What is a Deck Brightener and Why Use One 4.9/5 (34)

This post was updated on April 5, 2022

Why Use a Deck Brightener

We appreciate your input here at Deckstainhelp.com as we continue to be your go-to source for the latest in deck restoration news and trending topics through 2022. See below for an article about Step 2 of the deck stain process, using a brightener, and why it is a key component to the deck stain project. Feel free to leave a comment below.


Woodcare and maintenance are the keys to having a long-lasting deck. Every year or two a deck should be cleaned and stained to protect the wood from the harsh elements. UV rays and unwanted moisture can wreak havoc on a deck that is unprotected. The number one reason a deck stain fails is due to the lack of proper wood preparation. Any exterior wood surface needs to be cleaned and prepped correctly in order for the stain to perform as expected. Failure to do so can lead to premature stain failure jeopardizing the wood’s integrity.

To properly clean and prep a deck it starts with a wood cleaner. A sodium percarbonate-based oxygenated cleaner is recommended. This type of wood cleaner has been proven to work the best in removing dirt, mold, mildew, wood graying, and in some cases an old failing sealer. It is highly important to remove all of these pollutants in order for the new stain to penetrate properly.

Most oxygenated cleaners have surfactants that help boost the overall effectiveness of the detergent. These caustic detergents do a great job of loosening pollutants but in turn, they also raise the pH level of the wood. Why does this matter? The deck stain will penetrate better in acidic conditions and when the wood pores are opened up ready to receive a coat of new stain. A lower pH also darkens the wood not allowing the true beauty of the wood to show a simple fix to this is to use a deck brightener.

Wood deck brightener, also called deck neutralizer, is an acid-based product that simply neutralizes the caustic cleaners and helps lower the pH level making the wood more acidic. This opens up the wood pores and brightens the wood bringing out the grain’s natural beauty. A simple application of deck brightener after cleaning is all that is needed to brighten and neutralize the cleaners and will complete the proper prep work needed for an outstanding stain finish that will last.

How To Brighten A Deck Video – DeckStainHelp.com

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Nathan
Nathan
2 days ago

I have a deck with composite decking for the surface and redwood for the railing. I have a cleaner that’s designed for composite decking and natural wood decking. My question is if I use a brightener on the redwood will it have a negative affect on the composite decking?

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

Have defy deck stain on my deck. It needs a maintenance coat. Will just a washing with dawn dish detergent be enough or should I use a wood cleaner and brightner. Thanks!!

Chris
Chris
3 months ago

Do you mind if I add this article to the FAQ section of my website? I have a deck and fence staining company out of Georgia. Will post a link to this article and credit you of course.

Dawn
Dawn
3 months ago

This is my first deck. I was told by my contractor to use Behr penetrating oil. I’ve cleaned and treated it every other year. After only 6 years some of the wood is twisting or splitting. An associate at the lumber store said that the newer pressure treated lumber is not as good as the old green stuff, and that what I’m seeing is to be expected. Really?
I don’t see any comments about this oil. Should I switch to another product? Im not lazy, but I’m not young any more, and on my own. So looking for low maintenance.
If anyone has a suggestion I’d appreciate it. Thanks.

Michael
Michael
9 months ago

Hi,

My wife and I moved into a new house. The previous homeowners used Cabot solid stain and appeared to have put a fresh coat in the last few months prior to the sale. Everything seemed fine until the last snow of the Spring melted off and we found that the solid stain was coming up in strips.

I wasn’t planning on having to redo the entire deck but I felt I had little choice at that point. I decided that despite the fact that the deck is older, I didn’t want to have to deal with the solid stain anymore, so I started sanding with an orbital. I didn’t realize how long it would take doing it by myself. What felt like a project that would take a month has turned into a two and a half month sanding job due to the larger than normal amount of rainfall our area has had this Summer.

I’m nearly done but much of what i already sanded has turned grey due to sun exposure and there is some dark mold/mildew. Do I have to turn around and re-sand the deck again to expose fresh wood or will using the Defy cleaner and then brightener be fine? I’m using the Defy semi-transparent stain once the prep work is fully done.

Thank you for any help you can give me.

John Iglar
John Iglar
9 months ago

Hi,

I have a cedar fence that I’m stripping in stages over several days with – is it ok to use your brightener product prior to staining but after all the stripping is done?

Thanks

John Iglar
John Iglar
9 months ago

Thank you

Connie
Connie
10 months ago

Advised to use a deck brightener with oxalic acid on my Trex deck. Which deck brightener would you recommend?

Deborah
Deborah
10 months ago

Hello, I had new cedar decks put in about a year ago and am just now having them stained. My contractor used a cleaner with a pressure washer then a brightener. After a couple days if drying he applied the stain. Bow there are light areas around the knots in the wood where it looks like the stain didn’t penatrate. What should I do?

Deborah
Deborah
10 months ago

Oh good. Thanks!

Roger
Roger
11 months ago

Our front porch railing was built last September, 2020 of new pressure-treated pine lumber. On July 1, 2021 we used the Restore-A-Deck Cleaner and Brightener, which highlighted some unsightly printing. So we sanded that out lightly with 60-grit sandpaper. Can we just rinse off the area thoroughly, then proceed with staining (TWP 101 Cedartone) after two dry days? Some comments seem to indicate this, while others seem to suggest that the Brightener should be used again over the whole project, to improve stain penetration. (Am I right in assuming I wouldn’t need to use the Cleaner again after my spot-sanding?) Thank you so much!

Greg Tharp
Greg Tharp
11 months ago

We are about to stain our brand new barn that was completed early October 2020. The exterior siding is rough cut pine board and batten.
It has started to gray slightly. We are using Armstrong Clark semi transparent Natural Oak stain. We are going to lightly pressure wash it. Should we use restore a deck wash or maybe brightner to properly prep the rough cut pine prior to applying the stain?
Thank You for your Assistance,
Greg

Greg Tharp
Greg Tharp
11 months ago

Thank you for your response.
Can the wash and brightner be applied through a pressure washer?

Bryan
Bryan
1 year ago

Would deck brightener damage the paint on the side of the house if it were to splatter?

Ashok
Ashok
1 year ago

Hello – We plan to sand the deck before staining it. I will be cleaning the deck a week prior to sanding and staining.

1) Should I use a chemical cleaner? If so, should I use the brightener right away?
2) When I sand next week, should I use a brightener right after? How long do I need to wait after brightener before I can stain?

Thank you for your help!

Ashok
Ashok
1 year ago

Great, thank you for your quick reply!

Susan Eaton
Susan Eaton
1 year ago

My husband rebuilt our deck last August. We used pressure treated pine boards. Now we want to finish the project. We will use Defy exterior deck products.My questions are as follows: 1. Can the wood cleaner and brightener be applied on the same day? Does the wood need to dry after the cleaner before the brightener? 2. Do you recommend pressure washer or broom /brush for cleaning ? 3.is it better to use stain pad or paint brush for applying the stain? 4. How many coats will it need as it is less than a year since built? Thank you your help. Your site has been very helpful Sue

Octavia W
Octavia W
1 year ago

What kind of safety gear is required to use deckwise brightener (and cleaner). Is it harmful if it touches the skin and eyes, inhaled?

Octavia W
Octavia W
1 year ago

Thank you! It’s Deckwise Brightner (and also Cleaner)

Octavia W
Octavia W
1 year ago

Is it necessary to wear a VOC mask? Thanks in advance!

Randy Giltz
Randy Giltz
1 year ago

Hello,

How long can I wait to apply the brightener after stripping?

Thank you in advance….

Randy Giltz
Randy Giltz
1 year ago

How long can I wait to apply stain after stripping and applying the brightener?

Chris
Chris
1 year ago

Im repairing a pressure treated deck on a house i recently bought. Two or three boards need replacing and a few were already replaced recently but those that are solid are quite weathered. I plan to apply a semi-transparent stain in the end. Would a brightener help even out the color between the new and old wood before staining? How long should i wait to stain after replacing the boards?

Jule
Jule
1 year ago

I have an older pressure-treated deck. Last summer, I did the following:
-applied a chemical deck stripper to remove a solid stain
-sanded entire deck to remove patches/residue of stain that remained after using stripper
-replaced several rotted boards with new boards (also pressure-treated)
-allowed the newly installed boards to “weather”, at the advice of a lumber-store employee

It is now spring, the following year. The deck has weathered rain, snow, sun, foot traffic, etc. What needs to be done before I apply new stain (preferably semi-transparent) to the bare wood? Use deck cleaner? Brightener? Both? Sand again? (If you suggest sanding again, I might have to jump off a cliff;)

An image of the deck in its current condition is attached.

Thanks in advance for your advice.

IMG_5543.jpg
Roger R Bolton
Roger R Bolton
1 year ago

I have a raised deck with stained concrete patio below the deck. When I use the Defy Cleaner and Brighter on the deck must I cover the stained concrete to avoid damage to the stained concrete?

shannon Wilson
shannon Wilson
1 year ago

We connected 2 older decks with a new deck. Ive heard to not sand new deck but sand old decks. Do I need to sand before I use a cleaner?

Brian
Brian
1 year ago

Is a brightener necessary if applying a simi-solid oil base stain?

Morgan Camara
Morgan Camara
2 years ago

Used the old bleach and tsp cleaning method and pressure washed twice now the areas have a white film over then….sanding is not an option bc the deck has weathered and is not flat….what can I do to remove this film??????

mary
mary
1 year ago
Reply to  Morgan Camara

I got a white film over my redwood siding after applying the new penetrating oil. I called the oil company people, but they hadn’t heard of that happening. So I took some denatured alcohol and rubbed the white off. Mineral spirits also seemed to work. By the way, The preparation for the siding was a bleach and tsp(as recommended by the redwood association) mixture, to clean and remove mold. Also I had applied Bore-care with mold control- after cleaning. It has been almost a year now and no white film has come back. Everything was allowed to dry, so I don’t think moisture was a factor.

Murph
Murph
2 years ago

I just stripped my deck using F-18 deck stripper. I’m planning to use the same stain – CWF Clear. Should I use a brightener prior to staining?

Dan
Dan
2 years ago

I built a new deck 6 months ago and am getting ready to apply a solid stain.
After I use the cleaner, do I need to use a brightner too? I’m not sure if a brightner is needed with a solid stain.

rita danna
rita danna
2 years ago

I’m installing a new untreated redwood deck, live in colorado. What is best cleaner and brightener to use? Is oil based or water based semi transparent stain best?

Debbie
Debbie
2 years ago

I have a deck that is close to ground level and doesn’t get much sun. The prior solid color stain had issues with peeling. It is now sanded but also had to replace some boards. Do I need to clean and/or brighten sanded parts, how long do I have to wait to stain new boards and do you have any recommendations for new stain, solid or not? Thank you.

Anne
Anne
2 years ago

We have Restore A Deck Cleaner and Semi transparent stain for our deck (which took 6 weeks to arrive); but no brightener. We cannot find any brighteners locally. Is there something else we can do to neutralize the cleaner or can we proceed to staining without it?

Josh
Josh
2 years ago

Should I strip old penetrating stain if the new stain going over it is solid?

Joshua
Joshua
2 years ago

Got two questions: one concerning wood brightener and the other concerning cleaner. I’m cleaning a deck stained and will put solid stain over the top.

Would you recommend wood brightener in this situation? Since the stain is not penetrating, I didn’t know if this step is necessary.

There are some areas that are peeling that will be sanded down as well to note.

Second question is do both cleaners such as “30 Seconds (sodium hypochlorite)” and using an oxygenated powder such as OxiClean affect the pH of the wood in similar ways?

Joshua
Joshua
2 years ago
Reply to  Joshua

Thank you..

Janice S
Janice S
2 years ago

I’ll be cleaning -not stripping- my deck and putting the same stain over last years’ stain. Should I use a brightener or just clean the deck? Is it useless to use a brightener over old stain?

Carra
Carra
2 years ago

I accidentally applied an acrylic water based stain over an oil based stain. Needless to say that didn’t work well. Will sanding the deck with an orbital sander down to the bare wood be enough prep to apply a new coat of the acrylic stain. (It is a solid stain)

Kim
Kim
2 years ago

I cleaned and brightened my deck with RAD products but weather prevented me from staining for about 10 days. During that time we got about three rain storms. Now the deck looks darker again and there are black steaks by the screws. What is my best step to pre the deck to stain now? I’m thinking of a light sanding or using brightener without cleaner. Picture included.

DE9C0D4F-6FB1-4144-8AD9-A12F25698B7A.jpeg
SEA-CJB
SEA-CJB
2 years ago

I pressure washed and then used restore-a-deck cleaner followed by brighter to prep for re staining with an oil based stain this year and then the forecast changed. Looks like I’ll have a week of rain now before it dries out again. Do I need to rewash or reapply the brightener before I stain then?

EPeterson
EPeterson(@epeterson)
2 years ago

I have a new tigerwood deck. I’ve seen quite a few posts, but I’ve yet to find one that gives step by step instructions on staining/protecting the new deck. I plan to use a hardwood stain, such as the AC hardwood stain. Please advise on the steps I need to take in preparation.

Mark
Mark
3 years ago

Just replaced about 1/3 of the deck boards and sanded the rest to get the gray off . Should I clean and brighten the deck or leave it to weather for another year before staining. The boards that weren’t replaced were replaced 2 to 3 years ago. Or can I clean , brighten and stain now?

Mark
Mark
3 years ago

I sanded my cedar deck and want to apply a semi transparent stain. What do I need to do to prep the deck for staining. Do I need to put something on to help the stain to adhere? Or can I wash off the loose saw dust and the stain. I have read that a brighter would help. Any preferences?

Mark
Mark
3 years ago

How about if 1/3 of the wood has just been installed within the last month. This is a continued question from before about sanding the deck

Bob
Bob
3 years ago

How do you feel about just using a
Power washer without any soaps for
Cleaning a cedar deck? Would use of a deck brightened help bring back some of the lost brightness of the cedar?

sheri jordan
sheri jordan
3 years ago

i cleaned my deck yesterday and today it’s raining like the devil. Will I still need to use a brightener when the rain stops? Or will the rain be sufficient to neutralize the cleaners?

L C
L C
3 years ago

I have Messmers UV plus natural on my Western red cedar deck in the Seattle area. It’s relatively new wood but over a year old. It’s had one coat of messmers on it and that’s all it’s ever had. That was about 9 months ago.

Last week, I used Messmers cleaner and that caused areas that appear to not have stain. The deck looks ratty now. Before washing it looked pretty good but messmers says we should wash the deck twice a year.

Last night, I did the water test on bare looking areas as well as the stained looking areas and the water never soaked in. So I think I should put a new coat of stain to protect from UV damage but I’m afraid the stain won’t penetrate.

A week after washing, would it be a good idea to use the Messmers brightener to see if that would allow the stain to penetrate? You said something about being more acidic would help the stain penetrate and that the brightener also opens pores.

Would a year of no UV protection be a serious problem or would it be best to just wait until next year to stain it instead?

L C
L C
3 years ago

Thanks for your quick reply! Would it be alright to spot stain the areas that have no stain color on them? And am I correct in believing that the water test means that the oil based stain won’t soak in?

Ray
Ray
3 years ago

Can I use a deck brightened as a Cleaner?If I have to use both which do I use first?

Robin Joseph
Robin Joseph
3 years ago

Hello. If I have an IPE deck that I want to leave grey. Would I still use a brightener after cleaning?

Chris C.
Chris C.
3 years ago

Thank you for this site – it answers many questions I never knew I had…

Regarding the brightening step, can you suggest any frugal or diy options that won’t harm the plants, dogs or humans? Best,

Chris
Chris
3 years ago

How much raw oxalic acid should I use per gallon for a direct spray application and should I rinse it off after letting it dwell for 10 minutes or should I just leave it on the wood to dry?

Bobby Otero
Bobby Otero
3 years ago

I used deck cleaner on half my deck, didn’t like the results as it appears “ashy”, guess it’s oxidation maybe? I’m assuming I should have applied brightener right after? Is it too late to do this? Can I wait a few days as time is extremely limited?

I didn’t knoApplied on one year old deck, did nothing but leave a white film on deck and fuzzies from me trying to scrub. Worked really good on two plastic chairs that were covered in mildew though. But on pressure treated deck did nothing. Now I have to sand half a deck. Thank Gid I only did half. I didn’t know I had to use brightener.

CFCAC155-DA3C-49EA-8EEB-1BE4B825ED47.jpeg
Bobby Otero
Bobby Otero
3 years ago

Should I worry about that remaining “oxidation”

Bobby Otero
Bobby Otero
3 years ago

Going for a Semi-Transparent, would that be an issue?

Julian
Julian
3 years ago

What is the best long lasting stain for a deck with heavy sun exposure

Pam
Pam
3 years ago

I think it’s very important to address how these products might affect plants in and around the deck. Would they kill them, cause I have a ton of money invested in plants under my deck.

Jim
Jim
3 years ago

Hello, I’ve use a gallon of Behr Wood stripper and then applied Behr wood restorer and my solid cedar doors are still blotchy. I’ve also been sanding them to get them even. Any ideas? As for stain, I’m reading the reviews and would like any suggestions.

IMG_20180921_183438.jpg
Peter Meyer
Peter Meyer
3 years ago

Should the deck be wet or dry prior to applying Restore-A-Deck brightener?

Sarah Steadman
Sarah Steadman
3 years ago

I have cleaned and used brightner on my IPE wood furniture, 1. What happens if I miss some spots with brightner and 2. What if it’s a week due to rain before I can apply oil/stain?

Pam Sarli
Pam Sarli
3 years ago

Our pressure treated pine wood deck is 9 months old. It looks very clean, however we plan on cleaning it with Defy Oxygenated Wood Cleaner. Is it really necessary to use a brightner after cleaning? Also if we do use a brightner, can we just hose brightner off? We are uneasy about using a pressure washer and do not own one. Third question is: If we miss a spot with brightner would it be obvious, before you stain?

Kristian
Kristian
3 years ago

My deck is now clean, stripped and/or sanded in some spots. The brightener can go on now, but I do not yet have the stain (I am still waiting for the samples). The temps in Spokane, Washington have begun to drop to 70 in the day, and high 40s to low 50s at night.
1. Is it too late this season (now mid-September) to apply the stain if the temps remain at these levels? Once I get the samples, I will have to wait for the stain to arrive here.
2. If I do stain, how long after the application should it NOT rain. I cannot control the rain, but how many days after application should I see clear skies in the forecast?
Thanks