How To Remove a Solid Color Deck Stain or Paint  4.9/5 (8)

This post was updated on May 1, 2024

Removing a Solid Color Deck Stain

Solid (Opaque) deck stains are not transparent and will cover the wood fully, masking the wood grain. Once applied, a solid color deck stain or paint will film on top of the wood, and because of this, they can be prone to peeling over time.

One question we get often here at is how to remove a solid color deck stain or paint back down to the natural grain of the wood. There are a couple of options that will work for full removal.

RAD PaintStrip Test Board

RAD PaintStrip Test Board

Stripping a Solid Color Deck Stain

In the past, there have been few if any decent options to strip a solid color deck stain or paint. Newer to the market is the RAD PaintStrip.  RAD 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. Apply, and let the stripper work its magic. You can test the effectiveness by scraping paint off the surface down to the bare wood. Once it starts to lift easily with the scrapper, pressure wash it all off.

Pro Tip: The longer you let the RAD PaintStrip work, the easier it will be to pressure wash it off.

See Full Review: RAD PaintStrip Solid Stain Stripping Gel

Sanding a Solid Color Deck Stain

Power sanding your deck stain or paint will remove your solid stain coating but it can be very time-consuming and costly.

When power sanding your solid color deck stain, it is important to use the correct sanding grit on your deck. The recommended sanding grit is 60 to 80. This is because a higher grit could make the deck too smooth, and will close down the pores of the wood. Start with 60 grit paper and finish with 80 grit. Make sure to sand all wood evenly.

To remove a solid deck stain or paint, you may need a floor drum sander for the flooring and a hand or belt sander for the verticals.

Best Option For Removing a Solid Color Deck Stain

We prefer the stripping method with the RAD PaintStrip. It will remove most if not all your old coatings from the wood.

Any questions on removing a solid deck stain or paint, please ask in the comments below

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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Jonathan J.
Jonathan J.
13 days ago

Hi Scott! This deck was neglected by the previous owner and It will be my big spring project. There are no clues as to the brand of stain used previously. I’m trying to figure out if I will need to use RAD PaintStrip or if another paint stripper will work. I plan to clean and brighten after stripping. I would also love to hear suggestions on specific stains to use. I included a picture of the railing that better represents the color of the previous stain.

Bill A
Bill A
6 months ago

Hi Scott,
Have a 25yo cedar porch deck that has had Austrailian Timber Oil applied several times over the years. Now I’m replacing some of the porch deck boards and want to use same Timber Oil product but color isn’t matching. Original boards are much darker (due to multiple applications?) than newly stained boards. Will your strip/brighten process get me back to original color on the old cedar boards so my new boards will match?

7 months ago

when using RAD paint stripper on deck do I have to use brightener afterwards?

Dave T
Dave T
8 months ago

Hi Scott,

I have a 600 sqft deck that’s greater than 35 years old, built before I bought the house. No rot. We hired someone to stain it a few years back and they used a solid stain. The solid did ok, but it’s fading and starting to peel. I like the look of the wood, so want to go to a semi-transparent.

I sanded with a drum sander, started with 20, then 40, then 60, then 80 grit. Most looks great, but there’s some cupping and some parts where there’s valleys in the grain and the stain remains.

I ordered Defy deck cleaner, and Defy brightener, along with TWP 102. I suspect I need to now use a stripper to get the last bits of solid stain up before I clean/brighten/stain? Do you think a citristrip (sold at Ace) will work ok for the relatively small areas? I ask because the RAD takes a week to ship and I’m running out of time before I travel and then the weather turns bad. Then again, I’m assuming after all of the sanding I can stain right away. Not sure if I need to let the deck season through the winter then clean/brighten/stain in the spring?

Unfortunately I don’t know the type of wood I have. It’s in 16 foot lengths, 3 5/8 inches wide which doesn’t seem like a common size.

Attached are some pictures of the deck and how much I’ve sanded, with a bit of the old stain at the edges so you can opine if it’s solid stain or not. I’m going to do the railings in solid stain for contrast, so I’m not concerned with getting the old finish totally off of them.

Appreciate the help.

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8 months ago

Hello! For the paint strip, is a pressure washer required or can we get all that paint off using something else? Thanks!

1 year ago

AFTER RAD StrippeR, would you still need to sand? Because I don’t think the stripper would remove everything 100%…or would it? I know sanding is not recommended before staining due to raised fibers, so what would you do in a case where you want to remove old paint with the stripper and then use only semi-solids or transparents after that?

Sarah Guthrie
Sarah Guthrie
1 year ago

Hi Scott! I really messed up. I had a brand new deck and fence built 3 years ago. I hired company to stain it and they suggested a solid dark stain. It’s peeling and lifting like you said and also incredibly sombre and ugly.

I have to start over. I am going to order the RAD paintstrip gel. Could you help me figure out how much I need? I have to strip the entire multi-level deck, the sides of the deck and 80 feet of fencing. :(((

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