Best Deck Prep? Clean, Strip, or Sand the Deck? 4.8/5 (58)

by Deck Stain Help

This post was updated on January 13, 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?

What is the Best Deck Prep? 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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Ray Gagnon
Ray Gagnon
2 months ago

I had my deck rebuilt just a couple of years ago. It was a nightmare. I went through 4-5 different contractors and they all were terrible.

My problem, as you will see in the pictures, is black mold. I assume the painter didn’t wait long enough for the wood to dry before staining.

My question is simple. Where do I go from here. I have tried several techniques to eliminate the mold but none of them have been affective at completely eliminating the mold.

I can remove a good deal of the black from scrubbing but I suspect that appearance aside the mold is still inside the wood.

  1. New Wood or Older Wood? – the wood is 2-3 years old
  2. Does the Deck have a Current Coating? As you will see in the picture it was stained
  3. Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? I want to use the best stain and stay with the same color. I don’t recall what brand is on there now.
  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? it is water based solid stain
  6. Mold or Mildew Issues? Major black mold issues, the mold is why i need to take action
  7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure?

the four pictures give you a sense of the extent of the mold problem

It is clear that just scrubbing isn’t going to do the job. Power washing will strip the paint off but it will also damage the wood.

What is my best course of action to restore the deck and eliminate the mold? I assume I will need to re-stain but what do I need to do to prep before re-staining.

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Dirk M Brinkerhoff
Dirk M Brinkerhoff
3 months ago

Here are my answers to your questions;

  1. New Wood or Older Wood? Our deck was built in 2015
  2. Does it have a previous coating on the wood? Yes, originally stained in 2015
  3. Are you re-coating with the same brand and colors as last time? Unfortunately we don’t know what Brand of stain or what color of stain was originally used.
  4. Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? Unknown
  5. What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Unknown. Oil-based or Water-Based? Unknown. Clear, Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, or Solid Stain? I think that a solid color stain was used – sort of a dark redwood color.
  6. Mold or Mildew Issues? I think that it might have a little mold/mildew, but not significant.
  7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure? Unsure…age 6 years? Maybe because it might be a water based stain? Rainy & Wet conditions?
  8. You Must Include Picture(s) of the Current Condition. We are going up tomorrow and will take some pictures.
Chris
Chris
3 months ago

I have an older deck around a pool for a house I just bought. It appears to have an old solid stain on it that’s peeling in some small areas. I plan on using RAD solid stain but I will have to replace a couple boards that are rotting. Firstly, do I need to wait a couple months to restore the deck to allow the few boards to weather after replacing them. Also, when I do restore the deck I know I need to get rid of any peeling areas but what else do I need to apply prior to application of the solid stain. From what I can tell I need to use cleaner and stripper but in what order and do I need to sand at any point if I’m just adding a layer of solid stain. And if I do need to sand how much am I looking to remove.

Thanks for your help.

  1. New Wood or Older Wood? 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? assume switching to RAD solid stain
  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? appears to be be solid stain
  6. Mold or Mildew Issues? small area with mildew that can be pressure washed
  7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure? old
  8. You Must Include Picture(s) of the Current Condition.
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Chris
Chris
3 months ago

How long should I wait after replacing the boards to cover the deck?

Trina Scott
Trina Scott
3 months ago

My deck is old and was last coated with a basic Thompsons sealer about 2 years ago. It gets a lot of hot afternoon sun and appears all dried out with some black streaks. Is it necessary to strip or can I just use the Restore-A-Deck wash and then stain?

Ben
Ben
3 months ago

I would like to refinish my front porch. We bought our home earlier this year, so many of the answers to your questions are unknown, but I will try my best. Included in the pictures are a section of the porch that I have attempted to clean with a pressure washer and soapy water, followed by power sanding with 50 grit sandpaper after drying for several days. Neither the pressure washing nor the sanding removed the existing combination of dirt and finish very well. I’m glad I found this site to get some answers and formulate a plan before I try something else.

  1. older wood (unknown species but appears to be some type of hardwood, over 1″ thick tongue-and-groove)
  2. yes there is an existing unknown coating
  3. switching brands
  4. previous brand unknown
  5. current deck stain is unknown but appears to be transparent or semi-transparent because some grain is visible, even in dirty areas
  6. does not appear to have mold/mildew, just dirt, but I could be wrong
  7. years of neglect caused previous stain failure
  8. see attached photos

How should I prep this wood for a new transparent or semi-transparent finish to showcase the hardwood?

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Last edited 3 months ago by Ben
Martina
Martina
3 months ago

My deck is old, I pressure washed it but left it unstainef fir 1 year. A professional Restorstion outfit. Changed some wood planks and applied a water based stain both old and new wood without prepping it. Sherri brilliant us the water based stain. It was done on a Friday. I guess it’s cured, it’s been 30 or so more hours since. I hope the stain sticks . I could have five the staining myself if I would have known that tg were is no sanding or prep application of the deck

starhome98@aol.com
starhome98@aol.com(@starhome98aol-com)
3 months ago

I’m stripping my deck with the restore a deck stripper and neutralizer system to remove old TWP stain before I apply a different TWP color. During the neutralizing phase I accidentally applied more stripper instead of neutralizer. After the deck dried I noticed the color was yellowish instead of whitish and realized my mistake. What’s the best way to neutralize the deck after it dried? Thanks

Danielle Smith
Danielle Smith
3 months ago

Should I apply the brightener to dry wood?

Danielle Smith
Danielle Smith
3 months ago

Thanks for the help

Anton
Anton
3 months ago
  1. New Wood or Older Wood? 4 years old
  2. Does the Deck have a Current Coating? AC2 CedarTone from Menards, factory applied
  3. Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? never been stained
  4. Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? N\A
  5. What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Factory applied CedarTone, see attached PDF
  6. Mold or Mildew Issues? some mildew (green patches)
  7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure? age?

Looking to apply new stain to deck, has been in place for 4 years and I think it could use attention to keep it looking nice. Thanks.

Anton
Anton
3 months ago

Awesome, Thanks for the info, much appreciated.

Colin
Colin
3 months ago
  1. New Wood or Older Wood? Older wood, 8+ year Southern Yellow Pine. Knots and sap in the “premium” grade are fairly common.
  2. Does the Deck have a Current Coating? No, the following has been done:
  3. Heavy power wash to strip old stain, mold, & mildew.
  4. Deck surface drum sanded with 40 grit followed by 60 grit.
  5. Deck surface edges vibration hand sanded with 50/60 grit where drum sander didn’t reach (~6″ out from and under rail bottoms.
  6. Rails, posts, skirt, & steps random orbital hand sanded with 60 grit.
  7. Vacuumed after sanding sessions.
  8. Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? Changing the color slightly and possibly the brand.
  9. Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? Cabot.
  10. What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Oil-based or Water-Based? Clear, Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, or Solid Stain? 3 in 1 Semi-Transparent Oil neutral base tinted.
  11. Mold or Mildew Issues? Yes
  12. Reason for Previous Stain Failure? Lack of maintenance coating.
  13. You Must Include Picture(s) of the Current Condition.

The drum sanding was done in July and then due to rain patterns the remaining hand sanding has been done over the last 2 months. Hence the silvering from sun aging butting up to the fresher sanded edges at the rails. I also have 2 patch boards in the deck that came from unused original deck material which are yellow compared to the rest.

At this point will the RAD Cleaner and Brightener kill off any remaining mildew and even out the sun silvering and patch boards?

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TommyLu
TommyLu
4 months ago

Here are my answers to the 8 questions:
1. Older wood (deck built in 2006)
2. Current coating: Cabot deck stain (two coats)
3. I am switching color and probably switching brand.
4. Deck Stain Brand: Cabot
5. Deck Stain Type: Oil-based, Semi-Solid (but the two coats made it look Solid)
6. No Mold or Mildew Issues
7. Previous Stain Failure: We put it on too thick and it was the wrong color!
8. See attached photos.

TommyLu
TommyLu
4 months ago

Second try to upload photos.

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TommyLu
TommyLu
4 months ago

More photos.

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TommyLu
TommyLu
4 months ago

Two more.

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TommyLu
TommyLu
4 months ago

In this final photo, you can see how I tried to use a palm sander to sand off the old stain from the plank along the wall on the left.

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TommyLu
TommyLu
4 months ago
Reply to  TommyLu

Here come the photos:

TommyLu
TommyLu
4 months ago

Thank you. What kind of sander do you recommend? My palm sander is not sufficient. In my research on this, I have come across a lot of people using a stand-up orbital floor sander…?

Jason
Jason
4 months ago

Hi. I am looking to re-stain our cottage siding, likely most recently done around 10 years ago, not sure of product. So we are changing the colour (solid stain) and likely the brand. Some areas need scraping but most is intact.

what do I need to do for surface prep – strip, brighten and clean?

do you have brand recommendation available in Canada? I made a trip to northern NY state a couple years ago to get Defy for our deck based on your recommendation – worked great, not sure I can navigate the border with all the COVID restrictions these days. For vertical surfaces will something available in Canada give good results?

thanks for any help!

Michael
Michael
4 months ago

Hi,

There seems to be quite a bit of precipitation in my area this year and it’s often difficult to find 3 days of guaranteed dry weather so that I can clean, brighten, let the deck dry and finally stain it. If I cleaned and brightened the deck and it rained the next day, would I be able to stain the deck after it dried or would I need to clean and brighten it again? I’m using the defy cleaner and brightener with a Defy semi-transparent stain.

Cynthia
Cynthia
4 months ago

Hi –

Two years ago I stripped, sanded, and then stained my deck w/ TWP.

In preparation for staining again, in the last week I’ve done two rounds of: clean (w/ sodium percarbonate) / pressure wash / brighten (w/ citric acid) / rinse. With the second round, I used a scrub brush on some problem areas like those in the attached photos.

Yet on a few railings (ironically, the ones in full sun, not the ones in shade) as well as a few floor boards there is STILL a trace of something green down in the wood grain. It’s minor, but I’m wondering: is it a problem? If so, what should I do about it?

THANK YOU!

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Judy A Nelson
Judy A Nelson
4 months ago

1. In 2017 our older wood porch floor was sanded to bare wood. Wood cleaner and brightener were used to prep for staining. Ready Seal stain and sealer (Pecan) was brushed on. (We don’t remember if 2 coats were used.)
2. In 2018 it had faded in places. (Very noticeable when the doormat was moved.)
3. In 2020 (late Spring) the porch floor was cleaned (We don’t remember if anything else done.)
Pittsburgh Ultra stain and sealer (Canyon Brown) was brushed on.
By winter there was bare wood mostly where the sun hit and had foot traffic, but also under the spindles. (See pics)
4. What do we do now and what product do we use this year as we are getting too old to have to do this so often???

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Judy A Nelson
Judy A Nelson
4 months ago

Thank you.
Can we use any stripper or brightener? What is the shelf use age of these items, including the Ready Stain?

D. Lee
D. Lee
4 months ago

I have a 9 year old cedar deck that has been stained a few times with TWP. Half the deck is covered and remains in fairly good condition, and the other half that is exposed and resists the stain and is rather worn. Should I sand the entire deck and restain with TWP or do you recommend something else. Live in midwest and deck receives afternoon sunlight and harsh winters. Will use the same TWP as previously used.

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Adam
Adam
4 months ago

Hi! I’d like to change to a two-tone stain for my older deck. The previous stain was a water-based semi-trans reddish cedar that is stubbornly clinging on to verticals despite two applications of Thompson’s Heavy Duty Deck Cleaner and pressure washing. Am i ok to use a solid white stain over the verticals as is? And a dark walnut oil based semi-trans on the floor boards? Thanks! Love your videos!

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Chris
Chris
4 months ago

New Wood or Older Wood? Older 15+ Years (except top railing which is 2 years old)

Does the Deck have a Current Coating? Very little stain left on deck boards. Some areas more than others where furniture has sat and protected. Railings seem to have decent amount of stain left. Top railings have not been stained.

Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? I do not know what was last used.

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? Unknown, but looks to be transparent.

Mold or Mildew Issues? Very little. Deck gets a decent amount of sun exposure.

Reason for Previous Stain Failure? No failure, just weathered without maintenance for 7+ years.

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Chris
Chris
4 months ago

Thank you very much! I was thinking a semi-transparent stain? Is that okay?
Without knowing whether the old stain is or water based, will that matter?

Also, would you recommend the same with the vertical posts that look to still have a decent stain on them?

Last question; do you have a favorite wood filler for a couple knot wholes and a decent size gouge?

Thank again for the great forum/site and all the knowledge sharing!

Chris
Chris
4 months ago

Thank you! Just confirming that only the cleaner and brightener needed, not the stripper?

Would the same process/products apply for a wooden, pressure treated playset? Playset was new in March of this year and has not been stained yet.

S.G
S.G
4 months ago

Good Morning,

There is white residue after applying deck cleaner solution and power washing yesterday afternoon. Is this oxidation due to the bleach content in the cleaner, and is it a significant concern, or is it ok to proceed to stain at this point once the deck dries completely? Thinking TWP 1500.

If it matters, deck is a few years old PT pine and has not been previously stained.

Thanks!

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Last edited 4 months ago by S.g
S.G
S.G
4 months ago

Thanks for the quick response! How necessary is it to re-clean at this point, I don’t have access to the pressure washer anymore. Would it be really bad if I were to just stain it at the point (I understand it might not be perfect)? I have attached done before and after pictures just for reference.

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S.G
S.G
4 months ago

Picture after cleaning again (taken about an hour after re-cleaning) would it be really bad to go ahead and stain at this point once the deck dries out?

Last edited 4 months ago by S.g
S.G
S.G
4 months ago

Sorry could not attach the correct picture after re-cleaning to previous message…it is attached to this message, so I will just repeat the question here for clarity: would it be really bad to go ahead and stain at this point once the deck dries out?

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S.G
S.G
4 months ago

Great! I am considering the TWP 1500 in Pecan. Would you suggest going with a water based stain instead? Deck gets a fair amount of shade as there is an overhang of trees nearby, and I did have to remove some mold from the side next to the trees. Looking for something that is easy to apply and does all against mold. Half the deck will be under a covered porch.

S.G
S.G
4 months ago

Thank you!

S.G
S.G
4 months ago

Hi,

It rained today for the first time after I had done my prep for staining. Pictures attached show cleaned deck after and before rain, and deck (dry) before cleaning.

This raises several questions:

1. Why all the black spots when wet? Could these be a result of tannins (leached into the wood from unswept leaves left on the deck) rising to the surface from the rain, that were not noticeable prior to cleaning? Something else?

2.. Is this the appearance I can expect after staining?

3. Do I need to do further cleaning/prep prior to staining to remedy this? Prep so far has consisted of applying a bleach based solution, then rinsing with pressure washer, applying Defy wood cleaner, then rinsing that with garden hose.

Thanks again for your guidance

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S.G
S.G
4 months ago

Hi, I plan to brighten as you suggested once the rainy weather passes. Can I brighten as soon as the rain stops or do I need to give the deck a couple of days to dry first? Also do I need to repeat the entire cleaning process again before brightening, or can I just only brighten at this point since I cleaned about 8-9 days ago?

S.G
S.G
4 months ago

Good Morning

I posted this yesterday but don’t see it, maybe it did not save. So posting again.

It rained yesterday for the first time after prepping the deck for staining. Prep consisted of applying bleach solution, rinsing that with pressure washer cleaning, then applying Defy wood cleaner and rinsing that with garden hose. Deck has never been stained before (4 years old PT pine). Pictures attached show dry deck before cleaning, dry deck after cleaning, and the cleaned deck wet from rain.

Now to my questions:

1. Why all the dark stains on the deck?
2. Is this kinda how the deck would look after applying a stain in this tone?
3. Is this normal?
4. If not, what can be done about it?

(We did have unswept leaves on the deck prior to cleaning from last fall, not sure if that matters or not in terms of tannins leaching into the wood)

Thank you for your input.

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S.G
S.G
4 months ago

Thank you 🙂 for some reason I could not see my prior post and figured I did not save it after composing, hence the duplicate post. I see both posts now.

Last edited 4 months ago by S.g
Joe
Joe
4 months ago

Given that stripper and brightener need to be kept wet by repeated applications during the time period, is it ok to walk on the deck to get to all the areas, or do you recommend instead applying stripper/brightener in sections? Thanks!

Michele Dietz
Michele Dietz
4 months ago

I have a 13 year old, 3 level cedar deck in need of a lot of help. FIRST PHOTO from the left.

  1. SECOND PHOTO from the left: The larger deck surface has been power washed only. No cleaners etc. We intend to replace a few boards, sand down to the bare wood with a commercial sander (which, fortunately, we’ve had experience with). Based on the leftover spots should I re-powerwash with a product. (I intend to use RAD products) and/or stripper and then sand & stain? On the horizontal surfaces that have been power washed, how should I proceed?
  2. THIRD PHOTO from the left.The uprights have some sort of paint that won’t come off with a 3400 psi power washer. How do I go about getting to the bare wood?
  3. FOURTH PHOTO from the left: You may be able to see there are multiple finishes on each surface…We are old & there is absolutely no way we can finish all this before winter sets in (Central Minnesota) & unfortunately can’t afford to pay a professional to do the work My plan is to at least get the power washed horizontal surfaces painted/stained next week & then next year do the lower level & the uprights.
  4. We really, really hope to find a product that we can clean & recoat every 2 years.
  5. This is a mess & we need clear directions on how to proceed. Thank you!

Answers to your questions above:

  1. New Wood or Older Wood? OLD 13 years
  2. Does the Deck have a Current Coating? In some places yes.
  3. Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? Switching to brand new.
  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? A combination I think.
  6. Mold or Mildew Issues? Slight.
  7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure? Not maintained properly.
  8. You Must Include Picture(s) of the Current Condition.
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Michele Dietz
Michele Dietz
4 months ago

Thank you. Sorry for the questions. Just to be clear, the horizontal deck surfaces that have been power washed need to to be stripped 1st, brightened and then sanded as the last step before staining? I had intended to purchase the Restore A Deck stripper & brightener. Is there a problem using those products if I stain with the TWP? Also, out of curiosity, why did you recommend the TWP verses using the Restore a Deck stain? Would 1 be better than the other at holding up to severe seasonal climate changes? I like the idea of the water-based stain for some reason. Most of the rails are pretty much in need of replacing…oy! So we’re going to do that next summer… should I just wait and do the whole thing at once next summer and leave the bare wood exposed over the winter or am I ok doing the staining now & rails & lower deck later??? Thanks so much.

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John
John
4 months ago

Hi, I found your after watching a Youtube review of Behr Deckover which I was considering for my deck. I live in Pittsburgh, PA and the current deck urgently needs restored. I will answer your questions below and hope to hear from you soon. Thank you

  1. New Wood or Older Wood? Old
  2. Does the Deck have a Current Coating? Yes. It is peeling mut i’m not sure what kind it is.
  3. Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? I would like to switch brands & color. Something more natural and brown
  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? I don’t know what kind it is. It is definitely a solid and may be something like Behr Deckover
  6. Mold or Mildew Issues? No
  7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure? Neglect
  8. You Must Include Picture(s) of the Current Condition.

The current stain is peeling and some of the boards will need to be replaced. Otherwise the boards are worn but seem sound. I was going to clean, sand & powerwash everything and try and remove the current stain and change the color but am looking for some advice.

Thank you

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Conor
Conor
4 months ago

Backyard deck and a front porch (and also a fence). We live in Toronto.

The back deck is elevated and was at least 10 years old (predates our time here). The deck boards and railings were replaced in May 2021 and are cedar, and have not been treated. The posts and joists and stair stringer were painted (I think?) green and are quite faded. The wooden wall/divider on the deck was stained but we’re not sure what was used to treat it. Pictures attached. We’ve also added (May 2021) a new lower deck from our walkout. This also has not been treated. This abuts a fence that looks like it was at one point stained. There were significant mold and mildew issues, and rotting of deck boards led us to replace them all earlier this spring. I’ve treated the fence and the posts and joists with mold/mildew remover and have tried pressure washing (though perhaps too little pressure as was concerned with causing even more damage).

The front porch also predates us and has never been treated. It had/has significant mold and mildew issues. Last weekend I treated with a mold remover and then pressure washed (also could have gone harder with the washer). The results are in the pictures attached (second two pictures). The three stairs off the front porch show the most significant mold now (two of the boards were replaced last year (not treated) and so those don’t look as bad). Haven’t sanded.

We’d like to restore and stain the front porch in a transparent or semi-transparent stain. anything to get it looking bright.

For the back deck, we’d like to treat and stain the new decks – ideally clear – and then do whatever we can to restore the fence and the dividing wall, and then strip the remaining green off the posts and stairs or do whatever we can to get it brown.

Scratching my head because it looks like I’ve got 3 or 4 completely different jobs here so any advice on best prep options would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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Conor
Conor
4 months ago

Thank you very much. To be clear should I even strip and brighten the new wood?

Greg S.
Greg S.
4 months ago

4 year old elevated deck (10’x10′), never treated. No current coating. Deck is in Iowa with full afternoon / sun exposure (west side of house). Very cold winters with snow.
Had severe algae and greying…minor algae in some areas. I cleaned once with “Mold Armor EZ Deck Wash”, a week later with a DIY oxy-clean and scrub brush and again another week later with VALSPAR All in One clean. Power washed myself (probably too hard). I intend to sand with 40-60 grit. Still have to clean outside of vertical railings. Looking for best prep options to apply a semi-transparent. Thank you in advance.

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Greg S
Greg S
4 months ago

Thank You. Follow up: If I choose oil based (like TWP) will I have an issue in many years from now if I want to go water based?

Leo Pecchia
Leo Pecchia
4 months ago

Live in Vancouver BC Canada -just finish building a new 400 square foot cedar deck .It’s been weather for 3 months now but with working Mon-Fri and with the weekends coming up that I won’t be able to attend staining my deck until mid October ….traditionally by mid October and November can be constant rainy days so I don’t see a chance to complete to stain the deck.Do I leave it until next spring or should I put on just a sealer to get me by until next spring.FYI I bought Restore semi transparent stain .Please advise

Joe
Joe
4 months ago

I have an old deck with a couple different elements: old deck, without any stain remaining (it’s probably been many many years since a stain was applied), old deck with a hot tub covering it, so stain is still in good shape, and new deck rails that I just replaced. I tried Cabot Wood Stripper and and then Cabot Wood Brightener (the two brighter spots in the second picture), but pouring water over that section shows that the stain is still there. I’m not really sure how to proceed with some combination of cleaning, stripping, neutralizing, and sanding. Also, is it possible to have a semi-transparent stain cover these differences enough? Thank you!

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Joe
Joe
4 months ago

Ok thank you! Yes, we’ll put the hot tub back. Would you recommend applying the Restore A Deck stripper on the entire deck, or just the area where hot tub was and stain remains? If it’s best to apply just to the one area, would I still use brightener on the entire deck? Looks like the recommended hardwood stain comes in Amber and Mahogany. Could either color work, or would you recommend the darker Mahogany option for this deck?

I also had no idea the deck was hardwood! Is it fair to assume the vertical parts of the deck are not hardwood? After reading the article on two toned decks, I was thinking of using a solid water based stain on that part. And then sounds like using a hardwood stain on the horizontal part. Would that work well, or would you recommend an alternative approach?

Thank you very much for your help!

Joe
Joe
4 months ago

Sounds good, thank you!

Joe
Joe
4 months ago
Reply to  Joe

Oh actually, one last question–can I use a paint sprayer for the water based Restore A Deck semi-transparent and/or solid stain? If not, how would you otherwise recommend staining the latices? Thanks!

Joe
Joe
4 months ago

Ah ok but not a air sprayer then? Any recommendations on the next best option for latice? (I have an air sprayer only). Thanks!

Joe
Joe
4 months ago

oh haha ok, i must be confused. Thank you for your help with all this!

Joe
Joe
4 months ago
Reply to  Joe

I tried spraying Restore A Deck’s solid stain with this paint sprayer and it didn’t go so well. Intermittent spray and what did come out was very textured. Same results with the 1.8mm and 3mm opening. Is that expected, or is there another type of sprayer better suited to the job?

Also, what would be the next best alternative for applying solid stain to a latice? Thanks!

Joe
Joe
4 months ago

I rented one and that definitely worked better, thank you. Also, the Restore a Deck products worked a lot better than what I was using before, so thank you for that suggestion as well.

Last edited 4 months ago by Joe
Joe
Joe
4 months ago

Will do! I painted some of the rails with the Restore a Deck solid white stain. In the mornings, which have been damp, I’ve been seeing brown puddles one the rails (see pic). The rails are new redwood that I applied the solid stain to. Any idea what is happening here?

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Joe
Joe
4 months ago

Got it! I had new redwood that sat about a month before applying the stain. Is the month, instead of the recommended 3-6 months, the cause of this, or does this just happen with redwood?

Joe
Joe
4 months ago

Looking much better! Thank you for the help, made a huge difference! Out of curiosity, any idea why the deck in the foreground ended up so much darker than the part farther back? I tried to do the same thing for all of it, as much as I could.

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Cole
Cole
5 months ago

Thanks for all the great info on your site! I moved into a home last fall that has a large ipe deck with old stain. The previous owner said she used a Penofin-like stain (she couldn’t remember if it was exactly Penofin or not) about 5-7 years ago. She said the same product was used on the railings as the deck. The deck is partially covered to varying degrees, it’s weathered very differently. My contractor has performed some sanding tests and has done an initial pressure wash (no stripper, cleaner, or brightener used yet). We’ll probably re-stain with Armstrong Clark hardwood stain in amber (we’ve tested the amber and black walnut on sections sanded to bare wood, and we’re currently waiting for those test spots to cure). The attached photos show the differing amounts of weathering. Everything has received the initial pressure wash. The photo of the weathered railing corner is in a sun/weather-exposed area, while the other railing photos don’t get much sun/weather. The img_4117 photo shows the bottom two boards sanded down about a week ago, while the other boards above them have only been pressure washed (all of those boards are very exposed to sun/weather). Img_4116 also shows the boards on the step down sanded vs the pressure washed boards ago (the pressure washing didn’t do much in that area). The img_4121 and img_4122 photos (attached in a follow-up post, along with the railing photos) are examples of what appears to be the least weathered areas of the original deck stain. It’s much darker/redder than the railings, but the previous owners swears it was the same product. (Maybe it’s just a difference of sanding or lumber, though it’s all ipe.) Do I need to sand to bare wood to properly remove the unknown previous stain before applying the new Armstrong Clark stain, or should I use the RAD stripper? If I have to sand, should I apply the RAD cleaner and brightener after sanding (along with a light pressure wash)? If a stripper can work to avoid all the effort of sanding, should I use the non-gel additive with it? Any other tips for refinishing an ipe deck in this condition with a previous unknown oil-based stain? Thanks for the help! Here are the answers to the questions: > New Wood or Older Wood? Older (current stain is 5-7 years old) > Does the Deck have a Current Coating? The previous owner doesn’t know what exactly the previous stain was but remembers it as as Penofin or similar. She swears the railings are the same product, and it’s held up there because those surfaces are convex (and maybe the application was thicker). > Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? Switching. We’re moving away from the unknown Penofin-like stain, likely to Armstrong Clark > Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? Enter “unknown” if you do not know. Unknown, though apparently it was Penofin or similar. > What… Read more »

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Cole
Cole
5 months ago

Excellent. Thanks!

I’ve attached the additional images I couldn’t post earlier. The first three are of the deck railing (supposedly with the same product as was used on the deck), and the fourth is of an area of the deck that didn’t get much sun/weather. Is stripping sufficient for those areas as well, or will the old stain need to be sanded where it’s still mostly intact?

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Cole
Cole
5 months ago

Got it. Thanks so much!

Julie
Julie
5 months ago

My deck was built with brown ptw and is a year old and has never been washed or sealed. I am adding a covered porch being built with brown ptw. How do I prep for seal and semi-transparent stain when I will have old and new wood?

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Julie
Julie
5 months ago

How long should I wait to stain the new wood. Doesn’t it have to weather first?

Jayne Brown
Jayne Brown
5 months ago

I used to have really good luck with staining my deck with Olympic stain. My deck was painted with cabot austrailian deck stain about 5 years ago. The deck was built in 1986, pressure treated. The stain is peeling in spots, down to bare wood some of it has a shiny sheen to it, It is a mess. I really don’t want to sand or replace it. Is it possible to spot stain it with Olympic stain?
Jayne

Jayne Brown
Jayne Brown
5 months ago

I am going to try to post the photos again. The photos were not downloading.

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Lindsay
Lindsay
5 months ago

My deck is 3-4 years old, installed by the builder. The pained the deck with Sherwin Williams SuperDeck solid deck stain. I HATE the solid stain!! I am trying to figure out the best option, that isn’t replacing the whole (which has been a thought) The paint peels, mildews and always looks dirty.

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Lindsay
Lindsay
5 months ago

If I can’t remove it all, should I sand down and then paint again with sherwin williams or is there another option?

Julie J Peto
Julie J Peto
5 months ago

I have a 14 year old pressure treated pine deck that has previously been stained with t w p 100 series in dark oak. About six weeks ago I cleaned and brightened the deck preparing to restain. Something came up and I could not get the deck stained. There has not been an opportunity since until possibly this week. Do I need to use cleaner and brightener again or can I just sweep and rinse the deck?
Thank you!

Katie C
Katie C
5 months ago

We had a new deck built three years ago with pine for the deck and cedar for the railings. Two years ago we stained it for the first time using Superdeck (pre-Sherwin Williams) oil-based semi-transparent in dark walnut. Now it’s time to stain again and we want to use a new product. Much of the main deck has faded in places. We have lot of squirrels and they have scratched the railings (we plan to sand those areas). The stain has held up pretty well on in the vertical cedar posts, but we do have some mildew. We have lots of trees, acorns, leaves in fall, snow in winter. After reading many of your articles, I’m leaning toward the Restore a Deck system and their dark walnut semi-transparent stain. For prep, do we need to clean and strip, or can we just strip? What do suggest for boosters, additives, brightener? Any other tips for us? Thanks!

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Katie C
Katie C
5 months ago

Thank you so much!

Marla Ulrich
Marla Ulrich
6 months ago

I have a two year old cedar deck that looked great, up until time the dog put claw gauges into it. I used a hand sander to sand the scratched areas down, which left a combination of bare wood and stained areas, making for a patchy mess. I tried using deck stripper to remove the remaining stain, but the stain didn’t come off well. I used a stiff brush on the boards after applying the stripper and allowing it to work, but perhaps a power washer would have been the better way to go.
I’m wondering what to do next to restore this deck. Should I rent a sander and sand the existing stain off so that I can re-stain the whole deck? The stain that was used when the deck was built was a Cabot full oil stain, which is no longer allowed to be sold in my area.
I’m attaching photos of what the deck looked like after the hand sander, and what it looks like now after using the stripper. It rained last night, hence the wetness.
If I do rent a sander, would you advise using the brightener first? The stripper really darkened the wood, especially on the top section.
Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

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Glenda Miller
Glenda Miller
6 months ago

Do I need to use a brightener after sanding my deck. I am happy with the look of my cedar deck. Even if I don’t need to use a brightener, do I need to power wash before sanding? Thanks!

Ben
Ben
6 months ago
  1. New Wood or Older Wood?  OLDER

 

  1. Does the Deck have a Current Coating?  YES, it appears to have two different kinds of coatings. On the posts it appears to have a solid stain and on portions of the rail and deck floor it has some sort of clear/transparent coating that has mostly worn off. 

 

  1. Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? I’d like to switch to a semi-transparent coating since the old coating is mostly gone.

 

  1. Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? Enter “unknown” if you do not know. There are several deck finishing products that the previous owner left behind that range from a latex paint to actual stains, so I don’t know exactly which ones are on the deck currently. I think the solid coating is latex paint. I will leave pictures of these products in with the pictures of the deck in case it helps.  

 

  1. What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Oil-based or Water-Based? Clear, Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, or Solid Stain? I think the solid coat is water-based and the clear/transparent coat is oil-based. 

 

  1. Mold or Mildew Issues? A little. There is some orange fungus looking stuff growing out of the top of one of the posts. Refer to pictures. 

 

  1. Reason for Previous Stain Failure? Unknown. We moved into this house a little of a year ago and the current state of the deck was what it was when we moved in. It looks like someone started to take the dark finish off of the deck at some point. We know the previous owner added on to the existing deck to make it twice the size so this could have been when the older finish was starting to be taken off but it’s hard to tell what exactly was going on. 

 

  1. Additional info. I’d prefer to sand the deck vs using a stripper but do I still need to clean the wood and use a brightener? If so, what is the order in which I do all of these things including the sanding? If I sand, what are the different grits I should use? 

 

  1. You Must Include Picture(s) of the Current Condition.
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Ben
Ben
6 months ago

Thank you for your help!

I’ve attached additional pictures, since I can only attach 4 at a time. After seeing more pictures of the deck, does it change any of your advice?

If you still recommend pressure washing, would the pressure washing remove the paint off the posts or do you think I should just sand those?

In regards to pressure washing, what’s the max pressure you recommend.

Thank you again for all of your help.

-Ben

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Ben
Ben
6 months ago

Thank you!

Is there any place locally I’d be able to get the Restore A Deck Kit here in the St. Louis, MO area? If not, is there a brand or product you’d recommend that I’d be able to get locally from a hardware store that is comparable?

In the regards to the pressure washing psi, I’m assuming you meant to type 1500-2000 psi?

You all have been a huge help. Thank you!

Ben
Ben
6 months ago

Here are additional pictures.

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Ben
Ben
6 months ago

And the last pictures of the products that were left behind by the previous owner.

Thank you again!

-Ben

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Rose
Rose
6 months ago

Can you use a power washer to strip semi solid stained posts or do I need to use a sander? Does a power washer really damage wood if the PSI is low? I am switching brands, going with Armstrong.

Jeremy Rogers
Jeremy Rogers
6 months ago

New Wood or Older Wood? Older
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? Not sure
Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? Sher win Williams Deckscapes solid
What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Oil-based or Water-Based? Clear, Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, or Solid Stain? Not sure
Mold or Mildew Issues? A little bit not bad
Reason for Previous Stain Failure? Hasn’t been maintained
You Must Include Picture(s) of the Current Condition.

The deck stain is failing, in some parts of the deck more than others. In some places the stain is flaking off like a paint more than a stain. I know this is a bad product. However we do have quite a bit more of it that the previous owners left for us. I’d like some advice on how to proceed on two alternative approaches:

1. If we decide to reapply this stain because we have plenty of it in the garage, what would be the best prep?

2. If we decide to go with a new, higher quality stain such as those recommended on this site, what would be the best prep?

We have a toddler and also several pets and our preference is not to use dangerous chemicals if possible.

Thank you very much for your advice!

Jeremy Rogers
Jeremy Rogers
6 months ago

Sorry tried to post pictures with original post but they didn’t come through. Here are some pics

Jeremy Rogers
Jeremy Rogers
6 months ago

One more try

Jeremy Rogers
Jeremy Rogers
6 months ago

Ok here you go!

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Jim T
Jim T
6 months ago

More pix.

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Jim T
Jim T
6 months ago

Pix for previous post

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Jim T
Jim T
6 months ago

New Wood or Older Wood? 15yrs+
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? Yes. Maintenance coat of current brand last applied in 2017.
Deck stain brand previously used? Sikkens – Cetol DEK Finish, Natural color
What is the current deck stain type? I think it is oil-based, had to use mineral spirits for clean up. Transparent, satin finish.
Mold or mildew issues? Deck is in HEAVY shade. It has some mildew and algae.
Reason for previous stain failure? The last coat of stain is peeling. It did not get rained on during last application, but there was a heavy dew several hours (5+hrs) after application. Not sure why it peels. I had been very happy with Sikkens until last couple of applications (had been using it for almost 30yrs, guests commented that my deck looked like furniture) – heard they changed their formula since the initial application 13+yrs ago.

Because of recent dissatisfaction, I have been looking for something that is easier to apply with better performance that the most recent applications. I have been considering the TWP100 series of stains in the Redwood color. Is this a good choice? What would you suggest for deck preparation?

Thank you!

Mary Margaret Autry
Mary Margaret Autry
6 months ago
  1. New Wood or Older Wood? Older Wood
  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? YES
  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? I am not sure – Just bought the house – Looks like a semi solid
  6. Mold or Mildew Issues? Mildew
  7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure?
  8. You Must Include Picture(s) of the Current Condition

I am looking at doing a solid stain with white banisters and a different color on the floor. First picture was my inspiration photo and the second two are current condition Will that be too much with the current deck condition? I have never painted a deck before so this will be a first, so the two colors might be too much too? Am I being too ambitious… Just looking for a little advice! ha

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Mary Margaret Autry
Mary Margaret Autry
6 months ago

And I am looking to do a solid satin

Mary Margaret Autry
Mary Margaret Autry
6 months ago
  1. New Wood or Older Wood? Older Wood
  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? YES
  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? I am not sure – Just bought the house – Looks like a semi solid
  6. Mold or Mildew Issues? Mildew
  7. Reason for Previous Stain Failure?
  8. You Must Include Picture(s) of the Current Condition
Andy
Andy
6 months ago

I have a 4 year old deck that gets full sun in Minnesota. Just completed sanding off Behr stain that peeled and looked terrible after six months. Given our weather changes and the full sun, what would be your recommendation for a new stain to use? Also, do I need to use a deck stripper or brightener before staining? Thanks.

Andy
Andy
6 months ago

Here’s some photos. Just started raining here.

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Jeanne
Jeanne
6 months ago

Hi! Awesome info and I couldn’t resist asking for help. This is cedar decking. I bought Behr solid for railings and pergola. Transparent water based Cedar for floor. Some wood needs replacing. Maybe even stairs I think. What do you recommend? We had it cleaned 3 days ago. There was some furring and I feel like this is almost impossible to accomplish. Please share some advice for floor, railings, pergola and stairs. Thank you so very much. Many blessings to you and yours!🙂

Last edited 6 months ago by Jeanne
Andres de la Garza
Andres de la Garza
6 months ago

I have 2 sets of photos. One we painted with a tinted sealant. It is pealing and cracking. The seond set has had nothing done to it. It’s just weathered by the sun and rain. Looking for something for both surfaces that will withstand the 100+ degree temperatures in the summer. No shade or building to cover any of this. It’s completely out in the sun. Thank you.

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Andres de la Garza
Andres de la Garza
6 months ago

I have 2 sets of photos. One is just weathered from the sun and rain. The second set we painted with a tinted sealant but it is already pealing. I want something that will maintain the health and longevity of the wood. It needs to be able to stand the heat of 100+ summers.

KFS
KFS
6 months ago

Just bought an older home with a cedar deck that is in rough condition. We want to replace a few of the boards but are hoping the majority of it can be restored. I’m not sure if it was ever stained. Someone told me pressure washing may be too harsh & do damage to this old deck. What cleanser would you recommend? Does it need to be stripped? Do rough surfaces need to be filled in with wood filler? Does it need to be sanded? What products would you recommend for cleaning, brightening? staining? sealing? There is one place, under an overhang, where it looks as if it had been stained at some point. Does the whole deck need stripping or just that one small area??

Last edited 6 months ago by KFS
KFS
KFS
6 months ago
Reply to  KFS

Most of our deck looks as if it has never been stained except for a 2’x2′ space under an overhang. Does the entire deck need to be stripped, brightened & the stained with a semi transparent or solid stain? I would love it if we could see the wood grain when finished.

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Kristen
Kristen
6 months ago

New Wood or Older Wood? *Both

Does the Deck have a Current Coating? *Some boards do, others were replaced

Are you Switching Brands of Deck Stain or Applying a Maintenance Coat of the same Brand and Color? *Not sure what the old one was (just bought house)

Deck Stain Brand Previously Used? *unknown

What is the Current Deck Stain Type? Oil-based or Water-Based? Clear, Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, or Solid Stain?* Appears to be solid but that’s all I can tell

Mold or Mildew Issues? *Many of the boards were rotted and needed to be replaced

Reason for Previous Stain Failure? *Unsure if wrong stain was used before or maintenance wasn’t kept up.

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JEFF
JEFF
6 months ago

We installed an ipe deck in 2013 and used a water-based penetrating finish from TimberPro UV. It did not last long and we are presently painting our home and included re-finishing the deck as part of the bid. They are planning on sanding it and suggested Sikkens oil finish. I have not seen good reviews for this product and landed on TWP100 as a preferred finish. I just completed pressure washing the deck and it is rough enough that sanding would be beneficial. I am ordering TWP now and wondering if there is added benefit to using your stripper/brightener.

JEFF
JEFF
6 months ago

I uploaded them when I sent the message. I will attempt to do so again.
I selected four pics to upload. Am I limited to one at a time?

Last edited 6 months ago by JEFF
JEFF
JEFF
6 months ago

I reduced the photo size and am trying again.

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Kathy Sylvester
Kathy Sylvester
6 months ago
Reply to  JEFF

We used Sikkens oil based stain on our brand new deck, now called PPG prolux. It was AWFUL and now we are cleaning, stripping and restaining. Very big job and we are very disappointed

JEFF
JEFF