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Top 10 Myths for Exterior Wood and Deck Restoration

1. New wood does not need to be cleaned. This is not true. New wood needs to be prepped with a wood cleaner and a wood brightener. This will remove dirt, grime, and mill glaze. These two steps will "open" the wood pores allowing the stain to penetrate better. The better the wood stain absorbs, the better it will work.

2. If I apply an extra coat it will last longer. Applying extra coatings will not make the stain last longer. This will cause a "buildup" of the stain on top of the surface instead of penetrating "into" the surface. In actuality over application can cause the stain to prematurely fail.

3. Wood or Deck Stripping is Difficult. Stripping the wood of an old transparent or semi-transparent stain is not that difficult, but it does depend on the finish and amount of previous coatings. The Wood Stripper works by penetrating through the old coating and "softening" the bond between the wood cells and the stain. In many cases, it is easier and more beneficial to use a wood stripper instead of a wood cleaner.

4. Applying a Water-Based Stain is easier than applying an Oil-Based. In our opinion, it is just as easy or easier to apply an oil-based wood stain. Water-based stains will dry faster than oil-based. It can be beneficial to have a stain that does not dry too fast. Less chance for overlaps.

5. A deck can be properly prepped for $99. The $99 Deck Cleaning coupon from a local pressure washing company is a marketing gimmick. To properly prep your wood you will need to use a wood stripper or wood cleaner followed by a wood brightener. It is just impossible to have your deck prepped for $99 properly. Be aware of any contractor who says they can do this for a "cheap" price. They will probably end up damaging your wood.Cry

6. Extended Warranties. Any warranty that claims over 2 years on a horizontal surface is either limited or is playing the numbers game on claims. Nothing will look perfect after two to three years. They will all wear and most importantly fade from the UV exposure. If you read the warranty claims you will see they are limited by saying words such as "resists fading" or "normal wear and tear". At best all you will get is product replacement.

7. Beading Water is Important. This is just plain wrong. Beading water is a misconception that consumers expect after seeing television commercials saying it is important. The only way to bead water is to seal the surface completely by using a wax or silicone. It is better to have a wood stain that "sheds" water and still allows the wood to be able to breathe.

8. No need to use a Wood Brightener. The use of a wood Brightener is essential to neutralize the pH balance of the wood after the use of a Wood Stripper or Wood Cleaner. This will lighten the wood and give your stain better results! It is also the easiest and least expensive step in the entire process.

9. Big Box Stores sell the best products. Most of the products you find at Big Box stores are mediocre at best. In fact, many of these products have major issues and some even have had class action lawsuits against them.

10. Wood Stains should be "shiny" like my hardwood floor. This is actually a very bad idea. When you apply a wood stain that builds like a varnish on your wood, you will have many issues. The finish will blister and peel. In addition, it will be extremely difficult or impossible to fix. Most likely sanding of the deck will be needed. It is best to have a wood or deck stain the penetrates into the wood leaving a dull or "matte" finish.

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  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    HR · 09/03/2021
    How important is it to use a wood brightener immediately after using a stain stripper?  Can we do it the next day or even a few days after removing all the stain?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Gg · 08/10/2021
    I recently stripped a semitransparent stain off my pressure treated deck and used a power washer to remove the stripper and old finish. It now needs to be sanded to remove wood fuzz/loose fibers and smooth it out (10+year old wood but was well-preserved). What is the correct order of the next steps...do I need to use wood cleaner, followed by brightener? Or only brightener? Where does standing fall into the steps? Also, the deck has a new addition with new wood which flows seamlessly from the old/existing deck, so does that portion need to be treated differently?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      The Sealer Store · 08/10/2021
      Sand 60-80 grit and then brightener last. New wood needs to weather for 3+ months and then cleaned and brightened for prep.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Gg · 08/10/2021
        Thanks. After letting the new portion of the deck weather, is it necessary to apply cleaner, then brightener? Or would only brightener be okay if I lightly power washed it first?  
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          The Sealer Store · 08/11/2021
          Doing both steps will give better penetration for the wood stain.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Renee · 06/09/2021
    If I'm only pressure-washing my deck and not using a stripper or cleaner, is there any need for a brightener?  Or is the sole purpose of the brightener to restore proper ph after using other chemicals?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      The Sealer Store · 06/09/2021
      Restore pH balance and remove deeper discolorations that a cleaner will not remove. 
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    B J · 05/24/2021
    I used a solid stain on my deck and it's peeling. I've sanded and cleaned it with a solution of TSP and water.  When I rinsed the deck more paint peeled off.  I decided to redo it with a deck paint instead of stain.  What other steps should I take to prep for painting.  
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      The Sealer Store · 05/24/2021
      You want a solid stain, not a paint for a deck. Spot sand all loose or peeling stain and then cover with a new coat of solid stain.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Steve · 12/17/2020
    Hello, I have installed new wood for decking (very standard PT board). I was wondering if a wood stripper is better than a wood cleaner? I was reading it does a more intense job, I was thinking this would save some scrubbing, but now I'm thinking that it might be overkill for new boards. Also, should I bother to sand some slightly rough spots or better off just going right to staining (after just a clean and brighten).

    Also, I would like to skip the sanding, although I know some of the boards could be touched up. My question is does it help the new boards to sand in my case? I have a low grade lumber, not the nice decking boards because i am using a solid color stain. I'm thinking this is just aesthetics and doesn't affect the staining process, or can even close the pours more.

    And sorry, one more! I live in an extremely sunny state (second only to Arizona) and I read that for extreme UV protection, a solid color water base stain would protect the most; do you agree or would oil be better? Thanks in advance!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      The Sealer Store · 12/18/2020
      Do not use a stripper on a new deck. Use a deck cleaner and then a wood brightener after the wait. https://www.opwdecks.com/when-to-stain-a-new-deck.htm

      No need to sand. Solid stains will lead to peeling at some point. Semi-transparent stains are best. https://www.opwdecks.com/woodanddeckstains.htm
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    John · 09/19/2019
    Sorry but another question. Wife got wood brightener on out stained cedar siding and it dried. Is this going to ruin the current stain
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Jeff · 05/16/2019
    I have a vacation home in the Mountains of North Carolina, where it is very wet and cool. This makes it extremely difficult to plan deck staining, painting, or any outside work. We only use the place now in 7-10 day intervals, which really makes things much harder. We are lucky to have 3 days without moisture of some sort. We cleaned the deck with a stiff bristle brush and a deck cleaner last fall. The wood got very clean, but not tremendously bright . We had not intended on cleaning it this May. After reading several opinions and watching several videos, we have determined we will never have time to use a brightener, as this will cut into our time to do the work, by adding at least 3 more days for drying. Can we apply stain now in May, after the wood sat over the winter? I am assuming that subsequent rains and snow would have neutralized some or most of the cleaner that we used last fall, but maybe not. The deck has been dry for 2 days and we are hoping to start applying stain, after using a blower and a thorough sweeping. I am realistic that the wood will not look amazing, as parts of the deck are perhaps more than 30 years old. I also know that I want to get some sort of penetrating sealer on it to enhance and protect the deck. We may only be able to do this in sections, as chance of rain is every 3 or 4 days up here..What do you suggest we do? Stain away after additional sweeping? Let the wood continue to weather and attempt to do another time? Burn the deck down and start over, hoping maybe the house goes too, get an insurance claim, and start from scratch? jk, on the last statement.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      The Sealer Store · 05/16/2019
      Using the brightener is the same days as the cleaner and does not add any days. You cannot stain after your prep last Fall. It will need to be prepped again. Let dry for two days and stain.
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    Stephanie · 04/29/2018
    Is the deck cleaner and brightner all in one product okay to use?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      The Sealer Store · 04/30/2018
      It is not possible to have a cleaner and brightener in one. The brightener neutralizes a cleaner so it would be ineffective to combine them.
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    The Sealer Store · 10/04/2017
    Craig A. Arthur:
    unfortunately I added an additional coating of stain on a newly sanded deck. Yep, it didn't dry. I was told to use mineral spirits to help remove the oily buildup or TIDE powder. Has anyone used these solutions or know of another one? Would TSP work?

    Remove all and start over is really the best way to fix.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Craig A. Arthur · 10/04/2017
    unfortunately I added an additional coating of stain on a newly sanded deck. Yep, it didn't dry. I was told to use mineral spirits to help remove the oily buildup or TIDE powder. Has anyone used these solutions or know of another one? Would TSP work?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    The Sealer Store · 11/22/2015
    It will help to brighten the wood after sanding and rinse the wood as well to remove any sand dust. This will make the wood more porous for the stain.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Judy · 11/22/2015
    I cleaned my deck with deck cleaner approximately a month ago. We sanded railings so far and plan on sanding floor. Was I supposed to use wood brightner before sanding or after? Or do I even need wood brightner if sanding?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    The Sealer Store · 07/09/2015
    Rough sawn wood in general can be stained right away as long at the wood is dry. Smooth new wood that has mill glaze needs to season out in the open and be prepped with a cleaner and wood brightener. You did complicate it somewhat with the sanding but since you used only 40 grit then washed to "swell" the wood pores, I think you are still fine to stain now without any other prep. Try an oil based stain that is penetrating like the Armstrong Clark or the TWP Stains. Probably just one coat.
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    Iain · 07/08/2015
    I have red cedar rough sawn into 1x6 planks about 15 years ago. it has been indoor stored and stickered ever since. some of it, I have long-board power sanded, one side, with 40 grit to remove the saw marks. The sanded and the unsanded boards have been power washed with 800 psi, water only. they were then moved back inside, stickered and turned to dry. they are now fully dry.

    My Question. why would I use a cleaner or brightener on this wood. AND why would an oil stain not penetrate perfectly fine into this wood?
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    PATRICK JARRETT · 10/14/2014
    HI THERE
    Will I need a wood brightener and stain for my deck to seal it for the winter after I have removed the old stain
    I was told that the brighter is sufficient for the NY horrible winters at home depot..
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    The Sealer Store · 06/08/2013
    You cannot fix warping boards but you can clean, brighten and stain to give the wood some more life.
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    marion · 06/08/2013
    my house is 30 years old, and has turned black, the wood on the back side is drawing up, I know we will have to replace it, but is it possible to save the rest of the wood, without going broke it is all cedar
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    ChrisC · 05/22/2013
    I have a 7 year old cedar deck with Sikkens SRD on it now. I am sanding the wood to remove all trace of Sikkens prior to staining with A-C semi-transparent stain. Do I need to apply a wood brightener after sanding?
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    The Sealer Store · 04/04/2013
    For one the deck when stained will be slightly darker as the cleaner will raise the pH, darkening the appearance. The other reason if you leave caustics from the cleaner in the wood and not neutralize, you can have a negative reaction with the stain.
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    Dave Stewart · 04/04/2013
    What is the negative result of having not used a brightener on pressure treated pine, once cleaned with Olympic cleanser and pressure rinsed, when an oil-based stain is to follow?