It is well known that wood needs to be stained or sealed to preserve its beauty and protect it from harsh elements like water and UV rays. Natural unprotected wood is prone to mildew, cracking, warping and discoloring. In the long term, wood that is not shielded is vulnerable to wood rot and structural damage, which is inconvenient and costly. So we all agree that wood needs to be protected with some type of water repellant stain or sealer.
Prepping the wood prior to staining is just as important as staining the wood in the first place. A lack of proper wood prep is the number one reason a wood stain will fail prematurely. Wood stain has to be applied to wood that has been prepped correctly or it will be prone to mold, mildew, cracking and flaking. A lack of prep can also lead to a blotchy or inconsistent finish. The point is wood prep is the first step to staining wood.
What is needed to prep wood for staining is simple if you are educated about the process. You need a deck scrub brush or pressure washer. A quality wood and deck cleaner if the wood is just dirty or grayed. If an old failing stain is present then you may need a deck stain stripper in place of the wood cleaner. The goal is to thoroughly clean the wood to remove dirt, mold, mildew, graying and any old stain or sealer. Clean bare wood is the best surface to get the performance expected from the wood stain.
You also need a quality wood brightener. This is used after cleaning or stripping to neutralize the wood making it more acidic prior to staining. To apply the cleaner and brightener you will need a pump sprayer. So to summarize what is needed to prep wood for staining is a wood cleaner or stripper, wood brightener, deck brush or pressure washer, and a pump sprayer. You will also need a garden hose with fresh water to feed the pressure washer or to rinse if you are using a scrub brush to clean.