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Wood Brightening – Deck Brightening 5/5 (1)

Deck Brightener

Use of a Deck Brightener

The use of Deck Cleaners and Deck Stains Strippers when prepping wood for a coat of deck stain will cause the pH balance to increase. This is due to the mild caustics (bases) that the cleaners and strippers use, making the products more effective in the cleaning process. The side effect is that the pH is changed and will “darken” the natural wood color. The Deck Brightener (mild acids) will neutralize the caustic of the cleaner or stripper setting the pH balance to a neutral 6. Using a deck brightener will increase the longevity of the stain as well.

Wood Deck Brightening is a much needed and easiest step in the entire prepping process.

The following steps should be used when applying a deck brightener:

  1. Use a Deck Cleaner or a Stain Stripper prior to using a Deck Brightener.
  2. Make sure all dirt, grime, an old stain residue is rinsed from the deck after the cleaning/stripping.
  3. Apply the Deck Brightener as soon as the cleaning is done. Best to apply while wood is still wet.
  4. Let the brightener sit for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Rinse wood thoroughly when done. Heavy washing or scrubbing is not needed.

See here for a list of wood deck brightener reviews

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54 responses to “Wood Brightening – Deck Brightening”

  1. dblmanhattan says:

    What is the best way to wash a deck and clean it? I am not prepping it to restain.

  2. Jules9 says:

    Does new redwood have to be brightened before using a transparent oil based sealer/stain?

  3. David says:

    I have a white (Eastern) cedar deck that is 1 year old has begun to fade (go grey) and I'd like to stain or use an oil preservative to maintain the natural colour. I understand that I'll need a wood brightener but will I need to use a cleaner first?

  4. Bill says:

    I stained my deck with a stain that turned out too dark-(way different than the sample we tried) – its much different than expected and we hate it. It is dark Cinder in color– Is there a way to lighten it, or must I strip and sand this stain to change the color to a more brown coffee color? I was hoping to try to add a second coat of a brown tone but was told I could not stain over stain? please advise.

  5. Doc says:

    I used baking soda to clean my redwood deck a year ago with good results. Now I want to restain after my power wash can I use the neutralizing effect of the baking soda to prep before staining & will it slightly brighten the wood?

  6. Stephanie Ford says:

    Is it ok to use a brightener the day after cleaning my deck? I don't have time to do it all in one day.

  7. Mike Johnson says:

    I just stripped my deck with RAD stripper and now the black color is not coming off everywhere. I put the stripper on heavy and let it sit for about an hour to remove 4 years worth of semi-transparent stain from a Garapa deck. I want to re-stain with a clear oil based stain (Messmers). I've applied the RAD brightener twice, but still have black tinited areas. What can I do now? Should I hit it again with brightener?

  8. Mike Johnson says:

    I removed Flood hardwood semi transparent stain. I had used this product for four years, but this year I got bad discoloration from areas where the stain had worn off. So I decided to start over and change the look. The black areas aren't old stains. They're clearly from the stripper. They're in the shape of where I applied it heavier or more times. Now that the deck is dry, they aren't as apparent, but I'm concerned that they will show through when I apply the Messmer clear stain.

  9. Nhu Tran says:

    I have 15 yo cedar deck that was never protected before. 3 years ago I power washed (TSP an bleach) and stained with Cabot Wood Toner Weather Grey. In no time the deck got very moldy and looks black (I live on waterfront so high humidity). This year I washed again with TSP and Oxygen bleach. 80-90% of the old grey wood toner is removed, only a little bit remain in the deep grooves. There are parts where the wood gets fuzzy and parts where the wood is smooth. I applied with a brush a thin layer of a sample TWP 1500 series Cedar (I am in low VOC states: Maryland Seaboard) . The new stain does not get absorbed into the wood at all – in neither the smooth nor the fuzzy parts, even after a good 3-4days of drying. The stain also did not dry off either and needed to be wiped off. I called TWP dealer and they suggested Armstrong Clark and also to use the wood brightener first.
    My questions are:
    1. Does oxalic acid really open up wood pores? my issue is absorption into the wood not stains in the wood. It has now been over 2 weeks since I finished cleaning – will the brightener still work if I use it now?
    2. Someone suggested sanding to open the pores. Should I do both and in what order? sand then brightener or brightener then sand?
    3. Is Armstrong Clark a more penetrating stain then the TWP 1500 series? Or is it the wood treatment that I need to work on?

    What is the best course of action now? I have a large area to cover ( >1000sqft flat surface, not counting the steps and the many many spindles) – so the simplest, least time consuming procedure would be most appreciated.

    • Nhu, if the TWP does not penetrate then there is something hindering this. Not sure if the Cabot is still there or not causing this issue. Oxalic will not fix this. You may need to sand the entire deck then clean and brighten the wood when done. IF the TWP did not absorb then the AC will have a hard time as well.

  10. Karen says:

    Is it ok to use my left over product of Benjamin Moore restore or brightener and neutralizer and then apply the TWP product?

    • Karen, I am not familiar with any of the BM prepping products so I am not 100% sure. A long as the wood is clean and free of any other deck coatings, you should be okay to apply the TWP.

  11. Anjelica M says:

    How long can you wait in between putting the brightner on and staining? Our deck is very large (upper and lower portion) and I don't know if we will be able to stain both parts in one weekend (maybe split it up to two weekends),

  12. Dee says:

    My deck is almost 30 years old. had use a clear Olympic oil wood protector until 3 years ago and used a semitransparent stain as I was told would protect better with the pigments. I just got through stripping with RAD stripper, power washing and then RAD brightener. I now have a lot of black areas but not dry yet either . If they do not go away what next. Did not have black areas before. What happens if I just go ahead and apply the TWP stain 1530 natural. I am assuming as dry it will lighten some?
    Thanks for any help

  13. Mike Mc says:

    Used the Gemini cleaner/brightener on one yr. old cedar deck. Took the gray right off – used a garden hose with sprayer and LOTS of water to clean the gray sloughing off.

    However the cedar is quite knotty in places and there are a good amount of 'fuzzies' left around them. Do we need to sand this off? Or is there another way to clean this fluff off properly? Need some ideas quick – deck is ready to stain otherwise!

    • Mike Mc, the fuzzies is due to removing the heavily oxidized (gray) wood cells. The more gray you have the more fuzzies you will get. Try lightly sanding with 60 grit and rinse the deck with water to remove sand dust when done. The other way to remove fuzzies is to pressure wash the deck with straight water.

  14. Karen says:

    Is it ok to brighten the deck today with rain in the forecast tomorrow as long as we let it dry for 2 days prior to staining?

  15. Josh says:

    I have a 3 month old PT deck that I'm ready to stain with TWP100. The deck has had minimal traffic on it. Do I need to go through the cleaning/brightening process prior to staining? Also, I have a moisture meter. What is the threshold for "dry"?


  16. fiddlecat says:

    CLorox seems to brighten my pine nicely . . . also some oak boards . . . is this ok to just get the grey out? Although CLorox is a hi -(non-acidic) ph will it do the job?

  17. Paul says:

    I have a very hard Brazillian hard wood deck. I sanded with 20 grit paper and didn't get far so I then used a strong stripper and a metal scraper and then re sanded with 20 grit again. It is now back to its natural color. It looks like new wood. I want to leave the natural color and just seal it with a clear sealer and am not sure what product to use. I live near Sacramento, Ca. what would you suggest?

  18. Jane bell says:

    Have sanded the deck. Should we use brighten before staining?

  19. Terri Kaercher says:

    i applied RAD stripper to a redwood deck that is 30+ yrs old,scrubbing then rinsing with a hose. The boards turned black or got darker as I applied the stripper, which I gather is suppose to happen. I applied the brightener as directed and it lightened the wood in some places but other places the wood remained dark and or black. When the boards dried they are a tannish color with some dark/black ares. Will this affect the stain? Should I reapply the brightener? I sanded the boards prior to stripping to remove a solid wood stain. It appears most of the black areas are around the knots where I applied more pressure while sanding. Could this have an affect?

    • It is probably tannin or even rust stains. Try to apply a wood brightener again at a higher concentration. Apply it and do not rinse off. Let it dry into the wood. You may have also \”burned\” the wood with the sander. This will not come out.

  20. Peter says:

    What is the minimum amount of time I must wait after brightening and rinsing off the brightener, before I can stain?

  21. Kitty says:

    Will restore a deck brightener damage composite board?

  22. Shauna says:

    We have stripped our mahogany deck and it looks great in most spots but does not appear to have a uniform color. Some spots are darker than others. Is this something we should fix before we stain or will the stain cover up the inconsistencies

    • It is most likely old stain on the deck. You need to use a stain stripper again and pressure wash off. Brighten the wood when done. You cannot mask or cover the darkspots when reapplying a semi-trans stain.

  23. Glenda Muir says:

    I have a 1 year old cedar deck. Applied sikkens srd last fall and it's already blackened, looks awful.
    I used a natural cedar colour. What can I do to bring my deck back to looking good?

  24. DealHaggler says:

    I have a 950 sq ft pine deck which I washed with Olympic Deck Cleaner (chlorine based). I also power washed it and applied too much pressure so I have a TON of fuzzies. Rain was also in the forecast and life got busy. Now its been about 4-5 weeks since I washed it with that chlorine cleaner and it def has some dirt from my dogs going in the backyard.

    After reading a few of these threads I'm going to go get a floor buffer to get rid of the fuzzies. I'm unsure as to whether I need to brighten since the deck doesn't look very dark. Also, do I really need to wash again (then brighten) or could I just buff the fuzzies off and scrub with basic soapy water/push broom and stain after 2 days of drying? I have 3-4 days of sunshine with no rain in the forecast for once. Thanks!

  25. Doug F says:

    I stripped the deck over the past 5 weeks, the last chunk of decking was stripped about 2 weeks ago. Wood brightener had not been applied. The deck isn't as dark as it was several weeks ago. We've had several rainfalls in the past 5 weeks. Since it's been 2-5 weeks, I'm not sure if I should use a wood cleaner and brightener before staining, use wood brightener only, or just go ahead and stain. Any recommendations would be appreciated. Thank you!

  26. Jeremy says:

    What is the longest after rinsing deck brightener that the stain can be applied? Is waiting a week too long?

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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.