Wood Brightening – Deck Brightening 5/5 (3)

This post was updated on January 19, 2022

Deck Brightener

Use of a Deck Brightener

Update for 2022: Wood Brightening – Deck Brightening

We appreciate you visiting Deckstainhelp.com as we continue to be your go-to source for the latest in deck restoration news and trending topics through 2022. Below, we talk about Wood Brightening – Deck Brightening. Feel free to leave a comment below with any pictures you may have.


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, and 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

Brighten A Deck Video – DeckStainHelp.com


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Ashley Misiewicz
Ashley Misiewicz
2 years ago

We have approximately 30 year old redwood decks (front and back) at 7800 ft of elevation in Colorado with almost zero humidity. We’ve already replaced boards as necessary and allowed about 4 weeks of drying for new boards, stripped away old solid(?) stain, and sanded with a floor sander rental from HD. The front deck looks like almost new wood (east facing) and the back deck is pretty beat up still (west facing) with lots of damage from sun and previous owners giant dog claws. From everything I’ve read on your site, I believe we are at the point for a TSP based cleaner, then brightener, then wait two days and apply a semi transparent stain. From my description and these pictures, does this sound correct?

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Ashley Misiewicz
Ashley Misiewicz
2 years ago

Thanks for the super quick reply! We used a small vibrating sander on the front deck which is significantly smaller, then rented the floor sander with 60 grit on the back deck. Perhaps not enough sanding? We’ve already bought the semi transparent stain and are willing to do the work to get the back deck ready. Best to rent the floor sander again or get at it with a hand sander for the entire day?

Ashley Misiewicz
Ashley Misiewicz
2 years ago

Thanks so much for your super fast reply! Both decks originally had the same opaque stain on them, but we got different results after sanding potentially due to the weathering difference on each surface. We’ve already sanded the back deck with a floor sander with 60 grit pads, but it didn’t seem to do nearly as good a job as sanding the front deck with a smaller orbital sander also with 60 grit. We’ve also already purchased the semi transparent stain and are willing to do the work necessary to for the proper preparation to avoid using an opaque stain. Do you suggest that we keep sanding? If so, do we rent the floor sander again or work with the 60 grit on hand sander like we did on the front deck? We are willing to do the work if we will get the same result as the front deck. Thanks again!

Joell Ann
Joell Ann
2 years ago

HI. I cleaned and brightened my Ipe deck weeks ago and it has rained every two days since. So, it has never dried for two days solid or had the opportunity to have a day to dry afterwards if I had oiled it (with Penofin). So, I haven’t been able to oil it. How long does brightening last before I would have to clean & brighten it again before oiling?

Debbie Devereaux
Debbie Devereaux
3 years ago

I found Restore A deck Cleaner and Brightening pack at WalMart by Gemini would like to know if this is the same product it looked a little different

Neill
Neill
3 years ago

I have a small (relatively) area of my deck I forgot to brighten before staining, and the color doesn’t match the rest of the deck. Was rushed for time, just forgot and now kicking myself.

Anything I can do to get it to match outside of stripping it completely and starting over?
It has been done with the Light Walnut color, RAD products, and was thinking when I do another coat next year or in 2, I might go to the Dark Walnut color. Would that equalize the color or not?
Thanks.

Neill
Neill
3 years ago

There were three rotten boards in that area that I am letting season until late next Spring, so maybe stripping/brightening/staining at that time is the best option for that area?

Neill
Neill
3 years ago

….three rotten boards that I am replacing with new boards, that are seasoning…

Jackie Rierdan
Jackie Rierdan
3 years ago

can i just pressure wash our deck and then apply a brightener with applying a cleaner? This is prep prior to a stain. thanks.

Brian Boyd
Brian Boyd
3 years ago

I just cleaned and brightened my redwood deck using Superdeck Cleaner (not stripper) and Brightener (1 part solution to 3 parts water). There are still a few black spots on the deck. (see Spot pictures). Do I need to go over these spots with undiluted cleaner and then brighten again?

Also I have a pergola over the deck (see picture). I find it impossible to clean and then brighten the entire pergola in short time. I was planning to clean and brighten the 2x2s from the top in sections and then clean and brighten the support area from the bottom after that. I know I will drip cleaner and brightener on the support area as I do the top. Is this an issue? I do plan to cover the deck area while I do this and clean and brighten it later.

Will stain the deck using TWP-100 Redwood once I get some good weather.

Any suggestions would be great.

Thanks
Brian

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Brian Boyd
Brian Boyd
3 years ago

Thanks for the quick response. Can you give me advice on the Black Spots?
Brian

Ron Thompson
Ron Thompson
3 years ago

After using the Restore a Deck stripper and brightener, how long should I wait to apply the TWP 1500?

Ron Thompson
Ron Thompson
3 years ago

I had a new redwood deck installed and after 10 days I applied Sherwin-Williams Super Deck Transparent Natural oil-based product. Looked like a million bucks. About one year later the deck has turned almost black. I have been told I should have waited for the redwood to “cure” about 2-3 months before applying the sealer. It may have trapped mold? I live in the Sacramento, CA area with lots of heat in the summer. Suggestions? Cleaner and brightener?

Ron Thompson
Ron Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Ron Thompson

Thank you, especially for the review of the Sherwin-Williams product. Is there a time of year that is best to tackle this?

tien ly
tien ly
3 years ago

We just installed a new redwood fence. One side is rough sawn and the other side is smooth. From what I understand, the rough sawn wood does not need to be prepped before staining so do I just prep the smooth side with the cleaner and brightener before staining?

John
John
3 years ago

I am a trustee for my HOA. We have a resident who previously stained their deck 5+ years ago with a very dark color semi-transparent stain (or perhaps a semi-solid stain). Unsure if the stain used was water-based or oil-based. The color is not within our HOA guidelines.
They have recently had the deck power-washed and cleaned, but the surface still appears dark. Would use of a deck brightener be able to restore the deck to a condition where a lighter colored semi-transparent stain could be applied? If so, which brighter might be best for this situation. Thanks

Matt
Matt
3 years ago

Over the last two years I tried two different ready seal stain products. Both failed due to lack of mildew control and would absorb dirt and grime into the wood that would not wash off.

I’ve now cleaned the deck with some tsp/bleach and the old stain came right off. I then did a sanding to make sure the wood was uniform. It now looks pristine like new cedar wood.

I’ve read the thread but can’t find others who used the same cleaning method. Is a brightener still necessary after using tsp/bleach and then sanding?

Thanks!

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kellie
kellie
3 years ago

are deck posts treated different than the decking boards when prepping and staining a new deck?

Denise
Denise
4 years ago

We have a deck with composite flooring and spindles, but wood railings which we are restraining from tan to white. Do I need to brighten the wood before even if just staining the rails?

Bruce Kolowsky
Bruce Kolowsky
4 years ago

I have a pressure treated pine set of stairs that I built almost a year ago. I am planning on using a deck cleaner and then staining with a solid stain (Olympic Elite). Do i still need to use a brightener with the solid stain?

Doris
Doris
4 years ago

I am stripping an entire deck including the vertical rails and stairs. It is too much to get the stripper on every surface all at one time and be able to get the brightener on right away.
Should I strip and brighten all the horizontal surfaces first then do the vertical surfaces?
Is it best to get all the surfaces stripped and brightened in stages and wait to stain everything all at one time?

Juergen
Juergen
4 years ago

I just finished stripping my deck yesterday and am wondering when best to do the deck brightening? I am not planning on staining for another 3 – 4 weeks. Is it better to do the brightening now, or just before staining?

Leanne
Leanne
4 years ago

If we are going to stain our deck with a dark color, is it still necessary to use a deck brightener?

VVivian GallagherVivian
VVivian GallagherVivian
4 years ago

Thank goodness I have sponged cleaned mold off wainscoting on the porch roof with Oxi Clean and now want to add a preservative to reseal it, prevent mold growth, and also to deter carpenter bees from drilling. If I apply a wood brighter, can I sponge rinse it. I do not want water from a hose to get behind the wainscoting in the porch roof?

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Shannon
Shannon
4 years ago

I stripped the old TWP 1500 stain off of my deck a week ago using Restore-a-Deck stripper, deck brush and garden hose (didn’t have a pressure washer). Didn’t brighten, as I didn’t have enough product on hand for the job. It will be several weeks before I can get back to my deck work. Can I apply the TWP stain without brightening? Will I have to clean the deck before staining due to the length of time between stripping and staining? I’m running out of good weather here in the Northwest and concerned I may end up having to leave my old wood deck unprotected for the winter (which may be better than doing a rush job). Your recommendations?

Jamien
Jamien
4 years ago

I just stripped and brightened but clearly missed some area with the brightened. Should I re-brighten the whole deck or just the missed areas? I’m worried it will get more splotchy

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Jamien
Jamien
4 years ago

Are you confident it won’t just further accentuate the differences in color?

Jamien
Jamien
4 years ago

Thx

Jamien
Jamien
4 years ago

What do you think of Australian wood oil to finish it? That’s what previous owner left in basement, and what I presumably spent the last few days stripping off…

John Keith
John Keith
5 years ago

I have some leftover mixed RAD brightener.
How long can I keep this before it loses it’s brightening-ness?
Thanks!

Shelley Dixon
Shelley Dixon
5 years ago

I stripped and brightened old and newer deck wood. I noticed two things. There are some areas on the newer wood that have little lighter colored spots on it. As if something was splattered. Do you know what causes this? Also, not all old stain came off, mostly on pergola, which was difficult to do. Should I retry stripping and brightening or accept that the pergola is probably not going to have all stain removed? If i do restrip, how is the best way to get it done effectively? Initial strip applied with deck brush and scrubbed.

Shelley Dixon
Shelley Dixon
5 years ago

Spotty areas. Unstripped stain on pergola

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Shelley Dixon
Shelley Dixon
5 years ago

Any suggestions for application of stripper to the pergola so it has minimal run off? Used RAD last time,should I use the same product?

Shelley Dixon
Shelley Dixon
5 years ago
Reply to  Shelley Dixon

Pics of spotty areas and areas of unstripped stain on pergola

Chris
Chris
5 years ago

I have a cedar deck. Is it possible to just brighten the deck every few years to remove the grey look and NOT stain it?

Chris
Chris
5 years ago

Can i just keep cleaning and brightening every year? Seems like a much easier job than staining

Gary Doering
Gary Doering
5 years ago

My cedar deck is about 5 months old. Should I apply brightener now before I stain? also will the brightener damage my white PVC pillar bases? One more question. Is the TWP stains translucent and does it have a sealer as well?

Julie r
Julie r
5 years ago

Are there major differences between the 3 brightener you review here? Is ine better than the other?

Jeremy
Jeremy
5 years ago

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

Doug F
Doug F
5 years ago

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!

DealHaggler
DealHaggler
5 years ago

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!

Glenda Muir
Glenda Muir
6 years ago

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?

Shauna
Shauna
6 years ago

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

Kitty
Kitty
7 years ago

Will restore a deck brightener damage composite board?

Peter
Peter
7 years ago

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

Terri Kaercher
Terri Kaercher
7 years ago

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?

Jane bell
Jane bell
7 years ago

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

Paul
Paul
7 years ago

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?

fiddlecat
fiddlecat
8 years ago

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?

Josh
Josh
8 years ago

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"?

Thanks!

josh
josh
8 years ago

I'm going to use the Wolman Deck-Bite to clean, but are there any brighteners at the big box stores, BM or SW worth using?

Karen
Karen
8 years ago

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?

Mike Mc
Mike Mc
8 years ago

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!

Dee
Dee
8 years ago

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
Dee

Anjelica M
Anjelica M
8 years ago

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),

Karen
Karen
8 years ago

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

Nhu Tran
Nhu Tran
9 years ago

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.

Mike Johnson
Mike Johnson
9 years ago

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.

Mike Johnson
Mike Johnson
9 years ago

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?

Stephanie Ford
Stephanie Ford
9 years ago

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.

Doc
Doc
9 years ago

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?

Bill
Bill
9 years ago

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.

David
David
9 years ago

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?

Jules9
Jules9
9 years ago

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

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