The Best Deck Stain Strippers in 2024: Tips and reviews  4.9/5 (95)

This post was updated on May 12, 2024

Hi, I am Scott Paul, a leading exterior restoration contractor and business owner with over 30 years of experience in exterior deck stain stripping and prep. My reviews and help tips are based on my history as a wood and deck restoration contractor and actual hands-on testing, all designed to present you with the top product choices. See here for more info about me

2024 Best Deck Stain Strippers

With over 30+ years of restoring decks as a contractor, I have done extensive research to find the best deck strippers and put together a comparison of the positives and negatives of each brand and product. However, if you’re still not sure which deck stripper is best for you, I can help. Just post a comment or question below, and we’ll reply as soon as we can.

Without further ado, here’s a look at my four best deck stain strippers of 2024:

  • Restore-A-Deck Deck Stripper with Booster/Thickening Gel Additives: My top-rated deck stain stripper features a special blend of pre-mixed solvents with 5 gallons of the original Restore-A-Deck Stripper. It provides an effective solution for even the most stubborn deck stains. 
  • Restore-A-Deck Wood Stain Stripper: The Restore-A-Deck powder is consistently considered one of the best deck stain removers and easily removes old stain or varnish, along with dirt, mildew, mold, and mill glazes. 
  • R-A-D PaintStrip Stripping Gel: Stripping deck paint instead of stain? Eco-friendly R-A-D™ PaintStrip works fast and removes up to 5 layers of deck paint in 45 minutes or less. 
  • Defy Exterior Wood and Deck Stripper: Defy Stripper’s biodegradable formula restores wooden decks to a like-new appearance while removing transparent and semi-transparent deck stains. 

Read on to learn more about the best deck strippers available.

DeckStainHelp.com is my help and review site. Its goal is to offer advice to homeowners who are laboriously restoring their exterior wooden decks, docks, and wood homes. I have been prepping and stripping exterior wood decks since 1993. I have tried them all and have compiled a list of the top wood and deck stain strippers.

Want My Help Finding the Best Deck Stain Remover?

There are lots of deck stain strippers on the market today, but which deck stripper will work well without damaging your wood? See Below my list of the best exterior wood and deck stain strippers and removers.

 

What is the Best Deck Stripper?

This is a very popular question that I get here at Deck Stain Help. Those familiar with the deck staining process know that you must properly prep your deck before staining for beautiful results — and the prep process often involves stripping old deck stain. In this article, I discuss the best deck strippers on the market.

My Top-Rated Wood Deck Stain Strippers

1. Restore-A-Deck Deck Stripper with Booster/Thickening Gel Additives

Restore-A-Deck Stripper Booster and Thickening Gel

  • My go-to stain stripper for difficult-to-remove stains such as Behr and Olympic water-based wood stains.

Restore-A-Deck Stain Stripper Booster Additive is a special blend of solvents added to 5 pre-mixed gallons of the original Restore-A-Deck Stain Stripper. The Restore-A-Deck Stripper Booster will raise the effectiveness of the stain stripper up to 300% by helping break down the surface tension of difficult-to-remove wood stain finishes.

Restore-A-Deck Stain Stripper Thickening Gel is a special blend that is added to premixed 5-gallons of the Restore-A-Deck Stain Stripper. With a longer dwell time, Restore-A-Deck Stripper Thickening Gel will increase the effectiveness of stain stripping by adding the ability to cling to vertical and horizontal surfaces for up to 1 hour. It works especially well in improving the stripping performance on vertical wood, such as wood railings, wood fences, and wood-sided homes.

Manufacturer: Restore-A-Deck
Product Type: Deck Stain Stripper Additives to boost overall effectiveness.
Available Sizes: 16oz. Add these into 5 Liquid Gallons of RAD Stain Stripper.
Consumer Star Ratings:  4.7/5 (10)
My DeckStainHelp.com Review (On a Scale of 1-10): 9.8

See My Review Article Here: Restore-A-Deck Booster & Gel Additives Review

2. Restore-A-Deck Stripper Rating

Best Deck Stain Stripper Review Note: This rating is without the Booster and Thickening Gel Additives

  • My everyday wd deck stain stripper. We used this on 100s of decks annually.

Restore-A-Deck Wood Stain Stripper is a biodegradable, powdered concentrate that quickly removes worn finishes to restore wood surfaces. Stains and varnishes and collected dirt, mold, mildew, and mill glaze are removed.

Manufacturer: Restore-A-Deck
Product Type: Powdered Concentrate Deck Stain Stripper
Available Sizes: 2 Pound Container Makes 5 Liquid Gallons
Consumer Star Ratings:  4.5/5 (45)
My DeckStainHelp.com Review (On a Scale of 1-10): 9.4

See My Review Article Here: Restore-A-Deck Stripper Review

3. RAD PaintStrip Stripping Gel Rating

Note: This product is designed to remove solid color deck stains and paints. While it will remove all other stain types, it is not always needed.

  • This is what I use to remove solid-color deck stains.

R-A-D™ PaintStrip is the right choice for almost any paint or sealer stripping project. R-A-D™ PaintStrip is eco-friendly, works fast (starts working within 5 minutes), and removes up to 5 layers of most paints in 30-45 minutes and up to 15 layers in 24 hours.

Manufacturer: Restore-A-Deck
Product Type: Solid Color Deck Stain and Paint Stripping Gel
Available Sizes: 1 & 5-Gallons
Consumer Star Ratings:  5/5 (1)
DeckStainHelp.com Review (On a Scale of 1-10): 9.2

See My Review Article Here: RAD PaintStrip Review

4. Defy Wood Stain Stripper Rating

  • Good stripper that may be found locally in stores.

Defy Wood Deck Stain StripperDefy Exterior Wood and Deck Stripper is designed to remove transparent and semi-transparent exterior wood and decking stains. It is a biodegradable deck stain remover that restores the wood to a like-new appearance and will work on both water-based and oil-based stains.

Where To Buy: Select Stores and Online Defy Store
Product Type: Liquid Wood Deck Stain Stripper
Available Sizes: 1 Gallon Pre-Mixed Liquid (Not Concentrate)
Consumer Star Ratings:  4.3/5 (14)
DeckStainHelp.com Review (On a Scale of 1-10): 8.25

See My Review Article Here: Defy Stain Stripper Review

My Guide to Buying Deck Stain Removers

The best deck stain stripper for your project can vary depending on the type of stain or paint you need to remove. Here are a few things to consider when buying deck stain removers. 

What to Look for in a Deck Stain Remover

Before you select a deck stain stripper, consider the following to ensure you select the right product for your job: 

  • What are the application requirements? Some deck stain strippers require special equipment to be applied to or cleaned off your deck. Make sure you’re aware of the requirements before making a purchase.
  • What type of stain do you need to remove? Certain deck stain strippers work best with different types of stains. Make sure you know whether your deck is covered in a solid, transparent, or semi-transparent stain, then find a compatible stain remover to ensure a job well done.
  • Is the deck stain stripper biodegradable? Finally, make sure your deck stain remover is biodegradable. This will ensure a safer stripping process and keep harmful residue from entering your yard or nearby waterways.

Why Use a Deck Stain Stripper?

Whether your current deck stain has seen a little too much wear and tear or you’re just ready for a refresh, a deck stain stripper can make it easier to remove old stain by softening the old coating. The best deck strippers may help remove built-up dirt, mold, mildew, and grime from the wooden boards.

How I Use a Deck Stain Stripper

I will guide you to deck stain and paint removal and provide a walkthrough of the process. However, the basic steps are as follows: 

  1. Cover plants, landscaping, furniture, windows, and anything else that isn’t getting stripped. 
  2. Make sure you’re wearing proper gloves and eyewear. 
  3. Use a brush or sprayer to apply an even layer of stain remover to the wooden deck.
  4. Let the deck stain stripper sit for at least 10-15 minutes for thicker coats of deck paint.
  5. Use a pressure washer or garden hose to remove the paint and stain remover.
  6. If needed, repeat the process, then rinse thoroughly.

Common Questions About Wood Deck Stain Strippers

Do You Have to Strip a Deck?

Before staining a wood deck, it is necessary to prep the wood properly for the best results. Removing all the dirt, mold, mildew, and graying will help the new deck stain penetrate better and last longer.

A simple wood cleaning is not enough when dealing with an old, failing deck stain. In this case, a deck stain stripper must be used to emulsify and soften the old stain so it can be removed more easily. Wood stain strippers are more aggressive than a typical wood cleaner.

What are the Active Ingredients in a Deck Stain Stripper?

Some of the best deck stain strippers I have found contain a mixture of Sodium Hydroxide and other surfactants. They typically come in a concentrated powder formula. Once mixed with water, they can be applied using a pump sprayer.

My Instructions and Tips for Stripping a Deck

To get the best results using a wood stain stripper, you need to let the product sit for several minutes after applying it to the wood. This allows the stain stripper to penetrate and break down the old stain. The dwell time depends on the type of existing stain. For instance, most semi-transparent oil-based stains will be removed more easily than a semi-solid deck stain.

For hard-to-remove stains such as acrylic or silicone-based stains, several applications and longer dwell times may be necessary. In extreme cases, such as when dealing with a solid deck stain or paint, some sanding may be needed to remove the existing stain fully.

Once the failing deck stain seems to have been softened, it is best removed with a power washer using light to moderate pressure. The caustic stripper will raise the pH level of the wood during the stripping process, causing it to appear very dark.

Do I Have to Brighten After Using Deck Stain Strippers?

Following the stripping process with an application of a wood deck brightener will restore the pH and brighten the wood while neutralizing the deck stripper. This brightening process should not be skipped. It is crucial to getting optimal results from the new deck stain and a more natural appearance.

Using a quality wood deck stain stripper will give you the best chance of removing the existing deck stain. Once the old stain is gone, the new deck stain can fully penetrate the wood for maximum protection and lasting results.

The Best Deck Strippers Video – DeckStainHelp.com

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Scott Paul ~ Restoring Wood & Decks Since 1993 Owner
As an article and comment contributor to the site, Scott has been around the pressure washing industry since attending college. In 1993 he started his first company called Oakland Pressure Wash specializing in exterior pressure washing and deck staining. That company evolved into OPW L.L.C. shortly thereafter concentrating more on exterior wood and deck restoration. Scott and his Deck Cleaning Michigan company have restored over 10,000 decks in the Metro Detroit area since the early years. He has become an authority in the deck restoration industry and has contributed to numerous wood restoration forums and informative sites. All the products he suggests through this site are sold through online sites and in retail stores, allowing the consumer to choose their own means of purchase. Scott’s eCommerce sites do sell many top brands he endorses and if you appreciate any of the help he has offered then feel free to purchase from one of them.

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Rick
Rick
6 months ago

I have a 24 sq. ft. “Stoop” + one step, that needs attention. I bought the condo 7 years ago and have no idea what the previous owner put down. I’m hoping you can tell from the photo. I really don’t want to rent a power washer for such a small area. What would you recommend? Thank you!

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Kelly Detrick
Kelly Detrick
8 months ago

We just had two decks stained with Cabot Semi Transparent Redwood stain. It seems like the stain was applied very heavily as it is shiny and tacky. It almost looks like paint. It makes the wood very hot and slippery. What is the best solution at this point? One of the decks surrounds a pool.

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Kelly Detrick
Kelly Detrick
8 months ago

Oof. Ok, is that what you would recommend given the photos?

Kelly Detrick
Kelly Detrick
8 months ago

And can you explain why sanding vs any kind of stripper or a combination of the two?

Crystal Grenier
Crystal Grenier
8 months ago

If we have a stained deck with a painted coat which is the best stripper ti take care of both to eventually restain?

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Jean
Jean
9 months ago

I am so glad to finally find your site! I am a single woman with a home in a temperate rainforest climate with a large UNOCOVERED deck. I have only had the home for 2 years and the deck “looked” pristine when I got it. Now it has severely deteriorated – lots of cracks, peeling, lifting, etc. I believe the previous owner went over it with Valspar 1 Coat Exterior Stain and Sealant Opaque Solid (found leftover) without any prep to make it appear good to sell.. I have someone to refinish it for me but they want me to choose the process and materials.
The deck itself is pressure treated wood and approximately 10-12 yrs old.
With information from your site and other research, I think I would like to strip the floor, recondition it and apply a semi transparent stain in a redwood color to coordinate with the pickets and rails. The pickets look perfect and the rails have some splitting and mold but are otherwise in good shape. I would like to refinish just the rails with the Valspar product and leave the pickets alone.
Please help! (in the last pic, we tried a stripper as a test. we also pressure washed) Thank you!

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Neal
Neal
10 months ago

What stripper will remove behr deckover acrylic based

Meckley
Meckley
1 year ago

I stripped and redid my deck last year with a lot of great help from this site. I’m very happy because this deck gets a lot of wear and rainy cold winters. What should I do this year. I need to clean it for summer and a few areas did flake. I’d like to fix those. Thoughts for my spring.

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Greg Irwin
Greg Irwin
1 year ago

Looking for recommendations to strip and restain 800sq ft deck. Existing coating is Thompsons semi transparent. Deck is on second level supported by painted structural beams. Is stripper going to damage the painted beams. Will restore a deck do the job. Please advise

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Jesse
Jesse
1 year ago

Scott- very recently had a small deck restained with a Sherwin Williams oil-based stain to a cedar color (see 1st picture) that is too orange for my liking. Would like to remove that stain so i can reapply a more clear finish to get closer to the more natural cedar color (see 2nd photo). So 3 questions: (1) Will the restore-a-deck stain stripper and booster products do the trick for this job, or will I need to consider sanding as well? (2) Any recs on a clear stain product and color? (3) Will a clear stain, baked in Minnesota sun, evolve into a color I’m not expecting? So maybe the orange cedar I’m seeing today is not as undesireable as I think? Thank you!

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Jesse
Jesse
1 year ago

Very helpful. Thank you!

Tom Scott
Tom Scott
1 year ago

How long is too long? In early July I used Restore-A-Deck stripper and brightener on my 1000 sf redwood deck. (I built it in 1985 and re-finish it every year or so.) Did a good job and all looked great. Then life and vacation and rain and weekends on the river and repairing some soft areas and sanding the railings all got in the way — and I have not refinished it yet — the naked wood looks great when wet – the rest of the time it looks hungry. I have always refinished with transparent or “natural” finishes. Right now I have 5 gal of Cabot Australian Timber Oil finish, Natural, sitting here ready to go when things dry out. My question is: given the 2 months that have passed since the cleaning/brightening — am I still ok to apply the finish, or should I “brighten” it again? Thanks.

Rich abbott
Rich abbott
1 year ago

Customer used this thick ‘correct deck stain’. But he stained over top of a clear sealer ,of course it’s bubbling n flaking all over. Whats best stripper for this type job? I got half it off just pressure washing.

Rich Abbott
Rich Abbott
1 year ago

Yep sanding my butt off , gottta be better way in life. Lol

donna
donna
1 year ago

Thompsons Deck stripper with sodium hydroxide. will it harm the deck hardware and concrete? and it will be rinsed into into the soil below it which will also down the slope of terraced rocks and plantings, and stream water. Is this OK? We will be using about 3 gallons.

donna
donna
1 year ago

I read California states sodium hydroxide causes cancer and birth defects. In our case a stream runs under one of the decks through which the stripper will be rinsed. There is ground under the other deck adjoined to the home, but the stripper will soak into the ground and eventually through to the stream. WE live on an island.

Vicki
Vicki
1 year ago

I used Sikkens on my deck 4 years ago. There is only one coat on the deck. It’s looking pretty rough so I decided to restain it. I pressure washed it which removed a lot of the colour right down to the wood, but there is still enough colour on there to make the deck look brown as opposed to natural wood colour. After reading your posts, I think I want to switch to the TWP 100, 200 in semi-translucent or semi-solid stain. Do I have to remove all the Sikkens first? If so, is the Restore-a-deck enough to pull all the stain up and off? Or should I sand the deck? If I have to sand the deck, would you recommend an orbital sander (I’ve used before and it was a hassle as the pads kept slipping), or a drum sander? And is it important to sand or get Restore-a-deck in the cracks and along the sides of the boards (the space between the boards)? I live in Victoria, BC, Canada and we get A LOT of rain here. Which one of the TWP products do you recommend for our climate? Thanks! Attaching pictures – it had just started raining so it looks very deceiving and uneven but it’s all I got. Sorry. Also fyi, one deck is cedar and the other is pressure treated wood. Your website is so informative. Much appreciated.

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Jen B
Jen B
1 year ago

I have a deck from Hell…have a 300ft PT lumber deck built 5 weeks ago. The Builder hired a painter who only uses Sherwin Williams products. He told me he was going to us SW Deck stain (gray). He did a horrible job and when he said he would fix it, we said no…

I found another painter who came out to look at the deck. He asked what was put on the deck and I told him…H&C® COLORTOP™ WATER-BASED SOLID COLOR CONCRETE STAIN. The original painter and his Sherwin Williams Representative highly recommended it.

Immediately, the painter said that he didn’t think the stain can be used on wood. Sure enough, the application instructions state it cannot be used on wood surfaces.

Ended up speaking to the SW District Manager and was told that they would fix it.

So, can you tell me what needs to be done to get the stain off? Do you recommend sanding or a Solvent? If a Solvant, is there anything you recommend? I’m thinking they will use a SW product…

I’m going to eventually have it painted. If a Solvent is used, do you recommend a light sanding before the Primer?

Really appreciate any help you can give me.

Jen
Jen
1 year ago

Thank you for your reply. I know a Primer would never be used before applying a solid stain. I was referring to it when using paint on the deck. After this experience and the fact that the deck looks horrible with the “stain” that was used, we are leaning towards paint. I understand and appreciate your point of view on paint though.

Voni
Voni
1 year ago

I have years of solid stains applied to my deck. Time to remove but most strippers don’t strip solid stains. Help!!!

Stephen Fox
Stephen Fox
2 years ago

i have a customer with a deck that is in fairly good condition. The previous person applied Thompson Waterseal Penetrating Timber Oil Cedar transparent stain. It is flaking off in places and is bonded well in others. I do not plan to use this product again, so i want to remove it. Will Restore A Deck stripper remove the Thompsons? Please advise

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Pamela Chance
Pamela Chance
2 years ago

Deck is about 12 years old. Have used Sherwin Williams stain products all this time. I think Original stain was oil base because the water based stain never lasted. Nephew power washed deck and now a big mess! Should I try a stripper and then try sanding???

Paul
Paul
2 years ago

Hi I have decking that needs the old ronseal stain removed as it’s started to peel. Could you recommend the best stripper and then what steps you would then follow. The decking is next to some artificial turf so I want something that isn’t going to affect that at all.
Thanks

Paul
Paul
2 years ago

Here you go

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Deb Loos
Deb Loos
2 years ago

I found your site and I am thrilled! I hope you can help me. I stained my deck 2 years ago using Valspar semi transparent stain. I prepped the deck the same way I have for the last 20 years. Now it is peeling! Never happened before. The deck is right next to a pool so I have a problem with the location. 1. Do I sand or strip! 2. do you have any recommendations for me? 3. Once it is prepped, do you recommend I use a semi transparent stain again? I am a 69 year old woman. Is it time for me to hire this to be done by an expert? Thank you so much.

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Jerry
Jerry
2 years ago

Hi- I made a porch swing out of red oak. We put it into service May of 2021 (Original Photo). Photos Example 1,2 & 3 show the deterioration of the finish and mold spots that have developed. I used 1 coat of Cabot Semi-Transparent Deck Stain as the finish. The label on the product can recommended only a single coat. Because the finish dried a little rough, I then waxed the surface with a paste wax which smoothed the final finish.

I am hoping that you can give me some direction on what to do next.

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Joe
Joe
2 years ago

Hi I like the info on your website! Very helpful.
Can I use RAD on the siding of my home? I have a Pan Abode cedar home. I have areas where black spot mold has developed on the wood. I coated one side of my home in Sikkens SRD about 8 years ago, but I need to redo that side due to weather and spot mold areas. I would rather not sand it off, if RAD will work. Thanks in advance for your input.

Joe
Joe
2 years ago

Thanks for the response.
The wood is a combination of Pan Abode Cedar wood and then 6’x1.5″
I look forward to your input.
I’m thinking First-RAD Stripper/Brightener.
In addition both RAD additives for vertical siding, and to penetrate the mold and former oil base stain sheen coat from older reapplication coats.
I don’t see the using the cleaner if I’m just going to use Stripper on this removal. I’m thinking of going with a water base stain for the next round of stain. Suggestions?

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Joe
Joe
2 years ago

Thank You. So with the concept- difficulty of the shine, in mind would it be better if I did a reasonable pass with an orbital sander 60-80 grit to knock down the shine and then did the stripping? Or just longer dwell time and no sanding? Or will I have to scrub after I applying the Stripper to get into the mold? I do appreciate your input!

Joe
Joe
2 years ago

Good advice thanks! I ordered up on the RAD stripper, additives and stain. I’ll post my findings.

John
John
2 years ago

I have to spot treat with the RAD stripper. Some drip marks from a previous attempt to strip won’t come off with either cleaning or sanding. The areas needing treatment are vertical and really aren’t large enough to spray. Can I brush the product on? Thank you.

John
John
2 years ago

thanks

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John
John
2 years ago

An update….I ordered and received the RAD Stripper and Gel.
Wanting only to treat a small area, I mixed 1/2 cup of stripper into
1/2 gal of water and then 4 oz of gel. After two applications, and brushing,
my ‘drip’ stains remain. Can you offer any advice? I can send pictures once the wood dries. Thanks.

Monica Whitaker
Monica Whitaker
2 years ago

My boyfriend and I bought a house and don’t know what stain was used on our porch. Is it a solid stain? The elements have nearly gotten it off, and we would like to restain it to help us sell it. We’ve never done anything like this before and are not sure what product would work best to get the remainder of the old stain off with minimal sanding. Any advice??

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Marina Torok
Marina Torok
2 years ago

We stained our deck 2 years ago and after reading all these comments realize that it probably looks as bad as it does because of improper prep. That being said…time to redo it. We originally used Cabots Australian Timber oil and are leaning towards using a solid stain this time. I started power washing and there’s still a lot of stain left behind..do I need to strip, use a cleaner, sand or just finish power washing and proceed with solid stain? Pictures sent..1st pic is pre power wash!
Thanks

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Kristi Soto
Kristi Soto
2 years ago

Purchased a home with a HUGE wraparound deck ( 30×18, 10×21, 4×21) and would love to replace- but am hoping we can squeeze a few more years out of this one. Currently, the largest deck has multiple layers ( atleast 3) of badly cracking, Peeling, lifting Sun Proof Acrylic latex solid stain from previous owners. We have tried pressure washing, scraping using CitriStrip- and nothing will penetrate to bare wood. Unsure what to do. Suggestions?

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Jane H
Jane H
2 years ago

Will Restore-A-Deck stain stripper work on old film-firming stain and remove completely? Thank you.

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