How to Remove a Deck Stain 4.9/5 (8)

This post was updated on January 19, 2022

How To Strip A Deck Stain

How To Strip A Deck Stain

How to remove deck stain properly from your wood before reapplying.

No matter how well you protect your stained deck, you may eventually have to strip and restain the wood. If you choose to change the color or brand of stain on your deck, you will have to strip it before applying the new stain or sealer. A stripper makes it easier to remove the old stain by weakening the bond between the stain and wood particles. The old stain can then be easily removed by using a pressure washer or scrub brush.

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

Here are some tips we recommend you follow to make deck stain removal a swift, painless process:

  1. Use a deck stripper if you are working with wood that has previously been stained. If you are working with a new wood surface or there is no stain on the deck, use a deck cleaner. If you are unsure about what to do, you can ask questions below.
  2. Remove all furniture from the area
  3. Wear protective clothing, gloves, and eyewear before going near the product. Mix or use the deck stain stripper according to the directions on the label. Test a small section of your deck before applying it to the whole area, as deck stain strippers vary in effectiveness. You may need a stronger formula if it doesn’t work on the tested area. See here if you need to remove a Difficult to Remove Deck or Wood Stain.
  4. Apply the deck stain stripper with a pump-up sprayer in sections of 100-300 square feet at a time. Saturate all the wood with one coat then wait 10-20 minutes. If the surface is slippery, that means the stain stripper is working to break the bonds effectively. If the surface is not slippery, apply another coat of the stain stripper and wait longer.
  5. Using either a brush or pressure washer, remove the old stain from the deck. Take precautions to wash with the grain wood whenever possible.
  6. Repeat this process until all of the old deck stain has been removed from the deck. Spot strip any sections where the stain didn’t come off the first time.
  7. Thoroughly rinse all wood and surrounding areas
  8. Apply a wood brightener to restore the pH balance before staining.

Do you have any questions on how to remove a deck stain? Leave any questions or comments below with any photos you may have of your projects.

How To Remove A Deck Stain – DeckStainHelp.com

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Sean
Sean
1 year ago

Just stained an older wood deck (pressure-treated pine) and really do not like the color or absorption. Is it possible to chemically strip new oil-based stain? The stain was Olympic brand and did not go well.

Sean
Sean
1 year ago

Here is a shot of the can. Just noticed it says lifetime warranty (not sure how that is possible on deck stain). Attached is also a photo of the deck. The color is not what I expected. Also this is approximately 24 hours after application and there are large areas of standing oil that may not absorb. I did not prep with brightener but did power wash. Not sure if this was a factor. At this point I would like to strip it and start over. My 7 year old son said it looks like poop. I think there is some truth in that statement.

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Liz G
Liz G
1 year ago

I currently have a solid stain on my deck and plan on switching stain brands for when I do a new maintenance coat. Do i need to completely strip and sand off ALL of the old stain before applying the new one, or can I just remove the loose and peeling stain then put the new coat of stain over the old?

Liz G
Liz G
1 year ago

I was under the impression that if you don’t remove all of the old stain when switching brand stains, the old stain can cause the new stain to fail and not perform well. Your thoughts?

Liz G
Liz G
1 year ago

Gotcha. So it’s only necessary to remove all old stain when switching brands of transparent, semi-transparent, & semi-solid stains?

Liz G
Liz G
1 year ago

Thanks!

Liz G
Liz G
1 year ago
Reply to  Liz G

Sorry, just wanted to ask one more thing. what are the actual steps involved in the maintenance process of reapplying a solid deck stain? pls let me know if these steps are correct: 1. pressure wash, 2. apply stripper, 3. sand off any loose stain, 4. reapply stain?

Liz G
Liz G
1 year ago

Also need to use a brightener after sanding and before reapplying the stain right?

Gary Hitzeman
Gary Hitzeman
1 year ago

Can Defy Stain Stripper be sprayed onto a cedar fence, (pump sprayer), to remove old transparent stain and then power washed? I will then be re-staining to a natural cedar color?

Thanks

Jenny
Jenny
2 years ago

Pictures are after stripping and sanding. Still need to do the wash/brightener step. We plan on using semi-transparent stain on the horizontal boards (dark brown/mahogany tone) and an off-white solid stain on the verticals. My question is, after we clean/brighten, can we go ahead and apply the solid stain to the verticals or will they need to be completely sanded to bare wood? Any stain brand recommendations would be great, too! Thank you!

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Jenny
Jenny
2 years ago

Thank you very much! Any recommendation for the horizontals? We like the color of Behr Cordovan Brown, but not sure on that brand. Any alternatives that have a similar shade that would hold up well? The deck is in full sun in Indiana a good portion of the day. The attached picture is the look we are going for. I have also heard of people adding in a varnish/polyurethane to each gallon of stain. Is that a good idea/necessary?

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Jenny
Jenny
2 years ago

Wow, thank you. I’m glad I asked! So any of those brands in a semi-transparent should be good to go for the horizontals then?

Jenny
Jenny
2 years ago

Do you have any other brand recommendations after those 3? I am having trouble locating any dealers in my area and unfortunately RAD is not accepting new orders at this time.

AMitch
AMitch
3 years ago

I recently purchased six distressed wood “beams” from a salvage yard. The wood is pine and the stain is slightly transparent, but way too dark for my tastes. Can you tell by looking at the photos, if Restore-A-Deck stripper will work on this? I am okay with some stain residue in the crevices, as I’d like them to look old – just lighter and more natural.
Thank you for any help! So appreciate forums and websites that offer help and suggestions, coupled with honest reviews regarding products and their limitations.

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lintort
lintort(@lintort)
3 years ago

Is it ever necessary to pressure wash (20 year old) deck before (re)staining?

lintort
lintort(@lintort)
3 years ago

I know it has to be prepped but when is pressure washing necessary?

lintort
lintort(@lintort)
3 years ago
Reply to  lintort

Yes, I realize you need to prep the deck but when is it necessary to pressure wash deck first?

lintort
lintort
3 years ago

I think I read on your site that stripper could be added to intake system on pressure washer machine. My estimator said that would create a huge mess?? True?? And, after using pressure washer and stripper, you put on brightener, then wash off with pressure washer machine? Thank you!

lintort
lintort
3 years ago

Stain was put on about 5 years ago . It was pressure washer 2 years ago.

Rynae Benson
Rynae Benson
3 years ago

Does Restore -A-Deck stripper work well with Ipe wood? I need to strip a fence.

Rynae Benson
Rynae Benson
3 years ago

Thank you for your quick reply. The fence contractor put the mini wax stain on it and when it started fading we found out we should be using something different (bottom can). We didn’t strip in between. So it looks awful now and we just got a $5,000 quote to strip and restain, so we want to try to do it on our own.

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Cathy
Cathy
3 years ago

What will the deck stripper do the lawn and soil underneath it? It sounds like a dangerous chemical. What are the environmental impacts?

Cathy
Cathy
3 years ago

Oh, that is a relief! Good to know! Thanks so much!

Chris
Chris
3 years ago

Thompson Waterseal HoneyBlond water base stain.

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David
David
3 years ago

After stripping off the old stain, how long should you wait before applying a brightener? And how long after applying the brightener should you wait before applying a new stain?

Chris
Chris
3 years ago

What’s the best chem mix for stripping water base stains. I use Sodium Hydroxide for removing oil base stains but not sure about water base stains. It was mentioned to me about mixing Sodium Hydroxide with some type of Butyl but not sure about mix ratios etc. Thanks for any help.

Chris
Chris
3 years ago

So I have a deck that has a semi-transparent water base stain on it that needs to be stripped and restained with RAD semi-transparent deck stain. How would I strip the previous semi-transparent water base stain off in order to apply the new stain? Are most stain strippers only made for stripping oil base stains off?

Chris
Chris
3 years ago

It’s Thompsons Waterseal. This is for a client of mine. They want the boat dock and this land deck done. The boat dock was rebuilt, the walkway from the dock to the land deck is original and was never stained, just needs thoroughly cleaned, but the land deck and furniture was stained over the past couple of years. They want all of it stained. So I told them to wait a few months for the new wood on the boat dock to cure/dry out and then I would come in and clean, briten, stain, plus have to strip the stain off of the land deck before applying the new RAD stain. They just informed me it was water base Thompson’s semi-transparent. I know from experience that most deck stain strippers are Sodium Hydroxide base and great for oil base stains but need something to strip this semi-transparent water base stain. Didn’t know if there was a product on the market that would be sufficient for the job.

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Chris
Chris
3 years ago

Thompson water seal

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