How to Restore Your Deck all in One Day 4.9/5 (22)

This post was updated on May 10, 2022

Tips on Restoring Your Deck in One Day

In recent years there have been a few new deck and wood stains coming to the market that allow the ability to prep and stain your deck all on the same day. As contractors in the deck restoration business, this allows us to save money and more importantly time by completing everything on the same day. No need to wait days or even weeks for the wood to dry or the rainy weather to cooperate. This frees up a lot of time for the average homeowner as the task of redoing the deck or exterior wood does not take up multiple weekends.

Here are the 3 basic restoration steps on prepping and staining your deck on the same day.

Step 1:  Choose a Deck Cleaner or Deck Stain Stripper?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before choosing a cleaner or stripper.  Is your wood new or old? Does the wood have a stain on it already?  If so, do you know what type of stain they previously used on the wood? Is the stain water-based or oil-based?  What is the brand?   Are you happy with the stain and color that is already on the wood?  These questions above will help you decide between the cleaner or stripper.  The description of each product will help you narrow down what best suits your project.

There are two options for the initial prep, a Deck Cleaner or a Deck Stain Stripper

Deck Cleaner

The deck cleaner is just that, a cleaner. The cleaner will remove dirt, grime mold, and mildew. A cleaner can be used on any new wood and old wood.  Deck cleaners can also be used on decks with stain already on it and you are recoating with the exact same brand and color of the stain. Deck cleaners are not formulated to remove existing deck stains, that job is for the deck stripper.  Cleaners are a milder detergent, so it will clean without harming wood fibers, pets, grass, and most plants.  After the deck is cleaned and rinsed you are ready to go onto step 2.  Depending on the brand you choose, step 2 will be called either a brightener or neutralizer.

Deck Stripper

The deck stripper is what you would choose if you are wanting to remove an old stain coating.  Stripper quickly and efficiently removes a variety of finishes.  Some examples are oil, water, latex-based finishes including clear sealers, transparent stains, and semi-transparent stains.  On top of removing stains, it also takes off dirt, mold, mildew, and mill glaze.  Since this product is a strong chemical, it is best to keep surrounding plants and grass wet and rinsed or even cover objects you don’t want the stripper to get on.  Keep children and pets away from the stripper also.  Spray the stripper on also with a pump sprayer and let it sit for about 20 minutes.  After the dwell time, use a pressure washer to remove. You may have to do this process a few times to get the stain off properly.  If you are unable to remove 100% of the old stain with the stripper you will have to sand those hard to remove areas. Use sanding paper that is not finer than 80 grit. After that is complete proceed to Step 2, which is called brightener or neutralizer depending on which brand you choose.

Step 2:  Wood Brightener/Neutralizer

After completing Step 1 with either the cleaner or stripper, you will begin step 2, which is using the brightener or neutralizer (depending on which brand you pick).  Brightener is used to neutralize the PH balance of the wood which allows for a proper application of the wood stain.  The brightener gives your wood surfaces a clean looking finish that will get you ready for your 3rd step which is staining.  You will apply the brightener with a pump sprayer, allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes and then rinse off for 20 minutes with a garden hose or a light pressure wash.  Next will be your 3rd Step which is finding a deck stain that can be used for the damp wood application.

Step 3: Staining the Same day as the Prep

The key to staining on the same day as prep is to allow all the visible water to dry off the deck. It can be applied to damp wood to the touch not soaking wet wood. Make sure that when applying you only apply as much stain as the wood can absorb. Do not over apply a semi-transparent deck stain.

Deck After Prep

Damp Deck After Prep

Deck Prep and Stain in One Day

Deck Prep and Stain in One Day

Restore-A-Deck Wood Stain is the best stain we have tested can be applied to dry or damp wood, saving you a tremendous amount of time. The RAD Wood stain actually easier and soaks in better when the wood is damp. We have started to use the stain on a more consistent due to its overall performance and time savings.

The other brand of stain that allows damp wood application is The BEHR Premium Quick Dry Oil Base Wood Finish. We did not have good results with this product and you can read our review here: BEHR Premium Quick Dry Oil Base Wood Finish. You can also read other consumer reviews on the HD site where it is rated poorly as well.

How To Restore Your Deck All in One Day – DeckStainHelp.com

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Michael
Michael
1 year ago

My deck is 22 years old (possibly cedar, not regular pressure treated wood) and was stained several times with a solid stain, most recently three to five years ago. A BEHR or Sherwin Williams product was used. It gets intense Atlanta GA direct sun from 2 PM to 5 PM. The boards have cracks and I’ve filled them with DAP Plastic Wood All-purpose wood filler. I’m trying to determine whether I should prime the boards after sanding and cleaning them. I have purchased Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Water-based Interior/Exterior Primer. Also, I have bought Sherwin Williams SuperDeck Waterbourne Formula Exterior Deck Stain.

Do I need to prime the deck or can I just apply the Exterior Deck Stain? Is Zinsser compatible with SWP SupoerDeck Solid Stain?

I didn’t realize how complicated this area is. Please let me know the correct way to move forward. Thank You!

VR,

Michael

marilyn a finney
marilyn a finney
1 year ago

I have a redwood color deck. Can I change the color to Cape Cod Gray with a Cabot Acrylic solid stain and sealer without stripping it first??

Courtney Wasyluk
Courtney Wasyluk
1 year ago

Hi!
We just bought a house with a large wrap around deck that we love. It was definitely that gray, dirty untaken care of color when we got it. No clue when it was last stained and our neighbor said it’s many years old and surprised it’s still in such good shape since old owners did not take care of it.

Before I found this website I tried to follow the Home Depot guide.

So far my husband power washed, used a deck cleaner, and power washed again. We reallllyyy want to start using the deck ASAP. The deck now looks like brand new color wise (raw wood look). Would it be okay to use the restore a deck brightner and stain? I’m nervous because I saw you cannot put water based over oil based and I have no clue what was used prior. We also don’t want to really strip the deck now that we already did the cleaner.

Courtney Wasyluk
Courtney Wasyluk
1 year ago

Thank you!

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Courtney Wasyluk
Courtney Wasyluk
1 year ago

Great! Considering we do not know if it was ever stained before or what it was stained with, do you recommend using a specific kind of stain? I’m concerned to use the water based restore a deck and have it not adhere well

Kevin
Kevin
1 year ago

We stained our treated pine deck with TP-100 after using the Gemini cleaning process – that was in late 2017 — we need to re-stain the deck — obviously should have done sooner, but it is what it is — do we need to use the Gemini process again? We are using the TP-100 again — it was an excellent product for us — we just should have reapplied much sooner..

Kevin
Kevin
1 year ago

Thank you – appreciate your fast reply!

Jane Stewart
Jane Stewart
1 year ago

IHave sanded with an orbital sander down to bare wood now im going to stain i didnt brighten .should i have ? And should i apply thompsons water seal over the stain and if so how soon after

John
John
1 year ago

Hi, I have a cedar deck and will be using RAD stripper and brightener tomorrow to remove the old stain I applied 4 years ago and now looks like crap. I won’t be staining on the same day, and quite possibly not for a couple weeks after. I’ve watched some of the videos here and there is a lot of discussion about staining right after when the wood is wet. If I decide to stain the day after or the week after, do you recommend I wet the deck again? Or is there a good stain I can use on dry wood? Do I need to reapply brightener right before staining if I stain at a later date? I live in the Pacific Northwest if that makes any difference. Any advice would be appreciated.

John
John
1 year ago

Thank you. Do you need to do any sanding on the deck after strip/brighten and before staining?

John Wrobel
John Wrobel
1 year ago

Hello. I have used Deck Revive on my deck twice and have gotten 17 years of use out of my deck. I also of course used their primer with it. The product is now starting to lose it’s adhesion ans is lifting in about 30% of the surface area. We will be selling our hime and want to do a quick fix if possible. My question is can I use a regular acrylic latex solid deck paint over the Deck Revive? Thanks.

John W
John W
1 year ago

Thank you.

L Parker
L Parker
1 year ago

I have a large deck that is 2yrs old. It was treated with Thompsons clear waterseal when new and another coat applied at 1 yr. I am not pleased with the effectiveness of Thompsons product and would like to use something different. Some areas are bleached almost white and some are perfectly aged.. I like the natural color of pt yellow pine as it has aged and would like to stay in same color range. I would like a product that lasts and process isn’t too labor intense to apply. What product do you recommend for my project?

Anne
Anne
2 years ago

I am getting my deck power washed tomorrow morning (Thursday). I need to stain the deck after that and have it be dry by Saturday evening. What products do you recommend to do that?

Jennifer
Jennifer
2 years ago

I spent the past two days stripping and brightening the railing around my 16×16 deck (lots of spindles). Tomorrow I have to sand those small areas where the stain didn’t come off. I won’t have time to stain until next week. Should I brighten after I sand tomorrow or before I stain next week? I am using RAD products which are working very well. Thanks!

Rochelle
Rochelle
2 years ago

I had my deck extended to 24 feet long.. Now I am ready to get it stained. I have been giving estimates from $1100 to $2400 what is the right price to pay or should I do it myself

Daniel LeBlanc
Daniel LeBlanc
2 years ago

I was told by our HOA that SuperDeck Exterior Oil-Based Semi-Transparent Stain was the “approved” deck stain
and I could not to use anything else.

“Last year” I sanded my entire deck, followed all instructions, and stained the deck.

I then found and began reading reviews on SuperDeck and they were not good.

Since my deck was done last year can I clean the deck and apply another brand of Oil based Semi-transparent Stain?
My current color is a dark brown and a different brand does not have to be a perfect match.

Seems like as long as I use another brand that is an Oil-Based Semi-Transparent Stain, I should be
able clean my deck and apply a better product?

Please advice and thank you for your time in answer my post.
Daniel LeBlanc

John
John
2 years ago

Anytime you use a pressure washer (like mentioned in the Deck Stripper paragraph), isn’t it necessary to sand the wood afterwards since power washing tends to raise the grain of the wood which could cause splinters if stepped on? Excuse my ignorance if this is not true and/or unclear. Thanks for answering!

John
John
2 years ago

Great! Sounds good. And what would be considered “too close with the tip” in relation to the deck board? Thank you again.

Cynthia
Cynthia
2 years ago

I used deck cleaner on the spindles and mixture of powdered oxygen bleach and dishwashing detergent to clean the deck. Sanded the spindles after cleaning.
Deck color is uneven…
Should I wash entire deck again with a deck cleaner, then use a brightener prior to staining with oil based stain?

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Hope
Hope
2 years ago

I am concerned I may not have enough RAD brightener to finish my project. The painter is starting today and I am in a panic.
What would happen if the brightener was mixed a little weaker than one container per 5 gallon water?
If I run out what would happen if brightener is not used after the cleaner on the back side of the fence? (I am not real concerned about the appearance since it is not seen by anyone…Just want to protect it with stain.)
Is there any other product that would work that I could buy locally?
I have 5lbs of oxalic acid in addition to the 2 containers of RAD brightener but don’t know anyone locally who sells it to buy more.
What ratio should it be mixed? (I have read 1.5 c per gallon of water.)
Thank you so much for your help.

geohogan
geohogan
2 years ago

What is the best approach and product(s) for restoring our dock?

JANICE FRANKLIN
JANICE FRANKLIN
2 years ago

I am confused about the use of Oxalic Acid in preparing a deck for staining. It is advertised as both a cleaner and brightener but it has been suggested I need to use Sodium Per-carbonate to clean followed by Oxalic acid to brighten. If is does both I am wondering why I need the first step. Although I did read where RAD brightener can be used as both a cleaner and brightener on redwood but to use cleaner first on pine….wondering what the difference is????
Are you familiar with the Concrobium house and deck wash and the Concrobium mold eraser as a cleaning and brightening prep for wood? Wondering how it compares to the other products. My concern is the mold eraser directions instruct you not to rinse ( I think other brighteners say to rinse) and to let it dry completely which would nullify the advantage of staining with the RAD semi transparent stain on damp wood.
Oh, one last question…what do you do to deal with all the pollen when preparing a deck? Should we just wait a few more weeks and hope it is gone?
Love your site and have learned so much from it but the more I learn the more confused I get! 😥

JANICE FRANKLIN
JANICE FRANKLIN
2 years ago

Thanks for your quick response. Just an FYI, my comment on the RAD Brightener was based on the following sentence on their website about the RAD brightener:
“The product can be used as a cleaner and brightener for redwood, or as a neutralizer to further brighten wood species, like pine, that have been cleaned with Restore-A-Deck Wood Cleaner or stripped with Restore-A-Deck Stain Stripper.”

geohogan
geohogan
2 years ago

We have two sets of outdoor steps at our house at the lake. They need to be re-stained and have an oil base stain last applied. We have sanded both sets of steps. Are the next steps…a primer…then a restore deck kit…and then stain? Do I have that right? Am I missing any steps? thx

geohogan
geohogan
2 years ago

thx… and sorry I mean’t to say “stripper” as the 1st step

geohogan
geohogan
2 years ago

After we applied the stain it looked great but we had some cold weather the next night with some snow. We noticed white streaks on the deck. Is that because the cold weather impaired the curing process? Can we apply another coat of stain when the weather is warmer or do we need to do something else to resolve? thx

geohogan
geohogan
2 years ago

Arborcoat semi-transparent

geohogan
geohogan
2 years ago

thx for your advice…

J Fuqua
J Fuqua
3 years ago

We have a new pressure treated ground contact wooden dock. It was built last October. It is in the direct sun most of the day and is located in the southern part of Alabama. What cleaner do you recommend? Do we need to use a brighter? We are totally confused about which stain and sealer to use. We
prefer a transparent stain. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

J Fuqua
J Fuqua
3 years ago

Why is it necesssary to use a brighter on new wood? One or two coats of stain?

Laura
Laura
3 years ago

I want to clean & restore a 2 yr old redwood deck fully exposed to southern sun & northern Cal rains previously treated with PreservaWood penetrating oil stain & sealer. Should I first do cleaning, then the brightening processes & does it have to dry completely in between, before new stain! And, can I change the stain product & color slightly darker ? Can you recommend products to use? I’d like to avoid sanding if possible

Eric
Eric
3 years ago

I have a deck that was stained with Penofin three years ago. It didn’t hold up very well. So this year I power washed and sanded the decking with a floor sander almost down to bare wood. It is a clear cedar deck so then I stained in with TWP 101 (cedar semi transparent stain). It turned out great! If I want to stain it again with the same product next summer, how do I prepare my deck?
Thanks

Eric J Opsvig
Eric J Opsvig
3 years ago

And then I can put another coat of TWP 101?

betty
betty
3 years ago

What would you recommend for a cedar deck that has been stained with penafin clear stain a year ago?

Denise
Denise
3 years ago

I have the cleaner and Brightener as well as the light walnut stain for my TIGER deck. (RAD)
I did the sunroom a couple of weeks ago in one day and it turned out beautiful !
Here is my question : i have a 12 x 42 deck that is also Tigerwood. There is no way i can do it all in one day. The sunroom almost killed me! How should i go about it without there being overlaps? Should i do the cleaner and Brightener one day and the stain the next after i dampen the wood or can i do the deck in 1/3’s? I just do not want it to be obvious that i stopped and started. The deck is very gray. It has never been treated in any way. Can i clean or brighten twice to get the best out of it or leave it on longer? Please advise. Thanks!!!

EJ Connor
EJ Connor
3 years ago

I have been using Flood CWF-UV penetrating wood finish for years…clear natural. The wood is looking gray. Can I use Flood cedar stain now to brighten the deck?

EJ Connor
EJ Connor
3 years ago

What products do you suggest I use to clean and brighten to achieve the best results with Flood?

T Deckert
T Deckert
3 years ago

I just built a 2 tier deck with light brown pressure treated lumber. I don’t want to stain it so what can I put on it to keep its own colour and waterproof it?

T Deckert
T Deckert
3 years ago

Thanks for your quick and informative reply. Greatly appreciated.

George X
George X
3 years ago

what is rating for Cabot Deckcorrect ??

Muskokawoolie
Muskokawoolie
3 years ago

Agree. Cabot has not held up

Walter
Walter
3 years ago

Hi. Thank you for all your helpful advice and the time you put into answering all these questions.
I recently stripped a 26×16 deck which was covered in Solid stain. It took weeks of stripping and sanding as i had limited time but, it looks great now. All old stain removed, i cleaned the deck and lightly sanded after dry to remove raised and loose fibers.
The wood is very clean but i didn’t stabilize with brighter. I would still like to do so prior to staining so, would it still be alright for me to do so 6 days later?
If so, are these the correct steps:
-Dampen the wood
-Apply the brightener.
-Let sit and Scrub..
-Finally, rinse off.

Also, I was thinking of using Restore a deck brightener and stain. What is your advice?

Thank you in advance.

Walter
Walter
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter

Forgot to attach picture…
Thanks

Deck Finish.jpg
Mary fusco
Mary fusco
3 years ago

Can you recommend any Sherwin Williams semi transparent deck stain and cleaner?

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