How to Change From Water Based to Oil Based Exterior Decking Stain and Vice Versa
The longevity of a deck or other exterior wood structure depends highly on how well it is maintained. A wood surface left alone or neglected will not last long in the harsh environment. Wood needs to be sealed and protected from moisture, UV rays, mold, mildew and such contaminants that will cause rot and decay. The most common types of wood protectants are oil and water based.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Once a wood surface is coated with a particular type of stain it is usually maintained every few years with another light maintenance coat of the same type stain. However, on occasion some homeowners may decide to change from oil based to a water based stain or vice versa.
To do this successfully a few guidelines need to be followed.
When switching from one particular type of stain to another, you have to remember the characteristics of the stains you are working with. These two types of stains will not perform well together. If the wood has a penetrating oil based stain on it now, a water based stain will not be able to penetrate the wood. If it is film forming stains you are dealing with, they will not adhere well and normally the topcoat of stain will fail prematurely.
To successfully change from oil based to water based or vice versa, you have to remove all of the existing stain. There are products like Restore-A-Deck Stain Stripper or HD80 that can help break down existing stains to make them easier to remove. The stripper is applied to the wood surface and allowed to dwell. It works to soften the stain so the wood surface can then be pressure washed or scrubbed clean. A second step of wood brightener is then applied to neutralize the stripper and prepare the wood for new stain.
Removing an old stain and getting back down to bare wood is the only way to ensure the new stain will adhere or penetrate the wood properly. Removing an old stain is not always easy. Solid stains and some water based stains can be extremely stubborn. They may take several attempts to strip and sanding may be necessary. Once the existing stain is gone you can apply the new oil or water based stain to a clean wood surface.
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