Deck Stripping – How to Remove an Old Deck Stain  4.8/5 (97)

This post was updated on May 1, 2024

How To Remove an Old Deck Stain

Those who are familiar with deck staining are aware of how important each step of the process is, especially the initial prepping that precedes the stain. In this article, we discuss the importance of using a quality deck stain stripper when you have an old coating on your deck you need to remove. We always appreciate your input, so feel free to leave a comment below with pictures of your deck stain projects.

Note: See here if you need to remove a Difficult to Remove Deck or Wood Stain.


Stripping an Old Deck Stain

Failing Deck Stain

When it comes to restoring an older wood deck, it’s extremely important to prep the wood correctly. Not doing so can lead to premature failure of the new deck stain. No matter the brand or cost of a deck stain, it will not last as long as it should if it isn’t applied to a perfectly cleaned and prepped surface.

One of the biggest mistakes DIY homeowners make in cleaning and preparing a wood deck for stain is not removing all remnants of old deck stain. Any failed deck stain that is left on the wood will block the new stain from penetrating the surface properly. The new deck stain will sit on top of the wood instead of diving into it. Deck stains do not adhere to each other well so this causes the newer deck stain to begin flaking and peeling off the deck normally in a year or less. Even if you can’t see any old deck stain but you know there was some on the wood at one time, it’s vitally important to remove it. Splash some water on the wood and see if it absorbs into the wood or if it beads up and sits on top. Beading up would indicate there is some type of old failed stain on the wood that needs to be removed.

To remove old deck stain from the wood you have to use a deck stripper. A quality deck stripper will break up and soften any old stain allowing it to be washed away. Most deck strippers will not remove solid stain or paints if this is the case you may have to sand the old stain to get back down to bare wood again.

Once the deck has been washed with a deck stripper and the old deck stain is gone, it is necessary to brighten the wood using a wood brightener. The deck stripper will darken the wood and raise the pH level. To brighten the wood back to a natural state, and lower the pH to a more acidic level, will restore the appearance and give the new deck stain the best chance of lasting as long as possible.

A properly cleaned and brightened deck should be allowed to dry for several days before a quality deck stain is applied. Taking these measures and using a deck stripper and deck brightener before staining will give you much better and longer-lasting results.

Deck Stain Stripping: Deck Stain Stripper Reviews

How To Strip A Deck Stain – DeckStainHelp.com

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

author avatar
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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Kathy
Kathy
10 days ago

How can I remove peeling RESTORE Deck stain ? The type that had law suits because it peeled. Thank you.

Jodi
Jodi
10 months ago

I have a large deck that is painted with a solid color stain (previous owners didn’t take care of this house). You can see there are two colors going on here. What do you recommend for removing absolutely all color? There are also a lot of areas with wood rot that need to be replaced. I want to get our deck back to a beautiful brown wood stained color.

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Konni Barich
Konni Barich
11 months ago

I have a large deck built with treated wood. It is partially stained with a stain that was too red. I want to remove this stain and apply a different stain, one with more brown tones. How can I prep the whole deck (stained and pressure treated) so it takes the stain equally?

Konni
Konni
11 months ago

Hopefully you can see this picture

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MARJORIE C WOOTEN
MARJORIE C WOOTEN
1 year ago

Age of porch with bloody dog footprints in recent comment – 25 years

MARJORIE C WOOTEN
MARJORIE C WOOTEN
1 year ago

Removal of dog blood from porch,several bloody dog footprints from an injury; porch never been stained or painted, advise removal of the blood,

Yvonne
Yvonne
1 year ago

Good Evening, I have a 20-year-old Cedar deck that I need to re-stain as so as possible. I believe after reading so many posts I should try the Restore A Deck. I’ve been trying to see if it kills grass and flowers. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Rich J.
Rich J.
1 year ago

Hello,
it’s great you’re providing this resource! The deck I am working on is a hardwood deck that has been stained with an oil semi transparent stain every year for the last 15 years. Some of the decking was black before I started this project. So far, I have used a stain remover, followed by a wood brightener. I have not achieved my desired appearance yet. Can you please provide advice on how to proceed? I have attached photos.

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Rich J.
Rich J.
1 year ago

Just following up to say that it’s looking much better. I used the floor buffer with 60-grit mesh sandpaper and a scrubbing pad as backer on the entire deck which really helped to bring back the wood grain appearance I’m looking for. Is it ready for stain, or should I do something else before that? The look is a little inconsistent, but the stain will probably blend everything and make the inconsistency disappear.

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Kathy R
Kathy R
1 year ago

I had a new deck installed 3 years ago. I treated all the wood with Penofin (clear) blue label at that time. It, of course (now reading your reviews), turned to a dark gray. I used a product called Sun Frog Deck Cleaner to prep the deck for re-treatment. I was unhappy with the Penofin because water seemed to just soak into my deck and I live in Oregon and we have a lot of rain. I then saw that Penofin made a product that was a Stain and Sealer so decided I would try that. They didn’t make it in clear, so I chose the Cedar finish (it is a cedar deck). I should have stopped immediately, but with the rainy season fast approaching, I figured I just needed to get something on the wood. Now, however, I just can’t stand how dark it has made my deck. I need your advice – I have thought about just completing the deck in this Penofin so that when I attempt to strip it next year at least it will have a similar look everywhere. That is, unless there is a product that can completely remove all this freshly applied Penofin. The staining is about 1/3 completed. So, is there a product that will completely remove this fresh stain? Please tell me all the products I should use (it sounds like a brightener is another important step, that I have never used). The TWP 100 series is rated the best on your site so I will use that next time (should I get clear or cedar to get the look that you have on your banner above?). Thank you so much for your help!!

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C T
C T
1 year ago

Hi Scott. We stripped and brightened our cedar deck yesterday, and today found we missed removing some of the stain in part of the deck. The stain is TWP 100 rustic and looked almost new in that area since it was in a covered area. It was very difficult to remove compared to the rest of the deck but we missed it last night when the deck was wet. Since we plan to use the same stain again will it be a problem? I was thinking of spot stripping that area but spot stripping does not seem recommended due to leaving uneven results after staining. Would spot sanding be better? Attached are pictures of the uncovered area and the problem area.

BTW the RAD stripper worked awesome. We had sanded the deck before and this works so much easier, We also love the TWP stain and this forum.
Thanks

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Sandra Kelly
Sandra Kelly
1 year ago

I had a contractor re-stain my deck and it is very sticky three weeks later and every bit of Lindt and dust is just stuck to it there is also footprints on it

Max
Max
1 year ago

Excuse me…I used the same, albeit poor, stripper – Valspar

Max
Max
1 year ago

Stripped stain off IPE deck. Decking to the right was done 2 weeks before the decking to the left. Used the same, albeit poor, stain – Valspar. Do I need to sand the decking on the left? Will exposure allow it to eventually blend?

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Lisa
Lisa
1 year ago

I spilled pool chlorine on my pressure treated deck. How can I remove the stain?

TomL
TomL
2 years ago

Hello. I am getting ready to tackle our 16′ x 14′ pool deck. My plan was to strip, brighten, sand, and stain the top railing and deck boards and leave the sides and balusters alone since they are in good shape. Can this be stripped off with stripper and a power washer or do I need to sand it off?

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TomL
TomL
2 years ago

I was planning on using the Defy stain stripper as I can get it locally. Is there anything special I should do with it to make getting this stain off easier?

TomL
TomL
2 years ago

Would the RAD kit remove more stain or make the process easier or are they both the same in your experience?

TomL
TomL
2 years ago

If I was to stain with a semi-solid, is all the prep work (strip, brighten, sand) still required? What if I was to stain with a solid stain? This is a pool deck, and I definitely don’t want to be re-doing the deck every couple of years because of the extra care needed to keep everything away from the pool itself.

TomL
TomL
2 years ago

If the existing stain is water-based, can I cover the intact stain that is not peeling with an oil-based solid stain?

TomL
TomL
2 years ago

For power sanding any remaining stain off, what is best to use? A 5″ random orbital sander, a 1/4 sheet sander, belt sander, etc?

TomL
TomL
2 years ago

Thanks. And if that is not enough?

TomL
TomL
2 years ago

After stripping, does it matter whether I brighten first and then sand with 60-80 grit or is it best to sand and then brighten?

TomL
TomL
2 years ago

Thanks. I finished stripping the stain with stripper and pressure washer. I do have some lap marks from the pressure washer as some of the stain was more difficult to get off than in other areas. I do plan to sand the entire deck with 60-80 grit. Will the sanding remove the lap marks? If not, what would you recommend?

TomL
TomL
2 years ago

Thanks. I will try 60 grit first and if that does not work will go to 40 grit.

TomL
TomL
1 year ago
Reply to  TomL

I finished the sanding and brightening on Saturday. It rained today, so I need to wait a couple days for the wood to dry. I was hoping to get the deck finished before the trees around it started dropping little flowers, but they have started to do so. I can wait a few days to see if that will end, but then I think that the pollen will start up.

So, what to do? If I do not stain in the next 1-2 weeks, will the deck be ok with no stain on it over the summer? If I wait until the fall, will I need to clean with a deck cleaner, sand, and brighten all over again?

Last edited 1 year ago by TomL
Ted Marsters
Ted Marsters
2 years ago

I am about to address a significant stain application problem on my western red cedar siding and need advice. Can the info you provide on decking be applied to siding? Can I ask questions about siding on your website? If not, can you suggest an alternative source for help on siding? Thank you. Ted

Anthony654
Anthony654
2 years ago

Could use some advice on a 25-year-old deck. Treated twice w/ SW stain remover & revive but it didn’t get all the old stain off. Plan was to sand deck to remove remaining stain & smooth surface since it’s in rough shape. But I’ve since learned that sanding pressure-treated wood is hazardous, so now I’m stuck. Just trying to get a couple more years out of the deck before i replace w/ a composite. Per HOA rules, will use semi-transparent stain.

Thinking there are 3 options: 1) sand it (which i think would do the job but is dangerous healthwise); 2) buy a more hardcore stripper (not sure what that would be); 3) spot strip w/ leftover SW stripper, stain, and live with the spotty result. Any insight would be appreciated.

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Last edited 2 years ago by Anthony654
Anthony654
Anthony654
2 years ago

Thanks. Which would look worse: staining over the remaining stain or staining over spot sanding? Leaning toward not sanding the whole deck due to the PT wood, so aiming for “good enough.”

Anthony654
Anthony654
2 years ago

Deck assistance

Last edited 2 years ago by Anthony654
BRENDA PADDOCK
BRENDA PADDOCK
2 years ago

DECKING HAS BEEN STAINED AND OILED ABOUT 6 ONTHS AGO …BUT WE DONT LIKE IT AND WOULD PREFER TO PAINT …ANT ADVICE ON WHAT WE SHOUÑD DO?

K. Merritt
K. Merritt
2 years ago

I applied 2 gallons of Maximum 1 Gal. Honey Gold Exterior Stain and Sealant in One Low VOC to the interior of my screened in porch. I need more and can’t get any unless I drive 2 hours to get it. Since it has recently been applied, will using deck stripper work? Or will it have to be sanded?

K. Merritt
K. Merritt
2 years ago

Here’s my porch with the Olympic Max Honey Gold exterior stain and sealant.

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Rachelle Couture
Rachelle Couture
2 years ago

Kitchen cupboards were painted and then a layer of stain was added to gloss it. how to remove it all so I can repaint.

Karen Brown
Karen Brown
2 years ago

How long after stripping the deck can we stain it

Brad Motteler
Brad Motteler
3 years ago

I’m using TWP 1500 semi transparent pecan on the deck in the attached pics. I’ve power washed it, should I use a stripper and brightener or just sand before staining?

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Brad Motteler
Brad Motteler
3 years ago

After I sand do I need to power wash again and use a Brightener or can I just clean the dust off and stain ?

Brad Motteler
Brad Motteler
3 years ago

Thank you!

Jenny
Jenny
3 years ago

Will this product remove Behr oil-latex redwood stain?

Linda Kay Whitehead
Linda Kay Whitehead
3 years ago

I purchased a stain from Lowes and was told it was water base, transparent, it was Warm Puddy. the color was a light color with a brown tone. Told that the natural wood grain would show. It was Valspar produce. They mixed the stain, handed it off to my workers and they off to stain the deck. When I saw what was done I was in shock. It looks like white paint. Not at all transparent just looks like white paint. The house is built all green so now I have no idea what to do to get it back to the natural wood. It changed the whole look of the house. It looks like plasic white paint. I cried for two days. Please give me advise.
Linda

Greg Pierce
Greg Pierce
3 years ago

I prepared my deck and decided on a light red clear stain.My deck has a step down and buts up to my pool deck. I used a brush to trim out by the pool edge and step up. When I used a roller on the deck itself, I got the color I wanted, but the trim area is much darker. What can I use on the trim area to achieve the lighter shade on the deck?
Thanks

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