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
    Tony · 10/02/2019
    We have a Red Maranta deck that has grayed and lost its natural color of the wood. It turned grey. We rented a walk behind floor sander and sanded the entire deck with 120 grit sandpaper. Now, we want to stain it and bring the color back out. My landlord is a HUGE fan of Thompson's Water Sealer, but, we have told him time and time again, it's not the right product for this job especially since he invested almost $50,000 between 3 large decks. What would you recommend that will last a longer time and bring out the natural beauty of the wood? Thank You!
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    Bob · 06/07/2019
    Cedar deck was stained with Defy stain. Just cleaned deck using Scott's Oxi cleaner.I understand I need a deck brightner product to restore pH before touching up stain.
    Deck is approximately 500 sq ft
    What do you suggest in regard to how I should proceed? Also what would the cost be to ship product to Ottawa Canada?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      The Sealer Store · 06/07/2019
      Since this is a maintenance coat, you do not need a wood brightener.
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    Tony · 05/24/2019
    The weather this Spring has been wet, so hard to find a number of non-rainy days to clean, brighten, then stain my deck. I'd like to break it up into two operations: Clean/Brighten one day; Stain on another. My question then is, how long can the period be between cleaning/brightening and staining? I see from other answers, the recommended period is 48-72 hours. But the next 14 days doesn't look promising... Can I let it go longer in between? If so, what is the max suggested.
    - Thanks!
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    Richard Soltesz · 05/06/2019
    I just finished using Restore A Deck stripper (purchased from your website) on my older (25+ years) cedar deck. After I applied the stripper, I power washed the whole deck and there are still areas where the previous product (Behr semi transparent water based stain) was not completely removed. I intend to try to sand these areas as your website recommends. My question is should I sand these areas prior to using the Restore A Deck brightener and would I need any further prep to the sanded areas prior to using the brightener? Also, do I need to let the wood dry prior to using the brightener? Before I found your website, I had purchased 5 gal of Ready Seal Natural Cedar Stain and Sealer from Home Depot which I intend to apply (but I can return it). Would you have any suggestions for a stain and sealer?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      The Sealer Store · 05/06/2019
      Sand first than brightener to all after. That is all. We are not fans of RS. Fades fast. Try Armstrong Clark: https://www.opwdecks.com/armstrong-clark-stain.htm
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Richard Soltesz · 05/06/2019
        Thanks for your quick response. If after I sand those areas where the old stain remains and if I can't remove all the old stain, will it matter much when i apply the new stain ...other than being another color in those areas? I looked at the Armstrong Clark stains you recommended and the Chestnut semi-transparent looks like it would blend in and those areas are not in real noticeable places.
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          The Sealer Store · 05/06/2019
          It will most likely show through as different in color. Shoot for 95% removal or better. Chestnut would probably blend it so it does not show that much.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Mark · 03/13/2019
    I would like to prep my new Cedar deck to stain. Can you recommend the best cleaner to remove the "mill glaze" and brightener that I can purchase locally from a hardware store? I am in a bit of a rush and need this weekend.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      The Sealer Store · 03/13/2019
      Hello,

      We are in business to sell products from our website, not refer to local hardware stores. In addition, the products we offer are rated much higher than anything you can find at a local store.

      The best option is the Restore A Deck Kits: https://www.opwdecks.com/rad-300.htm
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Steve · 09/27/2018
    Where can I purchase wood deck cleaner, wood brightener and the proper final clear stain to retain the light color of the wood? I want to keep the wood as natural looking as possible. Thanks much!!!
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Steve · 09/26/2018
    After I clean and brighten my deck as you advised, what are good finishes to apply that would keep the treated wood as natural looking as possible? I don't want the wood to be a dark color. Thanks again, Steve
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      The Sealer Store · 09/27/2018
      Try TWP stains in the Honeytone or Defy Extreme in Natural Pine.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Steve · 09/26/2018
    Can I just wash my deck with soap and water and then apply wood brightener to lighten the color and then apply a natural wood finish?

    Thanks loads, Stevd
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      The Sealer Store · 09/26/2018
      No. You need a deck cleaner and then a wood brightener for prep.
  • 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.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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!!
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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.