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Removing a Solid Deck Stain 4.8/5 (18)

Removing a Solid Deck Stain

Peeling Solid Deck Stain

Help With Removing a Solid Deck Stain

Once a deck has been stained with a heavy pigmented or solid stain it can be hard to maintain. Solid deck stains are like paint in that they form a film on the wood surface to provide weather protection. Once it is time for maintenance, a cleaning and recoat are necessary. After several years the solid stain begins to buildup and has trouble adhering, thus it begins to peel and flake constantly.

To stop this negative effect from occurring, or to switch from one deck stain to another, it is best to remove the solid deck stain completely and start with bare wood again. But removing a solid deck stain takes patience and a little bit of work.

To remove a solid deck stain you need to use a deck stain remover. Stain strippers contain aggressive ingredients to help break through and soften tough to remove deck stains. Once the stain begins to emulsify it can then be pressure washed off.Start by covering any nearby plants and landscaping. Put plastic and tape over windows and any areas that aren’t being stripped. Wear protective gloves and eyewear. Coat the deck with the stain remover in a uniform manner by applying it with a brush or a pump sprayer. Allow the product to remain wet on the wood for 10-15 minutes. For harder to remove solid stains longer dwell times may be necessary.

Once the solid stain begins to break loose from the wood surface, use a pressure washer at 1000-1200psi to remove the solid stain completely. A stiff scrub brush and garden hose can also be used. Reapply the stain stripper and repeat the process if stubborn areas remain. Rinse thoroughly.

After you are satisfied with the results it is important to apply a wood deck brightener. After the wood is stripped it will appear very dark in color. This is due to the caustic stripper raising the pH of the wood. This is the case with using a stain stripper or wood cleaner and is very normal. To reverse this effect, apply an even coat of deck brightener to restore the wood’s natural color and pH levels to a more neutral state. This will enhance the grain and open the wood pores for better stain penetration. Rinse thoroughly.

Allow the deck to dry for a minimum of 48 hours before applying a new deck stain. If there are still some remnants of old solid deck stain, you can remove them using a sander. Use a leaf blower or broom to blow away the sawdust. Use a rag with mineral spirits to further clean the sanded area if you are using oil based stain. Use a rag damp with water instead if you are using water based stain. Proceed with staining or sealer the wood.

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132 responses to “Removing a Solid Deck Stain”

  1. Rick Thompson says:

    I have a large cedar deck on three sides of my house surrounded by flower beds/house/patio which makes deck stain remover followed by power washing very difficult. I have been thinking of useing a large pwoer sander to remove the old stain and then washing before reapplying a new stain .What are your recommendations for a cleaner and any other preparation suggestions.

    • Rick, after the sanding you should use a cleaner and brightener systems like the Restore A Deck Kits. This will help the stain to penetrate into the wood better.

      • Rick Willson says:

        Rick, my company specializes in this type for almost 25 years. I never use a deck stripper. I have yet to see a stripper remove 100% of old stains. Usually areas in sun peel first and shady ones tend to bite longer. Its messy and caustic. You are 100% right in removing the Behr. I can't count how many jobs I procured because the Behr product failed. Several of my clients were able to be reimbursed for part of the stripping costs from Behr.

        Absolute best procedure and will give you a new deck again.

        Pressure wash deck removing any mildew or grime between board cracks on on top of deck boards. Again no chemicals.
        You will need to counter-sink decks screws or nails if they are not already. I have a large hardwood floor sander (220 volt, ones used on hardwood floors). When I first started my company I would do the counter-sinking and then sub out the sanding to a hardwood floor company. They can show up, sand a 500 sq ft deck and be gone in 4 hours. Usually under a 1$@ft. This may seem expenses especially if you have a 1000 sq ft deck, but trust me, it will be $ well spent. The sander will take off approx 1/8 of deck and the Behr stain. Your deck will be better than new with every board looking new and being plained to same height. I then use a Squar Buff (avl for rent at Home Depot) to finish sand and then I stain/seal. If you want to be absolutely by the book you can give the deck a light pressure wash or wash down after sanding (textbook says this will open up wood pores for better absorption). I agree somewhat but you are using the best deck sealer TWP. I have used just about every wood sealer out there and have always raced back to TWP.

        Lastly if you an absolute have to be a do it my self homeowner, Home Depot also rents a 110 volt 8" drum sander. This will work but just prepare for a slower process. Will look just as well in the end.

        I realize your deck is probably done by now but I thought Id give best answer for your problem. Ive now been doing decks since 1990 so Id hope I know for what I speak by now.

        Rick W

        • dave says:

          A note to fellow Behr /home depot victims
          I concur from my experience with Rick w. The material has an almost magical ability to stick to soft wood between the grain. chemical treatments, wire brushes don't work. I would add that replacement of most of the deck railing is perhaps the best option. 2x4x8 is about 3$. belt sand the 4x4s. flip the deck boards if you can.
          And Never buy a finish coating from these people.

  2. Lee NJ says:

    I have a 15 year old mohagany deck that did not appear to be properly maintained before we purchased the house 3 years ago. I stained the entire deck with Behr semi-transparent stain three years ago, and it has held up rather well, but now i have a number of boards that are rotted and I purchased new mohagany boards to replace (about 250 linear feet). After reading the reviews and issues with Behr, I decided it would be best to strip the Behr with RAD, apply RAD brightener and then stain with TWP 1500. I am not certain when I should stain the new boards, since I have been advised to let the new wood sit out for a while before staining, however, other advice is to stain all six sides of the board when installing. These are in conflict with each other. Can you advise on what I should do with the new boards, and offer any recommendatoins to my course of action?

    • Lee NJ, I would install and let it weather. There is no benefit to staining all sides prior to install with TWP

      • Lee NJ says:

        Thank you. I also have been given conflicting advice whether TWP can be used on a mahogany deck. The info I see says virtually all exterior wood but I was told elsewhere that it is not suitable for hardwoods?

        • Lee NJ, according the the manufacturer (Gemini), TWP is not designed to be used for exotic hardwoods. I have not used it personally on hardwoods so I am not sure how it will work. Exotic hardwood decking needs annual maintenance anyhow so it may work just fine.

  3. Stephan, once solid stained you will always need a stolid stain. Clean to remove dirt and grime with a good pressure washing should be enough to proceed. All solid stains peel and we are not fans of them. When we do use them we typically use the Flood brand.

  4. Irene says:

    I have an old red cedar deck I would like to rejuvenate. With the exception of a few boards the wood is still good but looks pretty beat up due to the cracks etc. What could I use to take the old semi transparent stain off the dowels? I was thinking of using a solid stain so it will fill in some of the cracks etc. Does anyone have a suggestion of a good stain that will last?
    There is a new stain out by Behr that sounds like it has a rough surface. Does anyone know anything about it? The winters here in Ontario are very severe so we need something durable.

  5. Jeri says:

    We have a cypress deck and cedar railings that have a Cabot waterbased transparent stain (1-1/2 years old) that is already wearing off. We would like to switch to an oil-based stain on both the cypress and cedar—do we first need to use a stain remover? brightener? etc?

  6. Northeaster says:

    I'm removing Behr acrylic semi-transparent stain (which basically acts like a solid stain) from pressure treated yellow pine deck (built in 1997) using HD-80, pressure washing, and sanding (with a hand-held random orbit sander). What safety precautions are needed for the HD-80 and for the pressure washing and sanding of the Behr coated, arsenic treated wood?

  7. Terry White says:

    What Stain Stripper would you recommend for removing ADM-2000 pigmented sealer (Pecan finish) from my cedar deck. The boards nearest the house are likely to be the biggest problem because they are much darker than the rest of the deck. Those boards don't get as much sunlight, and they have been exposed to excess water when the gutters get stopped up and overflow.

  8. Rochelle says:

    Does this discussion of using stain strippers also apply to removing solid stain on cedar shake on the side of a house?

  9. anna says:

    What to use to strip a water based solid stain from an ipe deck? (the stain is one of SW Deckscapes solid water-based stain)?

    • Anna, I feel bad that a solid stain was applied to IPE. Hopefully it will come off but you are dealing with an extremely dense wood. Try the HD80 to strip off what you can. It will not come all the way off though so you will need to sand. Once removed we would suggest a light cleaning to remove sand dust. Make sure to only apply one very light coat of stain to this deck.

  10. Ritch says:

    I'm in the process of stripping a !00% acrylic deck. To get it stripped I need to apply several coats of the stripper, use high water pressure and then scrape. Because I need to use strong water pressure I need to sand it afterwards. Before I re stain I'll use a brightener. My question is: can I stain it immediately after I've sanded it or do I need the wood to weather for a period to re open the pores? I've read conflicting opinions on this. Thanks.

    • Ritch, best to let the wood pores open up. Let sit for a month and then lightly clean and brighten. Only apply 1 coat of the stain this time and another light coat in a year or so.

      • Rick says:

        It is ideal to give it a few days after sanding, with my company it is not practical. The sooner you stain it the lighter tyne finish will be tho. If you using TWP you can easily apply another coat in 10-14 months after a light pressure wash. The deck will tell you when its ready for a coat because the water will no longer bead up like a coat of wax like your car. IMPORTANT, after applying the sealer (if oil base semi transparent like TWP, I ALWAYS wipe down the deck. You can wrap a thick towel around a sand pole or even a push broom (duck tape where it gathered on the handle. Make sure there is NO sealer left that has not absorbed. Remember these are penetrating sealers puddles and shine spot will ever have a positive dry and will attack dirt not to mention will make a great job look lacking.

        After finish sanding you could give it a light wet down to help open the pours. I would not wait longer than a week tho. Waiting a month, dirt, pollen, other contaminates will begin to make their way into the fresh wood cells and your finish will be affected.

    • Rick Willson says:

      You can skip all the stripping procedures and go straight to a drum sand. Countersink screws or nails first. You can rent a drum sander at home depot. Finish off with a square buff sand (also at home depot). If you have already done most of the stripping, go with the square buff in a low grit and work your way up. I seal the deck on the day i finish sanding while the wood is clean (Ive done about 2000 decks). Seal when weather is cool and ideally not in direct sunlight. Use a sponge pad to apple apply TWP. After and hour of absorption time, its best to take a towel and wipe off any excess..

  11. Mike, hard to say as it varies on the brand and the type of stain you used.

  12. msr2061 says:

    Have to hand it to you this is one of the best project based forums I have seen on the net. Polite, open yet loaded with easily digestible information. Here is my situation: pressure treated deck, appears to be coated with olympic canyon brown solid stain. Really on hard in some placed and non-existent in others. I want to take the deck back to natural wood. Do you have a stripper recommendation and/or the best method to remove this solid stain? I noted that you don't call out any solid stain strippers which given how this site works is probably not good news.

    • msr2061, strippers will not work on solid stains very well or at all. We as contractors do not bother trying to remove solid stains as it is so difficult. The only effective way to get it off is to sand. Other option is to replace the deck boards.

  13. melissa says:

    We stained our deck last year, and it is peeling already. Any ideas on why this happend and what we should do this time around.

    • Melissa, all solid stain can be prone to peeling as they lie on top of the wood. Remove 100% and choose a deep penetrating deck finish that does not film.

    • rick Willson says:

      The stain you used was film forming. It needs to be sanded off and then use a penetrating sealer like TWP (inside the wood cells not on top like a paint). A deck board had 6 sides. When you put a film forming product on the top the other five sides are still bare. When the wood breathes and expands and contracts (from moisture or hot to cold days) the top will always peel.

  14. Alan says:

    I have a treated deck about 10 years old. It only has one coat of cabot semi solid oil base stain red cedar which was applied about 6 months after it was built. I am now in the process of trying to get this deck back in shape after being neglected. I have replaced 2 or 3 boards and power washed it and most of the stain has come off, but there is still a hint of color from the old stain. I am looking at cleaning an brightening it and then using TWP 120 0r 116 deck stain. Will the stain look good or should I use a stripper instead of cleaning.

  15. MRM says:

    Acrylic "Solid Stain" is not a true STAIN! ANY Acrylic product is not suited for outdoor use- period.

    Solid Stains do not generally peel AT ALL if they are OIL BASED! Water Based "Stains" can and do peel.

    It's simple- Oil Based stains penetrate and do not flake, If you have a solid stain that is peeling it is most likely ACRYLIC Based and is not a true stain at all. Acrylic acts as a coating that doesn't let the wood breath or sink in.

    All true Oil Based Stains penetrate and let the wood breath. If an Oil based stain flakes it's because the wood hadn't cured long enough and is pushing the stain up when releasing its tannins.

    Oil Based Stains are much easier to Restore and maintain. A light sand and a recoat. They've been using NATURAL Oil Based repellents on ships for thousands of years.

    "Plastic Is EVIL"!

  16. shane collin says:

    We built brand new 750 sq. ft deck two years ago. Semi-transparent stain was applied incorrectly, so professional painter had to use solid stain. We used pressure treated pine for the decking. The stain is starting to peel a little bit, and the wood is opening up. Last weekend we cleaned with Olympic Deck Cleaner and it did a good job removing all of the mold that had accumulated. We live on the Georgia/Florida line.

    My question is, what do I need to do from here to properly seal/stain the deck? What products should I use? HELP PLEASE!!

  17. shane_collin says:

    We built brand new 750 sq. ft deck two years ago. Semi-transparent stain was applied incorrectly, so professional painter had to use solid stain. We used pressure treated pine for the decking. The stain is starting to peel a little bit, and the wood is opening up. Last weekend we cleaned with Olympic Deck Cleaner and it did a good job removing all of the mold that had accumulated as well as flaking off some more of the solid stain. We live on the Georgia/Florida line.

    My question is, what do you advise that I do from here? After reading through this forum, it seems that I should apply a stripper? I will have to check whether my solid stain was acrylic based or not. We bought the stain from Sherwin Williams here in town and they are considered the experts on paint here. I would be surprised if they suggested a stain that was not oil based.

    I was going to use the Behr Deck-over product. However, after reading your forum in regards to the product and it's cousins, NO SIR!!

    If I need to apply stripper, should I use a power washer to wash off? I have heard that power washing is a NO NO for a deck. What type of stain should I re-seal/stain with? HELP PLEASE!!

    • Shane, at this point you will have to strip numerous tines and sand some to remove 100% if you want to get the wood looking natural again. Other option is to apply another solid stain. Oil based solids will work better than water based solids. Look at this option as well. It would allow you paint the verticals and leave the floor natural. Easier for you:

      • gina says:

        sorry to jump in on this converstation…but my deck has either had a semi transparent stain or sold stain applied, I don't remember which! Problem is, it is pealing badly and the wood looks old and tired. You mentioned above that if it is solid stain (and how do I know??), that it needs to be 100% removed OR apply another solid stain.. my question is, IF we need to go with the solid stain route (again, how do I know for sure?), then what prep work would you suggest prior to applying the stain AND what stain would you recommend?

        • You cannot see through a solid stain while a semi-trans you can. If using a solid again you want to strip off as much as possible first so the new solid will work. We like Flood Solid Stains for our deck customers.

        • Rick Willson says:

          Sorry, I just saw this. If its peeling badly its most likely a solid stain. Solid are more like paint. They create a file on top of the wood, all other sides of the deck board are still porous, moisture tries to escape out the top and there goes the finish. I don't hunk there is a solid stain made that if exposed to 8-12 hours of hot sun a day that will not fail. A stripper can be used when removing semi-transparent (meaning you can still see some of the wood grain). I don't use strippers as they are inferior to good old fashion sanding and the finish is ten fold better. You can send me pictures of your deck and I will evaluate the best possible route for you. Several people from the US and now Canada have taken me up on my offer. Ive done over 2,000 decks.
          Shoot me a text when you email so I can be sure it didn't go in the junk bin,…

          Best of luck,
          Rick Willson
          Willson Deck Restoration and Construction Calif contractor #596039

          408 309-2811

      • Rick Willson says:

        Drum sanding (same sander used on hardwood floors) the deck will remove all the old stain and give the wood a good as new look. Use TWP this time. Future recoats are a breeze…

  18. David says:

    We have a 40 x 20' deck built from cedar-coloured pressure treated lumber. It was beautiful for about 4 years, and then, because the colour was lightening up (despite annual sealing), last year we used a solid colour stain. (I can't remember the brand, but it was from Home Depot). After a particularly cold and snowy winter, it has started to peel rather dramatically. So we've decided to follow your advice, strip it down and start over with a penetrating stain. We're planning to pressure wash it, and then sand it before using stripper. Would that order make sense? Also, none of your highest rated stains seem to be available here in Toronto, Canada. Any recommendations?

    • David, not sure what you can get in Toronto but there have been numerous posters who have been using the Armstrong Clark in Toronto. Removing a solid is very hard. Sand, strip and repeat until gone.

    • Fergus Elliott says:

      David I also live in Toronto On. The highest rated stain avail in can is the Flood. It's #3 on this sites list. Its avail @ all Dulux stores. It stains your deck…it doesn't sit on top with a sheen. After 41 yrs of my work being on Cityline /Style & Home mag/(yr 2000)and the 1996 benMoore Ext Colours brochure…I am obsessed with the right deck stain product( labour is the same to apply). I was encouraged by to be their deck stain Co after they realized my obsession with perfection due to my Cityline exposure. . I must say that venturing into the work of deck Staining 4 yrs ago has been a very new exp for us. I never realized their were so many highly marketed stain products for Decks …that were actually of very low quality and lacking endurance. Flood NEVER PEELS .If you only want advice and to view Cedar sample boards with Flood stain appied …my cost is $200 for one hr. if you decide to committ to my est for your project the initial meeting/consultation cost is dismissed..Irregardless…use Flood…you can't go wrong with Flood……it's an amazing stain. !!!!!

      • rick says:

        Have you done side by side testing with TWP? I realize Flood may have reformulated their deck sealers. 15 years ago it was not a great product. I would like to see current comparisons. After 6 months, a year, two years. Can you easily recoat over the Flood product? Meaning it is not film forming?

        Is flood a water emulsified product? Ive found in the past 25 years there hasn't been a waterborne product that can compete with an properly formulated oil base finish. When TWP was not avl for two years I used a two coat waterborne product Timber Tek. Two separate coats on two separate days. It did not hold up near as well as one coat of TWP. Not to mention was not cost affective…

        Willson Deck Restoration and Construction
        Calif contractor lic #596039

  19. AZ NJ says:

    We have just removed the solid stain from our deck but aren't sure how to effectively remove it from in between the boards. Any advice on that?

    • No easy way for this.

      • EricS says:

        Im in the same position. Im removing a Behr solid was over entire deck and pergola from a previous home owner (Sanding that pergola was a huge pain) but all that is left is the paint in between the floor board ridges. Can you give any tips or tools to get in the gaps, even if it isn't easy?

        • Nothing that we have tried has worked very well with this. Try scraping.

          • Jon says:

            Try a 3M automotive stripping disc. It is a 1" thick by 5" diameter disc of abrasive embedded in a plastic mesh. It mounts in a drill. It will strip the radiused portion of the board, but not all the way down in the groove. $8 in the Walmart automotive section. Get a couple/few- they don't last all that long.

          • rick says:

            Don't worry if the old stain is a dark color unless of course its peeling. I had a large deck that had a light gray solid stain I sanded off. Before sanding I loaded my paint sprayer and shot a dark brown color in between each deck board. This will give a shadow effect and any paint that get on the deck will sand right off when you drum.

  20. Rick says:

    As long as the solid stain is similar in color Ie brown/ natural tone I would not worry about it. It will blend in. One client HAD to have coating between boards removed. I ended up using a skill saw and shaving off the edges. I DO NOT recommend this 4 a homeowner.
    I didn't see but have you tried deck stripper? Apply allow to sit, agitate, and pressure wash. Now mind you if the rest of the deck is already sanded this stripper will turn the raw wood black and you will need to use a conditioner to brighten.
    Lastly I had one deck where is was stained with grey color. I knew since we were now sealing with a semi-transparent natural tone, the grey between the boards will be pronounce and unsatisfactory finish. Before I drum sanded the deck, I used my airless to shoot a coat of a dark self priming paint in between the boards. After I drummed the deck and sealed it blended right end. Always use a dark paint, it also gives you a shadow look.

    Willson Deck Restoration and Construction

  21. Pam says:

    I have an old deck with mixed stain types (mostly solid/semi-transparent) and wood of various type and age. You advised me to remove the old stain and replace with TWP 100 series. I hoped to remove the old stain by sanding rather than using stripper because of the mess that would result below the deck, which is on the second story of the house. I sanded once using 60-grit followed by RAD cleaner. I didn't get all of the stain up after the first round of sanding, but did remove the loose and peeling stain. After using the cleaner additional stain was peeling, so I sanded again, rinsed well and then used the RAD brightener. There seems to be some additional stain peeling. Can you please tell me what to do? The deck is so old, we anticipate having to replace it in 4-5 years and simply want to extend its life for that long–not going for perfect appearance. Thank you for your help!

    • Pam, you have to keep sanding until all of the old stain is off or restain with another solid color stain.

      • Pam says:

        Got it. I will keep sanding. 🙂

        • Rick Willson says:

          Use a drum sander. Home depot rents them. Be sure to watch the instruction videos. It will 100% remove all the old stain and the deck will look brand new. Ive been refinishing decks for over 25 years and over 2000 projects. I have seen it all. I have a more in-depth answer to this above if you have further questions. You do not need to use the RAD brightener (I never have except the rare times I used a stripper). The wood will look its best just from the sanding. You can actually start to bleach out your wood with too much washing. Im not sure if your using a square buff or a drum sander? Feel free to email me and send me pictures of your deck. I promise to resolve the problem as best possible.

          Rick Willson

  22. Fergus Elliott says:

    Hi Rick: i am 41 yrs a perfectionist painter. My Int & ext work has been on TV /Style & Home mag/ ben moore brochure and all that nonsense that has no impact on outcome (or income)when it comes to decks. I'm doing deck staining /restaining only 4 yrs now ……and they are a beast all their own. My product of choice after 4 yrs of Behr and ben moore peeling within months is Flood. my question todayis re sanding . since I'm obsessed with it ,even though clients don't understand the great value in it.
    I own a square sander (not efficient on old decks)…have used a circular "stand up sander" but @4000 rpm's ,its like convincing a lion to let me apply makeup….so far a struggle. You stated a drum sander first. I used to grind Terrazo floors. First aggresive stones…then medium stones then polishing stones. With ur 25 yrs of Deck exp would you rercommend a Drum sander ,then a circular sander bout 80 grit ,then a square sander bout 80 grit? So do YOU aggressivly sand the deck boards with the grain …or cross grain? I would think "cross grain" would tear the boards down to level much quicker. I also have an issue with the correct price to sand a deck down. Just not sure whats fair. And profitable. You and I know most people offering Deck staining work are students and unproffesional low quality tradesmen. I'm only 4 yrs into decks ..and the sanding is my biggest angst. Any tips on how to minimize the sanding time. edging sanders, orbital,drum,square etc. Do you have a recommended daily rate for ANY sanding by one man for e.g.

    • Rick Willson says:

      Sorry for the delay Fergus, I just saw this.
      I use the drum with the grain of the wood. A few times I have done a 45 degree sand first if the deck is in really poor condition (old and uneven with a lot of old stain/sealer on it). Followed by with the grain.I would only do this after you have extensive time on the drum sander tho. 98% of the time stay with the grain. A 220 volt sander is always best but they are heavy and expensive (6-8k new)… The Home Depot 110 volt will get you the same results just will take a lot longer. I will definitely use the square buff after the drum sanding. The circular floor machine sand paper will catch on board gaps often and can leave even more swirl marks. If i drum with say 36 grit, I will square buff with 60 and then finish with 100 grit.. This will leave the deck better than new because you have now plained the deck boards even also.

      Its sounds like you are perfectionist which is the only way to be in my book. Constantly outperforming my customers expectations is always my goal.

      As far as college kids go, if a client is willing to go for a low ball bid and risk their expensive deck's welfare, thats not a client you want to work for. You want someone that appreciates quality and knows your adding value to their home. Pricing depends of course current condition and size of a deck. I did a bid yesterday, 660 sq ft. It has old stain on it that has built up solid in areas. For the bid to- pressure wash to remove to debris between deck boards and surface dirt, countersink screws or nails, drum sand after drying, square buff finish sand, and then seal (with 9" deck sponge pad) with TWP. I charged $2.15 a square foot.

      You may have tried to email me at, its possible it went into a junk folder.
      Here is my cell 408 309-2811…. That way you can give me a heads up when you email. I have pictures and some drum videos I made I think I could send you.

      Keep up the good work, the housing market is in full recovery and thus home improvement and deck refinishing.


  23. Jon says:

    Need stripping advice. For my deck job, not me. The deck had layers of heavy, it was rolled on, transparent stain or maybe CWF on old, heavily cracked southern yellow pine. The deck is adjacent to the ocean with full sun all day and the UV just pounds it. I used Defy stripper and brightener first, but still had major sanding to do with my random orbital and 100 grit. Tried 80 but it just danced on top of the pine's hard grain. Anyhow- I blew the dust off and out of the myriad cracks frequently so dew and rain wouldn't turn it to paste. Well, yesterday I was sanding away when the heavens opened up and ended my work day early. For the first time I saw all my prep work wet, and I saw far more water beading and color variation than expected. It appears that the soft grain, despite being well sanded, still has something in it that is repelling water and making the wood look much lighter in color than the water absorbing hard grain. WILL RETREATING THE DECK WITH STRIPPER AND BRIGHTENER PULL THE MYSTERY SUBSTANCE OUT OF THE WOOD? Thanks!

    • That is old stain still left in the grain that is not coming out. Wet water test always shows when you are not getting it all out. Not sure if the stripper will work but it would not hurt to try.

    • Rick Willson says:

      Drum sand. See my above advice. You will be ecstatic with the results…

  24. markinky says:

    I have a solid stain on my deck that has only been on for 2 yrs. It has seriously peeled & weathered on the floor and rail tops but the spindles are in good shape. Should I strip, brighten, then sand. Or would it be better to strip, sand, and then brighten before applying the stain? Also, if the old stain was dark in color (reddish-brown), would I still be able to use a semi-transparent sealant rather than the darker stain? thx

    • markinky says:

      how long does it take usually for comment to be approved & posted?

    • Strip as much as you can with the Restore A Deck Stripper and pressure washing, sand off the rest, brighten when done. Once removed you can use any color. If you have railings it can be very difficult to sand so it might be time to consider a two toned deck:

    • Rck says:

      Drum sand your deck. No strippers and brighteners needed. I wish I could post pictures of decks I have done this process to at least 300 times (25 years doing deck restoration). If you or anyone else would like to email me I can better explain the process and even send you some videos of me drum sanding. Your deck will be literally brand new, No old stain will be left even if it was solid black. Use and orbital or better a belt sander for the top rail. As far as the spindles, if they are just 2×2's, I would just pop them off and install new ones. Its quick and easy and the new 2×2's will look identical to your now new deck.. Best of luck,
      Rick Willson
      Willson Deck Restoration & Construction

      • Jon says:

        Do you counter sink/recess the screws/nails before sanding down to fresh wood? My yellow pine deck was poorly built long ago and most of the screw heads are proud. I replaced some and drove some deeper if I could, but many just broke or would not move. Some in high traffic areas I ground the heads off to make them flush. They all are rusting due to the galvanizing being sanded off or worn off. I don't believe using a drum sander would have been an option for me. What do you think?
        Jon in RI

        • rick says:

          Jon, I ran into this problem all the time. Even when doing a newer deck there is always a couple screws that go awry. The good news, you can countersink. The bad its not an easy process but you can do it. You will very happy in the end because your deck will look ten times better. I use a mini mallet and a huge nail set. Shoot me an email and pictures of your deck. Ill be happy to show the tools and assist you in.

          Also the failing rusty screws will be a much lesser issue, they will be below surface height and when you seal, soak the sealer into the recessed area created from countersinking. This will seal them off well. You only need to countersink about 1/8 to 1/4.

          ALWAYS wipe down deck after sealing it with a product like TWP penetrating sealer. Extra left on top of the boards will puddle, never have a positive dry, and attract dirt.

          Willson Deck Restoration and Construction

          408 309-2811

      • tim says:

        the mahogany floor on my front porch has not been refinished in 7 years when it was initially installed. first i used dish soap and water to clean off the mildew then i used a sodium percarbonate cleaner (thompsons oxy foaming action exterior outdoor multi surface cleaner). the result is some small areas of bare wood and larger areas of an orange hue. i assume thats the initial treatment. what do i use to remove the treatment. i have no idea what was used for the original treatment. i intend to use an oil finish when done. will light sanding be sufficient?

      • Rosalie says:

        My husband and I have a similar situation with a solid stain deck. Using a chemical stripper sounds like a difficult and messy process. We would appreciate any information you can send about sanding. Thank you!

      • Lauren says:

        Hi! Our deck is peeling…started off power washing it 1200psi then started scraping…every time it rained more would lift. I can't use a chemical stripper because we have dogs that play in this area. so sanding seems like the way to go. Thank you! Lauren

      • rebecca cerney says:

        Hi Rck:
        I am very interested in learning more about how you restore your decks. I have a very large deck that I have been staining with solid deck stain for as long as Ive had it (14 years). The flooring is gray and the railings and step risers are white. I always re-do it about every 3 years (alternating the white one season and gray the next). It is peeling a lot (as usual). I can't imagine having to strip the whole deck. I usually end up on my hands and knees hand sanding it. When I have tried pressure washing it I always end up just making more of it peel off and having to hand brush and sand it anyway. I've always thought that surely it could be sanded with some kind of machine. I would love to find an easier method. Please contact me. Thanks, Rebecca

      • Cathie says:

        Hi Rick
        I would be very interested in the process / video drum sand the deck. We had stain on the deck 2 years ago and already peeling.
        Thank you

      • amlan says:

        Hi Rick,
        Not sure if you get this email. But I have the same issue. I have used other than sanding. Appreciate your inputs.

      • Brenda says:

        Hello Mr. Wilson,
        I would be very interested in your information. How do I contact you?

        Thank you,

      • Robert Escobar says:

        Mr. Wilson,

        If you wouldn't mind sharing, I would love to see some of your videos for removing solid color stains…

        Thank you,

        • Patti D'Alessio says:

          I would be very interested in any video you have with regard to the drum sanding without stripper to restore our peeling deck stain.

      • riverroadrat says:

        please send info to my email. deck is a mess, very interested in your process

      • Bill says:

        If I go with a belt sander what grit do you recommend? Also my apron is cedar with rough side out and is not peeling

        I tried power washing last summer and nothing. Sanding will remove the rough side. My railings are cedar logs.

        I forgot to mention I used a solid stain and would like to change to semi transparent. Any help appreciated.

        Thanks, Bill

      • Kelly Demello says:

        I'm interested in sanding my deck please send info on how to do.
        Thank You

      • Ian Lewis says:

        Hi rick, I live in Canada, I have a pressure treated deck, I used Deckover which is pealing off, but the rest of deckover is very hard to get off, could I powerwash off, and what do you recommend I stain with…..Thanks looking forward to hearing from you…….Ian Lewis

        • Unfortunately you cannot apply anything over the Deck Over and have it work properly. The Deck over will continue to peel underneath. Strippers will not remove this. Sanding will be needed or scraping.

  25. L B says:

    Need to strip solid stain off a deck/walkway only 3 feet wide and steps. What would be my best option?

  26. Edward says:

    My deck is 25 yrs old, pressure treated pine, structurally sound, previously sealed with Olympic semi-transparent, Behr semi before that & clear several times before that. I have cleaned with Olympic premium cleaner. 80% of the old sealer remains on the uppers, the flats are all 30% or less, much of it down to the bare wood. I now plan to strip but am concerned about getting the uppers completely stain free.. I am thinking about just stripping and staining the flats in natural, then doing the uppers in a contrasting solid. If I go this way, should I paint or use solid stain on the uppers and in what order should I do the flats and the uppers. If I painted the uppers over the semi-transparent, do I need to prime before painting?,

  27. rjohns10 says:

    I just used Restore A Deck stripper on my deck and it didn't remove the old solid stain that is badly peeling. Are there any other chemical products I can use to remove solid stain or am I stuck sanding it off?

  28. Erin says:

    We recently had a deck stained for the first time. The contractors did no prep work beforehand and sprayed multiple layers of Sherwin-Williams semi-transparent oil stain on our deck top, underneath, and stairs.

    The deck is not even, missing stain in places, and the majority of it is very sticky and unusable. The spindles were not properly stained and some have layers of stain and some not any at all.

    We would like the deck to be redone properly, with all the proper prep work and proper procedures for applying stain. An approximate calculation of the size of the deck would be 400 sq feet. However, no one will touch it and we are afraid to let the original contractor try and fix it. What steps need to be taken to fix our deck and does anyone know someone in North Georgia that might be up for the job.

    • Sorry Erin but even us as contractors would not attempt to fix this. I feel bad for you but you do have a mess to fix and stripping will not get it off. Sanding is most likely the only way to get this completely removed and finding someone to do this will be very hard. Might want to consider a two toned deck now. Solid color for the verticals and semi-transparent for the floors. It is much easier to remove their mistake from a floor. Strip what you can from the floor and sand the rest off. Find a solid color you like for the verticals and stain the horizontals with TWP. While this is a pain to do now, future maintenance will be much easier as you will just need to maintain the floor. See this article:

  29. Daniel Compton says:

    We just came home from holiday and saw that our landlord has put a semi transparent green stain on our deck. It was unfinished before. We really dislike the colour and want to remove it. The can says that it is semitransparent oil based but it looks like they've used so much that you can't see the wood grain anymore. The paint was still a little wet when we got home so it is very fresh.

    What is the best way to remove this deck stain? After its removed we want to put a transparent oil stain finish on.

  30. Michelle N. says:

    I like the idea of using a sander to remove old acrylic solid stain, but what do you recommend as the best way to do this for steps. I don't think a drum sander would work too well.

  31. Tom Voight says:

    Have a cedar gazebo and want to know of a good stain remover that works well on vertical surfaces and is there a remover that won't hurt plants? Thanks

  32. mlwilcoxw says:

    Two summers ago we applied Rustoleum Restore to our deck. It barely lasted a year before it started to peel. This year we are removing it and the majority of it we were able to remove with an ice scraper. We have some spots that the Restore actually stuck to the deck boards. What do you suggest we do to finish removing this stuff and prepping the deck to use TWP?

    • You will have to sand it off.

      • mlwilcoxx says:

        Do you have any suggestions as to how to get it out of the cracks? We are trying to us a putty knife but not going well.

        • There is not an easy way to do this. Try a stripper and pressure wash it out of the cracks.

          • mlwilcoxx says:

            I just had to post our solution to help others with the same issue. We used a Rockwell Sonic Crafter with tile remover tip to remove the Restore between the deck boards. It worked great. The only issue was the battery life. I'll take having to wait on the battery to charge over picking it out with a putty knife any day. We previously tried using a power washer and that did not work.

  33. Jennifer Schnore says:

    Today we started stripping our deck using Restore A Deck Stripper. The horizontal part of our deck is very worn with little to none of the previous stain remaining, but the vertical slats do not have a lot of wear at all. These still bead water when wet. We mixed 3/4 cup of the stripper powder with one gallon of warm water and applied to a small area (including horizontal and vertical areas) with a sprayer. After about 30 minutes we power washed. It took over TWO hours of power washing this small area and still not all of the stain is off. Even worse, it is "gunky" and not smooth and not looking good. We could not put our Armstrong Semi-Solid stain on it, even after brightening, b/c it would be bumpy. Plus, this is a very small area (just a few square feet including vertical slats and horizontal floor boards) and our deck is nearly 1000 square feet! At this rate, it will take us days and days just to strip it. That is several weekends (we have jobs during the week) – probably about a month total to just strip it!!! Then we will brighten and then we will stain. We have guests coming in 6 weeks and, with perfect weather, I'm not sure we can get the deck done by then because of this stripping issue. We are young-ish and in good physical shape and do nearly all of our home (and car) projects ourselves but we've honestly never encountered such a disaster. Any advice? Any other better brands to use? What are we doing wrong???? Help!! and thanks!!!!

    • Jennifer, there is no stripper that will easily remove a solid stain. It takes a lot of work and repeat applications to get a solid stain off completlely. RAD Stripper says right on their website that it will not remove a solid stain. I would concentrate on the floors now. Strip off as much as you can but you will probably need to sand with a power sander as well. You may need to consider doing a two toned deck as well as the verticals will be even harder to remove:

  34. Jeff says:

    I recently stripped my deck with Behr Stripper and a power washer and roughly 90% of the stain came off. The Deck is Mahogany and it had a solid stain on it (previous owners did this). Should I try stripping it again with a stronger product or go straight to a Drum Sander? The deck also appears very dark/dull. I assume a brightener or cleaner needs to be applied also to neutralize the stripper? Thanks!

    • I would go to the sander. Yes clean and brighten after the sanding.

      • Rick says:

        STraight to the drum, skip the stripper and brightener ENTIRELY. Seal the deck right after the sanding. Ive done this process about 2000 times in the past 25 years…feel free to contact me for further advice. Ive helped over 20 people in the US in the past few years..

        Rick Willson
        Willson Deck Restoration and Construction

  35. Patrick says:

    We selected a Thompson Water Seal transparent acorn brown when re-sealing a deck after spray washing. The person hired to do the job used semi-transparent instead which is redder in color. The job is 90% completed, halted due to a summer thunderstorm. What are our options now to get the color we selected?

  36. Jonny says:

    My deck consists of an older section and a newer section. The previous owner added on to it. I already washed the entire deck and the new section looks great and ready for stain, however the old section is still holding the existing stain the in the wood. I tried stripping and power washing the old section and the stain is still visible. The stain on the wood is Pittsburgh Ultra Advance Hold Gold Waterproofing Sealant Toner Stain. I want to apply Cabot's Australian Timber Oil semi-trans. Would there be a problem if I put the new stain over the existing stain? I understand that its best to clean the wood as best as possible but would the new stain adhere to some of the areas with the existing stain? Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hard to say as it is more of a question for Cabot if their product will work over the Pittsburgh. More then likely it will have an issue.

    • rick says:

      You need to drum the older section.This will also bring the two decks closer to looking the same. You could even use a slightly less pigmented seler on the older section (it will stain darker) see my above post. Feel free to contact me ive been in the field restoring decks for over 25 years in Calif

  37. Greg says:

    Trying to remove Behr solid stain from floor of deck. Is peeled in places, worn in others, and still quite in tact in other places. I've applied HD-80 as directed and rinsed with pressure washer. Did not do much good. Have tried sanding with random orbit with 60 grit. Doesn't remove stain. Have tried with belt sander with 40 grit. Will eventually work after many passes but very tedious.
    – Question: Is there a better or easier way to sand? Am now willing to rent a sander. But what type? What is the best way to sand off stubborn stain? (I've also tried a rented pad sander with about 30 grit but that would not remove the stain very well).

  38. Kenny Sinclair says:

    I just stained my deck with twp 100 (prairie gray -a nearly solid deck stain) but am not pleased with the color. Is there any way to strip this? is it more difficult or easier to strip a newly stained deck?

    • Kenny, it can be very difficult to strip a newly applied stain. We would rather leave it through the Winter to weather then attempt to strip it then. It will come off after a few applications of the stripper and pressure washing.

      • Kenny says:

        I got impatient because I couldnt stand to look at the pink color that it resembled, so I sanded it with a palm sander. It came off fairly easily with the sander, sweat, and tears. I would say that there is about 20% of the stain remaining in the grooves of the wood grain. Would this make it any easier to strip? If I used the RAD stripper/brightener with a pump sprayer and pressure washer, what are my chances here? OR do you think I should just wait until next spring to strip/brighten and then stain? My only concern is that I now essentially sanded off the pressure treated layer and now my deck will have no protection for the upcoming winter in OH.

  39. Brenda Herubin says:

    Three years ago my pressure treated deck was cleaned and treated with Rymer stain, I hate the color, but it is now worn and I would like to redo the process. I cleaned it with the pressure washer and deck cleaner. There is still lots of Rymer stain adhering to the deck. Can I remove most of that with stain remover? Followed by possible sanding and then apply a wood brightner? If I would like the wood to look more natural, what product do you recommend. I would prefer not to have a dark color, but a lighter, natural looking deck.

  40. Debbie Mathosian says:

    I am somewhat confused. You have this whole article on how to remove solid deck stain using Restore-a-Deck Stripper yet on the page when you go to order the stripper from it states will not remove solid deck stain or paint???

    • They do not guarantee it as it is not always a given that a solid stain will come off. It will remove some, a lot or possibly even all. Problem is that all solid stains are different. The only real, 100% positive way to remove a solid stain is to sand it all off.

  41. robert says:

    I'm in getting ready to refinish my deck, it was last done with a solid and I'm up for the challenge of removing it from the base and the railing, however I'm worried about the process for removing it from the spindles. My deck is about 10 X 40 so I'm a little intimidated by the amount of labor for that part of the project. Should the stripper not work is my only recourse to sand each and every one of the spindles.

  42. Sloan says:

    I have a ugly red deck stain that I want gone
    The painter said its impossible to get the red off in the cracks of the planks
    Is that possible ?
    There must be a way
    Any advise ?

  43. Beau says:

    i used the Behr Deck Over stain in my deck over a year ago. It is now peeling away and i can not get the rest of the stain off. I tried the Behr stain remover and finisher with no avail. What can i use? Most products i have read about are for semi-transparent stain. Any ideas?

  44. Alvin says:

    Hello everyone,
    This is the situation, we did a deck for a client we replaced all damaged red wood pieces and prep the rest so the client said he wanted a Red wood 330 solid color when he saw the results he didn't like it he said he meant semitransparent red wood 330 color , what should or I can do now?

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*This is first and foremost a help site from our experience as wood restoration contractors. All stain and prepping manufacturer directions were followed with our reviews and ratings. We offer no guarantee of similar results. Take in consideration that wood and deck stain results may differ due to prepping procedures, different wood types, exposure to UV radiation, natural weathering, etc.