This post was updated on April 15, 2023
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 DeckStainHelp.com 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.
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
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.
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?
Hard to say but yes, you might need to sand a few areas that did not remove the old stain fully. If you sand, use 60-80 grit and lightly pressure wash all wood after.
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. :(((
We would need a total sq footage of all wood added up to help with this.