn Baker
1 month ago

Replying again as I don’t see my reply. Sorry if duplicate. I’d sanding needed, does it happen between stripper and brightener or after brightener? Scattered showers due today, ok to still strip and brighten? If not, how much dry weather do I need? I know I need dry weather before and after staining

Christine Cremeens
Christine Cremeens
1 month ago

Getting ready to stain my existing deck with Defy extreme wood stain in solid black. We replaced the deck boards late last year. The rest of the deck is 30 + years old. I want to stain the underneath of the deck also. How do I go about prepping this to stain?

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Hank Bird
Hank Bird
1 month ago

Re prepping a deck. Existing deck is 20 years old. Previously sanded and stained with Behr solid water-based stain (fairly light tan color) a couple of times, the last a few years ago. Peeling and wearing away rapidly; want to re-coat with Olympic Summit solid stain, a little darker. For prep, do I sand? strip? clean? brighten? Or a combination?

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Gisella Bonda-Riva
Gisella Bonda-Riva
1 month ago

My question is about a new shed plywood floor (cabana) that I oil based stained then white washed and sanded now I’m looking to seal it. Store recommended using Wolman raincoat water based clear coat. What are your thoughts and how do you maintain it? Thank you.

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Gisella Bonda-Riva
Gisella Bonda-Riva
1 month ago

This is an inside floor of the shed. Does that make a difference? What could I use?

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Diana
Diana
1 month ago

Hi, We live in the Pacific Northwest. We installed an Alaskan Yellow Cedar deck in March 2021. In May, we cleaned the deck using a Messmer deck cleaner. The deck wood turned fuzzy after cleaning and hosing it off. After much back and forth with the stain vendor we finish the deck using Messmer semi-transparent oil stain. In the process, we finished 1/2 of the deck and left the rags in the garage for 2 hours knowing we needed to place them in water. The rags spontaneously combusted causing a lot of damage to our home. After 10 months we are back in our home and what to fix our deck without a ton of sanding. I did sand the facia boards and columns on the front of the deck because they had greyed. It’s not super dirty and we do have areas under the overhang that look pretty good. See attached. We plan to use oil based, semi-transparent cedar tone stain. How do we proceed and what do we use to clean, do we brighten and what stain do you recommend? On a side note, I was born and raised in Metro Detroit. Scott, we need your help! Thanks, Diana

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Diana
Diana
1 month ago

Appreciate your help.

I grew up in Royal Oak. My brother lives in Bloomfield Hills.

Andrey
Andrey
1 month ago

Hello people!!
New by here.
Last fall I bought a house with nice fresh looking deck. In Michigan, we had lots of snow over winter and only under entry rug color of the wood stayed close to when we bought it. Seems like wood was not sealed/stained (pictures below)
Question: should I just power wash it and stain (honestly I love only natural colors of the wood), or sand it all -and then seal it. Or any other options (trying to save some immediate $$ till I can afford the rebuild)

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Dave Sarocka
Dave Sarocka
1 month ago

Greetings,

I am planning to re-stain my deck this summer, and would love to have your advice. It is a large wraparound deck measuring about 500-600 square feet. Age about 35 years; I am unsure of the wood type since the deck was already in place when we purchased the house in 2009. I have stained the deck twice; once around 2010, and a second time about 5-7 years ago, so it’s definitely due. Both times I used Rymar brand oil-based stain/sealer; I’m pretty sure it was the extreme weather variety that I’m linking here, except I don’t know what color I used. About 6 weeks ago I gave the deck a fairly thorough cleaning using a mixture of OxyClean, borax, dish soap, and hot water (this recipe was recommended on Bob Villa’s website as being plant-safe; this is a raised deck and we have ferns growing below, as well as cats that spend time in this area). This pictures that I’ve attached were taken today. Since it’s been over a month since the cleaning, and there is some mildew and algae, my tentative plan is this: (1) Do an additional cleaning using the same recipe noted above; (2) Power wash; (3) Sand if necessary; (4) Stain using Ready Seal oil-based semi-transparent Stain and Seal, probably their natural cedar tone.

I would very much appreciate your comments and advice. My main questions: Is sanding necessary? Do you recommend that I use a deck brightener prior to staining? Thumbs up or thumbs down on my choice of Ready Seal? Is one coat sufficient?

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Miguel Esteban
Miguel Esteban
1 month ago

We’re using the Restore a Deck Cleaner and it is not working well. We installed alaskan yellow cedar last summer. Per recommendation on this site, we allowed the wood to age over the winter to get rid of the mill glaze and open up the wood pores. We live in the Seattle area so naturally we got some mildew in quite a few places as well as ingrained dirt, etc. We gently pressure washed today. Then applied the cleaner with a pump sprayer in a small section. Then scrubbed by hand, then rinsed off with a hose. We’ve done this 2x and the green is not coming out. We tried a gentle pressure wash again. And still isn’t coming out. Any suggestions? Thank you.

Miguel Esteban
Miguel Esteban
1 month ago

Ah. So the brightener helps as well… I will report back after we have finished this stage. Thank you.

Duane
Duane
1 month ago

I’m about to stain my backyard decks and walkways (all redwood) with TWP 1500 series stain, and I’m not sure what steps I should take to prep due to various ages of the wood and some prior treatment. The primary upper deck surface was rebuilt a year ago with new redwood, has not been stained or sealed, and has aged gray (first pic). The wrap-around steps were added about ten years ago and I’ve periodically used Behr transparent waterproofing wood finish on them, although most of the latest coat has worn off (second pic). Finally, a lower redwood deck that was built about five years ago has a relatively intact coat of Behr transparent waterproofing wood finish on it (third pic). None of the decking have mold or mildew issues. Questions: do I need to use a stripper to remove the waterproofing finish or will the TWP restore-a-deck cleaner remove it? Or, optionally, could I rent a belt sander to remove the old finish? Should I sand any of my decking prior to, or after, cleaning and brightening? Thanks in advance for your help.

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Duane Dykema
Duane Dykema
1 month ago

Hello. I’m about to stain my backyard decks and walkways (all redwood) with TWP 1500 series stain. Before staining I wanted to know the best prep action to take. I rebuilt the main upper deck about a year ago with all new redwood and I have not stained it or done anything to it (it’s already aged gray). The wrap-around deck stairs were installed about ten years ago and I had periodically used a water based sealer on those which has mostly worn off. The lower deck was installed about five years ago and it also has a water based sealer on it which is in better shape. Because of the various states of the redwood (some new with no treatment, others variously aged and with water based sealant) I was intending to sand all of it first, then clean and brighten with Gemini Restore-a-deck after sanding. Is this the best approach? Thanks for your help.

Last edited 1 month ago by Duane Dykema
Duane
Duane
1 month ago

Hi Scott. I just completed a new post with a better explanation along with posted photos. I hope this helps. Thanks.

Dev
Dev
1 month ago

New house (to me) and I’m not sure what the current coating is. What prep is needed and what new coating would be recommended? Thanks!

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Doug U
Doug U
1 month ago

What are the advantages/disadvantages of tung oil compared to the stains you recommend? The tung oil is a blend of tung oil, pine oil and a zinc additive.

ChadR
ChadR
1 month ago

1. New Wood or Older Wood? Newer, I believe the deck was built in 2017 (maybe that’s old).
2. Does the Deck have a Current Coating? Yes
3. Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? Switching brands (Recommendations?)
4. Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? Behr Transparent Waterproofing
5. What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Oil-based or Water-Based? Clear, Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, or Solid Stain? See #4 above.
6. Mold or Mildew Issues? Probably mildew.
7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure? Poor maintenance (and possibly stain selection based on some of the comments that I’ve read) from the previous owner.

Thank you in advance!

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JennyB
JennyB
1 month ago
  1. New Wood or Older Wood? —newer built 2019
  2. Does the Deck have a Current Coating? —- Yes
  3. Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? — we want to switch
  4. Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? Enter “unknown” if you do not know. — BM arborcoat
  5. What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Oil-based or Water-Based? Clear, Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, or Solid Stain? —translucent
  6. Mold or Mildew Issues? —YES! Our main issue. deck is under a lot of shade and often tree debris. When we bought house it had been vacant a while and not cleared and despite being new deck in 2019 in early 2020 had signs of black growth. Have tried paying power wash companies and it improves some but never have been able to get all stains off. Concerned about the arborcoat continuing to be a problem based on your review and want to remove it. Welcome recs for new stain to use after. It is a very very large deck, spans our entire house, one story tall on one end
  7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure? — some combo of above- poor quality product, I suspect initially stain applied when debris was on deck, deck in shade and not kept cleared a period of time

thank you for any help! We are so frustrated with this deck and it’ll be a huge undertaking, want to do it right.

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JennyB
JennyB
1 month ago

Thank you. I thought we’d have to sand to really get the moldy/mildewy stained areas like in the photos. What about the rest of the deck, in the non horizontal surface areas, which still look totally covered w the BM product? Would you try to remove w chemicals only? It would take a week to sand it all off. Adding pics.

Afterwards we were thinking either Ready Seal or Armstrong and Clark, mold/mildew resistance and ease of application are the biggest factors for us, does that seem like a good choice?

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JennyB
JennyB
1 month ago

Thank you so much. I really appreciate the help. I like the idea of two tone deck and long term that seems like the most ideal for ease of maintenance with this size deck. Even with that shiny coat of arbor coat on the verticals can we get away with just power washing (any product at all? Or just water?) and then applying one of the solid stains recommended in the two tone deck article? For horizontal surfaces the RAD + 2 additives then sand whatever is residual, then brightener and finally stain?

Angela
Angela
1 month ago

New Wood or Older Wood? New pressure treated pine- about 2 years old
Does the Deck have a Current Coating? Husband and I applied Cabot Australian Timber Oil in Natural 2 days ago on Saturday.
Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? First application- will use Armstrong Clark next time.
Deck Stain Brand Previously used? Cabot Australian Timber Oil
What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Oil-based- semi-transparent
Mold or Mildew Issues? No.
Reason for Previous Stain Failure? Several wet, shiny and sticky areas. Mineral spirits didn’t remove all of it – should we sand or use the stripper/brightener suggested?

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Angela
Angela
1 month ago

It says Superior 3 oil formula. Thanks!

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Angela
Angela
1 month ago

Thanks so much for responding. Do you think I’ll need to add the additives to the Restore-A-Deck stripper?

Angela
Angela
1 month ago

Ok! One more question! We stopped staining when we got to our stairs. They are about 1 year old and have not been prepped so no stain was applied. Should I also order the RAD cleaner for those or just use the stripper since we will be stripping our deck? And of course brightener on both!

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Angela
Angela
1 month ago

New wood – pressure treated pine.
Husband and I applied Cabot Australian Timber Oil in Natural on Saturday (semi-transparent.)
We have numerous areas that have wet looking/sticky areas. After reading your articles we realize our mistakes. We tried mineral spirits on a couple of spots but it didn’t help much. Should we try sanding or just use the stripper and brightener that’s been suggested and start over?

Jim Meyers
Jim Meyers
1 month ago

Hi, I have come to your site late in the deck restoring process. I have a two year old treated lumber deck that I just stained with oil semi-transparent. The stain was applied unevenly so some areas are light, and heavy areas have a shine and are tacky. I have also noticed the dark brown color gets hot to bare feet.

How do I go about removing the stain and restraining it with a natural wood color?

Jim Meyers
Jim Meyers
1 month ago

Sherwin-Williams – SuperDeck

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Jim Meyers
Jim Meyers
1 month ago

Yes, oil based

Albert Johnson
Albert Johnson
1 month ago

I sent questions to your site several days ago. It said “waiting for approval”. Did you get it or did I do something wrong. If you did respond how do I find it. Thank you

Albert Johnson
Albert Johnson
1 month ago

Sorry I must of posted it wrong. My front deck has some kind of stain on it that has a pimple type texture to it. It is like cement. It is peeling in some areas and I cannot figure out how to remove it. I canot use any stripper because my cedar siding meets the deck boards and I have painted wooden railings around the deck. I have used a scrapper, a viberating palm sander, tried pressure washing it and nothing works. I do not know the brand name of the stain [ someone thinks it is rustoleum deck over product.] I hope that you can tell me what to do. I plan on using a solid stain on the deck. I will try to post some pictures. Thank you in advance for your help.

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Albert Johnson
Albert Johnson
1 month ago

Thanks for the info. Will a drum floor sander take this off or should I rent a different type of sander? Some of the boards are cupped and uneven. This is going to be a tough job to remove this. Can I just use a floor paint instead or am I asking for big problems painting the floor. I live in upstate NY Thank You!

Matt
Matt
1 month ago

Hey Scott,
Thank you for this website and the information you provide.  I have been reading your articles and would appreciate your advice on what needs to be done with my 2 decks. Both decks are pressure treated and around 12 years old. Pool deck is in full sun.

I have Sherwin Williams Deckscapes/Superdeck oil based semi-transparent on them with the last coatings around 3 years ago.  It has been stained at least 3 times with the SW. There is mold and it varies in areas.  I have replaced some boards over the past 5 years and am currently replacing some more that have water damage.

I still have 3 gallons of the SW left but will not use it.  After I replace the remaining boards I plan to stain in the fall once the pool is covered.  

I am on the fence on whether to use a water base or the oil based stain. I want to stay with semi-transparent.  Please advise on my prep and re-staining options.  Should I go with a darker color or something similar? I know I will have to reapply every 2-3 years but would like to avoid having to strip again before reapplication  Thanks!

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Christian Ramirez
Christian Ramirez
1 month ago

Hi Scott, your site has helped me a bunch already, thanks in advance.

New Wood or Older Wood? Older Wood
Does the Deck have a Current Coating? Yes
Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? Switching brands
Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? Enter “unknown” if you do not know. I believe previous owner used ACE hardware Wood Royal Semi-Transparent Latex.
What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Oil-based or Water-Based? Clear, Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, or Solid Stain? Semi-Transparent Acrylic Latex
Mold or Mildew Issues? Not really, few small spots (see pictures)
Reason for Previous Stain Failure? Deck stain is fading / chipping & wood is cracking. Deck was installed in 2018 by the previous owner and we live in Michigan so the deck is subject to hot humid & dry freezing climate cycles.

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Christian Ramirez
Christian Ramirez
1 month ago

Great, thank you so much for the quick response!! After completing the prep and applying a Restore A Deck semi transparent stain, how do you recommend maintaining it after? Hoping to not have to strip & sand every 2-3 years. Thanks!

Christian Ramirez
Christian Ramirez
1 month ago

Thanks Scott, you rock!

Darci
Darci
1 month ago

New Wood or Older Wood? Old wood
Does the Deck have a Current Coating? Yes
Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? Same brand and same color
Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? TWP
What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Oil-based
Mold or Mildew Issues? In a few spots
Reason for Previous Stain Failure? Faded
You Must Include Picture(s) of the Current Condition

Is there a way I can fill in where the wood has splintered?

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Darci
Darci
1 month ago

Do I need to strip it or can I just clean and brighten it with RAD?

Spencer
Spencer
1 month ago

1. New Wood or Older Wood? Deck was built in 2016 with pressure treated pine.
2. Does the Deck have a Current Coating? Yes – Olympic Elite Woodland Oil (transparent), Mountain Cedar. I cleaned and reapplied the same stain in each of the first 5 years, but skipped last year.
3. Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? I can’t seem to find the exact same stain this year (supply chain issues at Home Depot?), so I’m considering switching to an Olympic semi-solid. I’ll try to match the color as closely as possible.
4. Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? Enter “unknown” if you do not know. Olympic Elite Woodland Oil (transparent), Mountain Cedar
5. What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Oil-based or Water-Based? Clear, Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, or Solid Stain? Oil based, transparent
6. Mold or Mildew Issues? No
7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure? Not sure, it has always needed a new coat each year. I put an outdoor rug over parts of it, and we have snow and ice in winter (NJ)



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carolyn h
carolyn h
2 months ago
  1. New Wood or Older Wood? Older
  2. Does the Deck have a Current Coating? Yes
  3. Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? Switching
  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? Looks like sort of semi solid with a sheen, maybe applied too thick?
  6. Mold or Mildew Issues? Some moss in spots
  7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure? Not sure. we bought this house a year ago. Stain in peeling in spots. Worn in spots. Thick in spots. It is slippery when wet, bad for the little kids at our house. I love the look of a two tone deck with white railing and spindles and a semi transparent floor. But not sure if that is realistic for our current deck. Def cracks in the boards that we don’t want to highlight.
  8. You Must Include Picture(s) of the Current Condition.
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carolyn h
carolyn h
1 month ago

Wow amazing info – thank you! This site is awesome! Should I bother stripping the banisters and railing if I am solid staining them? Or just remove any paint that is peeling with a sander?

Next question : There is that solid type existing stain in between the floor boards too. Do I need to somehow sand in there?

i already have Defy Extreme semi transparent for a different small deck. I also bought their wood cleaner and brightener. Woudl those be okay to use?

Last question (sorry) – We need to replace one, or maybe two, floor boards. How do we go about making these as the same as the rest of the floor when stained?

THANK YOU THANK YOU! Couldn’t do this without your site and input. Appreciate it so much.

Shannon Nehrbaa
Shannon Nehrbaa
2 months ago
  1. New Wood or Older Wood? Older wood
  2. Does the Deck have a Current Coating? Yes, some sort of white paint
  3. Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? Right now there is chipped white paint from the previous owner. I want to strip the white paint and stain the wood.
  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? No stain. Chipped white paint
  6. Mold or Mildew Issues? No
  7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure? N/A
  8. You Must Include Picture(s) of the Current Condition. See attached photos

Hi! My husband and I just bought our first home. Fixing our deck is at the top of our to do list. The previous owner painted it white. The paint is chipping everywhere and the white is extremely bright and blinding to your eyes when it is sunny out. Ideally, we would love to strip the paint and stain the deck a pretty natural color (open to color suggestions). We of course want to do this correctly, so we can enjoy our deck for years to come. We are looking for any and all advice! Thank you 😊

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Shannon Nehrbas
Shannon Nehrbas
2 months ago

Thank you so much for your response. My apologies, I guess ‘strip’ was the wrong term. Regardless, we would like to completely remove the white paint so that we can stain it (we feel a nice stain will last a lot longer than paint). Do you agree? Is power sanding it off the best and only way to remove it all? We are clueless on where to even begin with this project. Thank you!

John BaRoss
John BaRoss
2 months ago

We have a 30+ year old deck. During initial 20 years we’d power wash then apply Thompson’s weather proofer. About 10+ years ago, due to some splintering, we decided to paint (vs. stain) and tried Rust-Olium Restore 4x. While we had cracking and peeling, we were ok just touching up these problems for years. Recently we did a thorough power wash and now see need to sand at least rough areas, as well as smooth areas where some 4x remains. We also expect to now need to use an outdoor wood filler for gaps/cracks greater than 1/4″, then would like to resurface. Goal is to get about 3 more years out of current deck, then consider replacing the wood. I’m clear on continued concerns with Rust-Olium 20x. Alternatively, just read about Liquid Rubber Polyurethane deck coating. Thoughts on which of these two (or some other deck restore paint) would be best to bridge us another 2-3 years (doing touch-up along the way)?

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John BaRoss
John BaRoss
2 months ago

Thank you. On the Gulf Deck Revive web site there are responses by ‘Gulf Synthetic’ to Q&A with guidance to not put Gulf Deck Revive over any old Rust-Olium Restore (even if any remaining remnants of Restore are not currently loose) due to potential future problems with remaining Restore (even after covered by Revive). That means anything less than 100% removal of Restore before applying Revive means potential trouble ahead, correct? The Q&A on that site also says power washing should be last step (after sanding) before applying Gulf Synthetic’s Permabond Primer because power washing opens wood pores (vs. sanding which closes wood pores). So, if we sand next, we should then do a second power wash (or, skip sanding?). Finally, noticed that Gulf Synthetic’s patch product has been discontinued. Can you recommend an alternative patch product? Thank you again.

JeniMae
JeniMae
1 month ago

I contacted Quickcrete directly and they don’t recommend using their products on wood.

Chad
Chad
2 months ago

This is maybe one of the best things I’ve found on the internet in a long time. I learned a bunch from just reading these comments. Thanks a ton for doing this!

Anyway… about my deck. We bought our house seven years ago and the deck had been recently finished at that time. I think it was originally built in the late ’90s but don’t know for sure. It gets a ton of direct sun and some rain during the winter (northern California). The horizontals are 2×6 framing lumber (redwood).

New Wood or Older Wood? Old wood.

Does the Deck have a Current Coating? Yes.

Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color?
We’re going to switch to a darker color. No idea what’s on there now.

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?
It’s a solid color, but I’m not sure what it is beyond that. Some planks appear to have a previous coat of paint or (more likely) primer on them (see photo).

Mold or Mildew Issues?
No.

Reason for Previous Stain Failure?
Old age, blazing sun (and possibly neglect on my part).

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

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Chad Allen
Chad Allen
2 months ago

Awesome. Thank you! Any suggestions on best stripper for solid color? Also is it possible that this is regular external house paint and does that make a difference in stripping?

Chad
Chad
2 months ago

Any specific thoughts on what stripper to use, or just go with Restore-a-Deck? Also, any thoughts on the walls? Photos attached. They are in better shape than the horizontals. Can we get away with power wash and stain?

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