This post was updated on January 18, 2023
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In 1993 we started restoring exterior wood and decks and that led us to start DeckStainHelp.com which has become the internet’s largest resource for all things deck restoration related. Our deck restoration business restored over 10,000 decks and during that time, we have tried nearly every brand of deck stain and deck sealant on the market. DeckStainHelp.com was started 10 years ago as a way to help consumers find and use better prep and stain products and give customized help towards each individual deck or wood restoration project out there. There have been currently over 74,000 Deck Stain related Questions and Answers on this site since it was started.
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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.
Our 1-2 year old pressure treated wood deck was sealed/stained last year with Olympic waterguard transparentwood stain and sealer. The wood looks dry and we want to re-apply more stain/seal for deck maintenance. The deck itself is a little rough but not uneven. Do we need to pressure wash, sand, and then stain/re-seal? or can we just wash the deck, allow it to dry and re-seal? Ie: can we basically just layer a new stain and seal or does the entire deck need to be sanded down?
Whenever you switch brands of semi-transparent stains, you need to remove the old coating first. You will need to strip and brighten for prep and possibly sand. We would need pictures posted for proper help with prep.
Thank you: for further reference, this is a full time exposed roof deck in Washington DC where we have both extremes of temperature.
What if we were to use the same brand? Would you not recommend that because of the quality of the product? Here are some photos of our deck.
If you use the same brand and color, then use a deck cleaner followed by a wood brightener. The prep is the same difficulty as stripping/brightening.
What would be the best stain to use?
Deck location: South central Texas
Sun/shade 90% sun 10% shade
Wood type: treated wood
Will be staining a new fence and pier (4 years old)
Also, what do I use to prep the pier, it’s been grey for a while.
Prep with a cleaner and then a brightener. Use Restore A Deck Kits for this.
Stain with a semi-transparent penetrating stain like the Restore A Deck Stains or Armstrong Clark Stains.
Awesome thank you! Realistically what kind of dry time am I looking at? We have high humidity & can have some really damp dewy mornings and also random rain showers. Does the wood need 2 weeks between days like that before I stain?
Varies based on the stain brand you choose. Restore A Deck Stains are the easiest as you can prep and stain the same day as the stain can be applied to damp wood.
Whats the rule on how long the wood needs to be dry? We are in a pretty high humidity area and have random rain showers or super dewy/damp mornings. How long does my ages wood need to be “dry” before staining?
What would be the best stain to use?
Deck location: California
Sun/shade 70% sun 30% shade
Wood type: redwood
Last stain: showed wear in traffic areas even though traffic is minimal
Stain: Olympic Maximum semi-transparent black walnut
Remove all the Olympic first and then try TWP 1500 Series stain or Restore A Deck Stains.
So I bought a home with existing deck approx 20 yrs old with 2×6 cedar that’s rotted in various locations. Ive been replacing bad boards with treated 2×6 over past several years and applying PPG Timeless semi transparent/ semi solid water base which in some areas is going over new wood and majority over old which has several coats of who knows. This summer I replaced another 20 deck boards and all the rotted 2×2 balusters on railing that I’m replacing with hog wire. I bought RAD stripper with additives but some of the older stain looks solid which I read it will not remove so I may have to go back to solid. I want to use AC oil but if I can’t remove all of the old stain which I believe is latex will it adhere? I’d like to avoid sanding. Also the deck has new green stripes everywhere and I read stripper will make them fuzzy? I’m thinking I’ll complete the rail system for safety and wait till spring to strip, brighten and stain the deck so the treated has time to weather. Will the stripper solution remain active for 6 months or should I make a smaller quantity? Sorry this sounds so convoluted. Thankyou
The decking is stripping nicely but I can’t remove baluster marks and I’ve noticed flexible strings of what appears to be paint on some of the railing. Thanks
Okay Scott I’ve read enough that I’ll use a solid on the areas that won’t strip and go with semi transparent oil on decking. I’ll make sure whatever solid is left on has good adhesion after sanding. Maybe a two tone. Thanks again
One more thing I keep reading is semi solid and semi transparent. What’s the difference?
Opacity. Less grain shows with a semi-solid.
Hi Scott, how much time can elapse between brightening and staining ? Also how long after applying ac semi transparent is it rain proof and frost proof? Thanks so much for your informative site
Stain within two weeks of prep for best results. 6-24 hours after applying.
Thank you. Also, what is the shelf life of open packages of cleaner and Brightner? Thanks again.
Depends if mixed with water or not. In powder form, they last many years if stored correctly.
In early March of this year, we added a lower level PTP deck to the house we purchased 2 years ago (on a lake in N. Georgia. The house is only 5 years old). The top deck already has white balusters and we just can’t remove and update. I’ve established (through your articles) the prep process and that we’ll use semi-transparent TWC or Armstrong Clark. My question involves color: do you (or do you have have anyone) who will help with color ideas? We need to tie in the white (I think). Our son (who does advertising in NYC and has the technology) mocked up one idea (also included in pics).
1. How do we “stain” white? Or does this have to be paint?
2. We need to do the actual deck floor area in a brown or cedar color, I think, because we have too much gray (hot tub will not be moved to stain)
3. Should top handrail be the same as the floor?
4. Thinking we need dark gray for all the underneath area to help it all “disappear” (we’ll plant in front of the underneath area later).
Adding pics of the deck and one that was colorized. It is NOT currently stained or painted!) Any help is greatly appreciated!!
You have a two-toned deck. See here for tips: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/why-have-a-two-toned-deck/
Keep all verticals white with a solid stain, try Restore A Deck. Use a brown semi-transparent color for the floors. Try TWP in Dark Oak or Restore A Deck in Dark Walnut.
No need to stain the undersides outside of aesthetic reasons.
Thank you. One more question: Should we use oil based? I’m guessing yes, but thought I’d ask. TWP 100 will penetrate better than 1500, correct? (I’m aware Georgia doesn’t have a VOC law; we used TWP in our last house) OR, is water based better here?
OK, 2 more questions: We are going to stain the sports and underneath. A 3rd color (charcoal?) would look ok, in your opinion, correct?
Both TWP 100 and 1500 are oil-based. Water-based and oil-based will work equally well as long as you are using a high-end penetrating wood stain.
Color choices would be up to you. We do not like to offer advice on this as everyone has different tastes.
I am building a home in South West Colorado with a lot of exterior timbers. The timbers are rough sawed fir. The fir is clean and new. What would be the best exterior semitransparent wood stain for this project. Most of the timbers are under roof and partially protected. So all of this is vertical wood, no decks.
Thanks for your help. This area gets a lot of snow in the winter.
TWP 1500 Series or Restore A Deck Semi-transparent stain.
From reading on the website it appears one needs to wait at least 3 months before applying these stains to new wood, is this your view as well? It seems that I remember a comment that TWP may not be a good product for new wood? What are your thoughts about using TWP 1500 series on new wood?
Thanks so much for taking time to answer these questions.
Yes, you have to wait and prep all deck stain brands before applying them to new wood unless rough san cut like yours. If your wood is a rough cut, then you can use the TWP now.
Is the RESTORE A DECK semitransparent ok to put on now with rough sawn fir or do I need to wait. ?
You can put it on now.
Thanks so much. Your website and you are awesome. This has been a big help. Have a great day.
I tried staining our deck and it didn’t come out like we wanted at all. I’ve tried using Valspur Wood Stripper to remove the stain and it doesn’t seem to be doing the job. Any suggestions? Thanks.
What stain brand and type did you use?
Behr semi transparent
It was behr semi-transparent
You will probably have to sand it off to get it all off. Behr is not easy to strip, especially when just applied.
Howlong can u wait to stain a deck after prepping
Try to stain within a couple of weeks of prep.
Can composite (TREX) deck be stained to different color? and should I use oil or water based? How many gallons to cover 16X32?
Post some pictures.
Just installed a new deck and screen room in May 2022 with #1 grade pine in Raleigh NC. In reading will wait 4 months before staining.
Question is for my location, what is best stain to use? semi transparent vs semisolid?
Location of deck has very shady location and will not have tremendous traffic on it.
Thank you for your assistance.
We like semi-transparent penetrating stains best: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/the-5-best-deck-stain-reviews-and-ratings/
For pressure treated lumber do you have to stain a deck after stripping it and using brightener and can you leave it natural or does the whole stripping process destroy the treated chemical?
Stripping does not harm the internal treated chemicals of pressure-treated wood. You should always stain after prep to protect for UV graying, water damage, mildew, etc.
Does restore a deck fill in the wood where cracked
No. Deck stains do not fill cracks in the wood.