This post was updated on January 18, 2023
Tips on Restoring Your Deck in One Day
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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
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.
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.
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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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.