The use of a wood deck brightener is needed for two main reasons. The first is that wood brighteners are designed to restore the wood's pH balance to neutral after using a deck cleaner or a stain stripper. The second is that the deck brightener will lighten the wood color making the stain look better and last longer when applied.

Applying a deck brightener is the easiest step in the restoration process and the most fulfilling. The results are almost immediate in that you will be able to see the wood lighten in color right in front of your eyes. Brighteners will improve the durability of the stain as well. Please see picture below:

how-to-brighten-deck

How to brighten a deck:

  1. The deck will need to be cleaned first with a wood cleaner or stain stripper. It is normal for the caustic in the cleaner or stripper to darken the wood's pH balance. Make sure that the wood is thoroughly wet and rinsed from dirt and debris. The wood brightener should be applied as soon as possible.
  2. Wear protective clothing, gloves, and eyewear.
  3. Mix deck brightener concentrates according to directions.
  4. Applying the wood brightener with a pump sprayer is the easiest way. Thoroughly saturate all wood. No scrubbing or pressure washing is needed. Take care to minimize over spray onto any plants and aluminum siding/trim.
  5. Wait 10-20 minutes. You will see the wood lighten in color noticeably. Rinse all wood when done.

If you have any deck brightening questions please ask below. All questions are typically answered within a day.

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  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    james lynch · 10/13/2016
    I have some stains from metal and mold from vegetation on my PT deck a year and half old, never treated. It is mid October here in Durham NC several weeks from leaf falling, should I clean and brighten now and wait till spring to stain, try to do it all now, other words what do you suggest. Deck is about 1k sq ft. Thanks so much.
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    The Sealer Store · 05/08/2016
    You cannot lighten a deck stain without removing it fully first. Try a stain stripper or sanding to remove. Once removed you can use a lighter colored stain.
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    Lucinda Jones · 05/07/2016
    I wish to lighten a deck I have just finished yesterday sealing with Thompson Waterproof Sealer. It has become too brown - not the neutral that I was expecting. I used the 'PLUS' - maybe a mistake. Wood is 6 years old - sealed once before. Was scrubbed clean.
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    The Sealer Store · 04/13/2016
    Prep with both a deck cleaner and wood brightener. Wait a few days then stain.
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    frank farrar · 04/13/2016
    I am staining an old pressure treated pine fresh water boat dock.
    I made the mistake of aggressively pressure washing with water using a fan tip. I have since sanded to remove the fuzzy wood and the old stain that didn't blast off.
    Please advise on the correct way to proceed. My client wants to use the same Cabot Australian Timber Oil Natural that he over applied three years ago and did not maintain.
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    The Sealer Store · 04/08/2016
    Yes you should apply brightener as soon as you are done with the cleaner. Let the brightener sit for 10-20 minutes then lightly rinse. Cleaners are applied first and are pressure washed off after 10 minutes. The cleaner does most of the work to remove dirt, mold etc. Brightener neutralizes the cleaner and lightens the wood color.
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    Andy Green · 04/07/2016
    How will a brightener work on 35 year red cedar shingle siding? I see in some of the comments that cleaning and brightening should be done one right after the other. Is this the process? or can the wood dry before brightening. Does the wood need to be rinsed after brightening and if so how long should the brightener be left on? In other words, what are your recommended steps from start of cleaning & brightening up to the point of staining? Thanks a bunch!!
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    The Sealer Store · 09/08/2015
    No stripping is needed but you do need both a deck cleaner and wood brightener. Use the Restore A Deck Kits for the prep. Stain with either oil based or water based.
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    Gary · 09/07/2015
    We have an old pressure treated pine deck that has not been treated in any way (except pressure washing) in at least 7 years, maybe more. Remarkably, its still in pretty good shape, so I want to re-stain and seal it. I'm wondering if we should bypass the stripping and go directly to the brightener and sealer? Also, would a water or oil based stain be best? Thanks.
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    The Sealer Store · 06/08/2015
    David, yes you want to brighten the same day as the pressure washing, while wood is still wet. Let dry for 48 hours before applying the stain.
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    David Grabowski · 06/07/2015
    Hello, Can I apply deck cleaner and power wash deck? After power washing and complete rinse, can I go ahead and apply brightener the same day? Also, after brightening and drying...how long is too long before applying stain?

    Thanks in advance for a reply!!
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    William Gick · 04/20/2015
    I have inside cedar (new wood) in a bathroom and purchased Defy Extreme Clear as a sealer for the test ratings against mildew, etc. Will this be sufficient to protect and how long should I let the cedar dry prior to sealing? It is clear 1x6 T&G.
    Do I really need to clear and brighten new wood as opposed to sanding?
    I saw where Western Red Cedar Assoc recommended sanding with 40 to 60 grit
    to remove mill face.
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    The Sealer Store · 10/14/2014
    1. No issues. Just wait until it dries.
    2. Better to brighten all at once when done with all stripping.
    3. 3 days should be good for drying before applying the stain.
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    BJ · 10/14/2014
    I'm using Restore A Deck stripper and brightener. Three Questions: 1) If it rains after the strip/brighten process, but before the stain has been applied, will that be a problem? I'm assuming the rain will not be dirty, and so I can just wait till deck fully dries and then apply stain. Right? 2) I'll be doing sections of a deck (strip/brighten, then strip/brighten adjoining section, etc.) I assume I should avoid placing stripper where I just stripped/brightened. But is a bit of overlap ok? 3) It's not hot summer, so will three days of dry weather be enough time to dry the wood... or should I just get a cheap water meter (do cheap ones work?) THANKS!
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    The Sealer Store · 09/27/2014
    Try washing with a pressur washer.
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    Duane · 09/26/2014
    Used a deck brightner after it dried there is a white film probably did not get all brightner off what can I do nowq
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    The Sealer Store · 10/08/2013
    Jan, several weeks could create issues. Best to stain within a couple of weeks after prepping so the wood does not oxidize again. You could just sweep or use a leaf blower to get off dirt.
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    Jan · 10/08/2013
    We are planning on using a combo cleaner/brightener on our redwood gazebo before re-staining. We may have to wait several weeks before we have a chance to get to the actual staining part of the job after completing the cleaning & brightening stage. I know the wood has to be completely dry when we stain, so I don't want to "rinse" any dirt off right before we start staining. Would it be OK to clean & brighten, let dry, wait a few weeks, then "brush or wipe" off any excess dirt, & then do the staining?
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    The Sealer Store · 08/02/2012
    I would use the Restore-A-Deck cleaner and brightener for both of these decks. As for a water based stain, I would look at the Defy Extreme Stain. Thanks
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    Lori · 08/01/2012
    Hi there: I could use some expert advice. #1: I have a 10 yr old redwood deck that is surrounded by a landscaped garden. It has only been treated with Thompson's water seal over the years. It is now pretty gray and I would like to pep it up a bit with a cleaner and/or brightener but I REALLY don't want to hurt the plants. What can I/should I use? #2: I also have a redwood roof deck that has been built over a brand new low slope modified bitumen roof. The deck is one year old and has not been treated to date. It is kind of dirty from fog and street dirt however it seems to lighten up a lot with just some scrubbing and plain water. What deck wash would be safe to use in this situation if water isn't quite enough? FYI - neither of these decks has a big mold problem, both are in San Francisco. Any recommendations on what to seal them with? I am not impressed with the Thompson's but I do like a natural look. I should probably also mention that the roof deck railings were treated last year with a water-based fire retardant product (Flamestop II). This may mean that only the deck surface can take an alkyd sealing product and, if so, what water-based product should I consider for the rails? Thank you so much for your help. Lori