The Ultimate Guide to Stripping Stain from Your Deck: Step-by-Step Instructions and Tips

stripping stain from deck

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Stripping the stain from your deck might seem like a daunting task, but it’s an important step in maintaining its appeal and longevity. Did you know that stripping and re-staining not only enhances the appearance of worn-out decks but also safeguard them against weather damage? This comprehensive guide will equip you with knowledge of the whys and hows of deck stripping, making this seemingly intimidating project achievable.

Let’s embark on this journey to restore your deck to its former glory!

Key Takeaways – Stripping Stain from Deck 💭

  • Stripping solid or semi-transparent stain from your deck is an important step in maintaining its appeal and longevity, as it allows for even application of new stains and prevents peeling or flaking.
  • While there are innovative products that allow you to bypass the stripping step, traditionally speaking, it is recommended to strip your deck before re-staining for optimal results and long-term durability.
  • Pressure washers can be a valuable tool in the deck stripping process, but it’s crucial to use them with care to avoid damaging the surface. Using a low psi setting is recommended.
  • To effectively strip stain from your deck, gather the necessary tools and supplies, prepare your deck by removing furniture and debris, wet down surrounding plants for protection, apply a quality deck stripper using a roller, scrub off old paint or stain with a stiff bristle brush while rinsing regularly, neutralize the stripper with clean water after removal.
  • Alternative methods like power washing (with caution), using deck stain strippers or brighteners can also be used to remove old stains. Sanding is another option that requires more effort but can achieve great results.
  • Following these steps will help you successfully strip stains from your deck and restore its natural beauty.

Understanding the Need to Strip Stain from Deck

stripping stain from deck

Stripping stains from your deck is an essential step in the maintenance process. This procedure rejuvenates your old and worn-out wood surfaces, providing a fresh canvas where new stains can penetrate better.

Old stain or finish layers may peel, flake, or discolor due to various factors such as weather conditions. This leaves an unsightly patchwork of fading colors and peeling patches that detriments both the aesthetic and functional value of your deck.

Deck professionals recommend removing previous coats of stain before applying new ones for optimal results. Complete stripping ensures even application of the new stain, preventing uneven coloring or blotchy areas on the wood surface.

Additionally, it allows you to check for any hidden damages under the old coatings like mold growth or rotting spots that need immediate attention during a deck tear-down process.

Therefore understanding how to strip & clean a deck followed by proper staining & sealing becomes crucial in home improvement tasks involving decks.

Can You Skip the Stripping Step?

Tempting as it may be to skip the labor-intensive process of stripping your deck, doing so could result in subpar results. If a previous stain or paint job is present on the wood, applying a new layer directly over it can lead to premature peeling and flaking.

This happens because the fresh coat cannot properly adhere to the surface if an old stain or paint is still clinging to it.

However, some innovative products on the market such as Rust-Oleum Restore and Behr DeckOver allow homeowners to bypass this step without sacrificing quality. These unique solutions create a thick layer similar to plastic that covers up any existing finish while providing protection against weather damage.

Yet, bear in mind these are exceptions rather than normative practices for most staining jobs.

Despite these advancements, traditionally speaking, failing to strip your deck before re-staining can prove counter-productive down the line requiring even more strenuous restoration work later.

Therefore, although time-consuming and seemingly cumbersome initially, stripping plays an integral role in ensuring longevity for your newly stained deck by laying the perfect groundwork—free from old stains and blemishes—for subsequent stain application.

The Role of Pressure Washers in Stripping Deck Stain

Pressure washers can play a pivotal role in the deck stripping process, offering robust and efficient removal of old paint or stain. Utilizing pressure washing as part of your deck cleaning strategy allows for significant time saving over manual scrubbing with a stiff-bristled brush.

Deck professionals often recommend this technique due to its ability to effectively eliminate stubborn stains degrading the beauty of your wood deck.

However, it’s crucial to exercise care when wielding high-power tools like these. Pressure washers on high-pressure settings might end up damaging your wood surface instead of merely removing the solid color wood stains.

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To maintain the integrity and longevity of your outdoor stains, using a low psi setting is recommended during finish removal. This method ensures that you strip & clean the deck without causing harm to underlying wooden fibers or contributing undue weather damage.

How-To Guide to Strip Stain from Your Deck

In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of stripping stain from your deck to prepare it for a fresh coat.

Gather Necessary Tools and Supplies To Strip Your Deck

To successfully strip the stain from your deck, you’ll need just a couple few essential tools and supplies. First, make sure to gather a bucket for mixing solutions and holding water, along with any protective gear such as gloves and safety glasses.

You’ll also want to have a stiff bristle brush with a pole attachment for easy scrubbing, as well as a hose for rinsing off the deck strippers. Additionally, grab a 1/2″ nap paint roller with an extension pole for applying the deck stain stripper evenly.

Lastly, don’t forget to have the necessary chemicals on hand – specifically wood stain and finish stripper and an all-in-one wood cleaner. By having these tools ready before starting the stripping process, you’ll be well-prepared to achieve excellent results in revitalizing your worn-out deck.

Prepare Your Deck

To prepare your brand-new cedar deck for stain stripping, start by removing all furniture, plants, and other items from the deck. Clearing the surface will ensure that you have ample space to work to remove stain, and prevent any obstacles while stripping the stain.

Next, sweep or brush off any loose debris such as leaves, dirt, or dust. This step is important because it allows for better adhesion of the stripper to the wood surface. You can also use a power washer to remove loose debris as well.

After clearing away debris, cover any nearby plants or landscaping with plastic or a tarp to protect them from potential damage caused by chemicals used during the stripping process.

It’s crucial to wet down surrounding plants before starting because this provides an extra layer of protection against runoff and helps minimize their exposure to potentially harmful substances.

Additionally, inspect your deck for any loose boards or nails that could pose a safety hazard during the staining process. Secure any loose deck boards and replace any protruding nails with screws to create a safer working environment.

Wet Your Landscaping

Before you begin the deck stripping process, it’s important to take a few minutes to wet down your landscaping. This simple step can help protect your plants and surrounding areas from any potential damage or discoloration caused by the stripping agent runoff.

By thoroughly soaking the ground and foliage around your deck, you create a barrier that prevents the chemicals from seeping into the soil or coming into contact with delicate plant life.

Taking this extra precaution ensures that you can strip away the old stain without worrying about harming your beautiful outdoor surroundings. So grab your hose and give everything a good dousing before diving into the new deck stain restoration process.

Apply Deck Stain Stripper Using a Roller

To begin the process of stripping stain from your deck, you will need to apply a deck stain stripper using a roller. This step is crucial in breaking down and loosening the old paint or stain that has been applied to your deck.

By using a roller, you can ensure an even and thorough application of the decking stripper, covering all areas of the wood surface. Make sure to choose a quality deck stain stripper product that is suitable for your specific type of wood and finish.

Apply the stripper in long strokes along the grain of the wood, working in manageable sections at a time. The goal here is to saturate the wood with the stripper so it can effectively penetrate and dissolve the old coating.

Scrub Off the Old Paint or Stain

To effectively remove the old paint or stain from your deck, you will need to scrub the surface using a stiff bristle brush. This step is crucial in preparing the wood for a fresh coat of stain.

Start by focusing on one section at a time, applying firm pressure to loosen and lift the old paint or stain. Work the whole deck in small circular motions, following the grain of the wood. As you go along, be sure to regularly rinse your brush and reapply the deck stain stripper if needed.

Don’t forget to pay extra attention to any stubborn areas where the paint or stain may be more resistant. By thoroughly scrubbing off the old paint or stain, you’ll create a clean surface ready for a beautiful new finish that will enhance your deck’s overall appearance and durability.

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Neutralize the Deck Stripper

After you’ve applied the deck stripper and scrubbed off the old paint or stain, it’s important to neutralize the deck stripper to prevent any potential damage to your wood. To do this, thoroughly rinse the entire deck with clean water.

This will help remove any residue from the stripper and restore a more natural pH balance to the wood. In addition, neutralizing the deck stripper will ensure that your new stain or finish adheres properly and provides long-lasting protection for your deck.

So don’t forget this crucial step in the stripping process!

Alternative Methods for Removing Old Deck Stain

In addition to the traditional stripping process, there are alternative methods for removing old deck stains. Power washing with a high-pressure setting can effectively strip away the stubborn stain too.

Deck stain strippers and wood deck brighteners can also be used to remove old stains and restore the wood’s natural beauty. Another option is sanding the whole wooden deck itself, which requires more effort but can achieve great results.

Power Washing

Power washing is a highly effective method for removing old paint or stain from your deck. By using a combination of high-pressure water and chemical cleaners, power washing can effectively strip away years of weather damage and grime from the wood surface.

It is important to note that when power washing, it’s best to start with a low psi setting and gradually increase the pressure if needed. This will help prevent any damage to the wood fibers while still achieving great results.

With the right equipment and technique, power washing can make the stripping process much easier and quicker, leaving your deck ready for a fresh coat of stain or sealant.

Using Deck Stain Strippers

To effectively remove old deck stain, using deck cleaner and stain strippers can be a game-changer. These powerful chemical solutions work by breaking down the existing finish and making it easier to scrub away.

Deck stain strippers are especially useful for removing hard-to-remove stains and paints that may have built up over time. They typically contain sodium hydroxide or other strong chemicals that penetrate the wood fibers and break down the caustic state of the old finish.

While they won’t fully remove solid color wood stains, paints, varnishes, or excessively over-applied acrylic semi-transparent and semi-solid coatings, deck stain strippers do an excellent job at rejuvenating weathered decks and creating a clean surface for new staining or sealing.

After applying the stripper according to the manufacturer’s instructions, make sure to thoroughly scrub off any remaining residue before neutralizing with a wood brightener to restore balance to the wood’s pH level.

Applying Wood Deck Brightener

To further enhance the appearance of your stripped deck, applying a wood deck brightener is highly recommended. A wood deck and then a wood brightener that effectively removes any remaining stain residue and restores the natural color and vibrancy of the wood.

This essential step ensures that your newly stripped deck looks its best before you move on to applying a fresh coat of stain or sealant. The process involves evenly distributing the brightener over the entire surface using a sprayer or roller, allowing it to sit for a specific duration specified in the product instructions, and then rinsing it off with water.

By incorporating this step into your deck-stripping process, you can achieve stunning results and revive your outdoor space to its former glory.

Best Practices for Stripping Painted Decks

When it comes to stripping painted decks, there are a few best practices that can make the process to remove paint much easier and more effective. First and foremost, it’s important to start with a clean deck surface.

Remove any loose or peeling paint before applying the stripper, as this will help the product penetrate better and ensure more even results.

Another key practice is to work in smaller sections at a time. This allows you to focus on one area at a time without letting the stripper dry out too quickly. It also prevents overwhelming yourself with a large area all at once.

Additionally, using a stiff-bristled brush is crucial when scrubbing off old paint or stain. The stiff brush also helps to agitate the surface and remove stubborn spots of finish that may not come off easily.

Be sure to use long strokes along the wood grain of the wood for best results.

Recommendations for Best Deck Stain Remover

Finding the right stain remover for your deck can be a game-changer. It can streamline your stripping process and give you much better results. Here are our top recommendations:

1. Behr Premium Wood Stain and Finish Stripper – Perfect for removing old wood stains and finishes, this product is effective but requires care when in use due to its strong chemicals.

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2. SaverSystems Deck Wood Stain Stripper – This deck stain remover not only effectively removes the old stain but also prepares the wood for refinishing.

3. Rust-Oleum Wood Deck Stripper – A popular choice, it is known to tackle tough stains and can be directly applied over existing coats of paint or stain, as mentioned previously.

4. Dumond Chemicals Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover – This is a safe, user-friendly formula that doesn’t harm the wood.

5. Citri-Strip QCG73801T Paint and Varnish Stripping Gel – This one is eco-friendly and safe, making it an ideal choice for those who care about the environment.

6. JOMAX Stain and Finish Deck Stripper – It’s a semi-paste formula capable of removing multiple layers of various solid stains, stain, acrylic, latex, and oil-based paints.

7. DEFY Exterior Wood Stain Stripper – It is designed to remove weathered, clear, and semi-transparent exterior wood and deck stains.

8. Sunnyside Corporation 63532 2-Minute Remover Advanced Paint & Varnish Remover Liquid – This fast-acting stain remover works to remove solid stain in two minutes.

Remember to always wear protective gear when using these products, and ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.


In conclusion, stripping stain from your deck is an essential step in maintaining its beauty and longevity. By following the step-by-step instructions and utilizing the right tools and supplies, you can achieve professional-looking results.

Whether you choose to power wash, use deck stain strippers or brighteners, or opt for alternative methods like sanding, this ultimate guide has provided you with all the information needed to successfully strip stain from your deck.

Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and transform your worn-out deck into a stunning outdoor space once again. Happy stripping!


1. Why is it important to strip stain from my deck?

Stripping stain from your deck is important because it allows you to remove old, worn-out stain that may have faded or become damaged over time. This process prepares the surface for new stain application, ensuring better adhesion and a more even finish.

2. What tools do I need to strip stain from my deck?

To strip stain from your deck, you will need a few essential tools including a pressure washer or garden hose with a high-pressure nozzle, a deck paint stripper solution, stiff-bristle brush or scrub brush, plastic sheeting or drop cloths to protect surrounding areas, safety goggles and gloves.

3. How do I properly apply the deck stain stripper solution?

To properly apply the deck stain stripper solution, start by wetting down the deck paint and area with water. Then apply the solution according to the manufacturer’s instructions using either a pump sprayer or a roller/brush combination. Allow the solution sufficient time to penetrate and loosen the old stain before scrubbing it away with a stiff-bristle brush.

4. Can I skip stripping if I want to change the color of my stained deck?

While it may be tempting to skip stripping if you want to change the color of your stained deck, it is not recommended. Stripping ensures proper adhesion of new stain and helps achieve an even finish without any remnants of previous stains interfering with your desired outcome. Skipping this step could result in less than satisfactory results that may require additional work in the future

5. Do I need to remove all old stain before restaining a deck?

When restaining a deck, it is generally recommended to remove all old stain before applying a new coat. This ensures better adhesion and a more uniform appearance. Stripping the old stain allows the new stain to penetrate the wood effectively and enhances the longevity of the new finish. However, if the existing stain is in good condition, you can opt for a maintenance coat by lightly sanding the surface and applying a new layer of stain. It’s essential to assess the condition of the old stain and the deck’s overall appearance before deciding whether to remove all the old stain or perform a maintenance coat.

6. When should I strip and stain my deck?

Stripping and staining your deck is typically recommended when the existing stain or finish is deteriorating, peeling, or showing signs of wear. Additionally, you may consider stripping and staining your deck when the wood has become discolored, faded, or grayed due to exposure to the elements. It’s also a good idea to strip and stain your deck if you want to change the color or enhance the overall appearance. Generally, the best time to strip and stain your deck is during mild weather conditions, preferably in spring or fall, when temperatures are moderate and there is low humidity. This allows the stain to dry properly and ensures optimal results.

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