Deck care can be an art but it is one of those arts that anybody can master by following some simple guidelines. Deck care in general, refers to cleaning and staining wood on a regular basis. Typically a deck needs cleaned and retreated every year or two. A quality wood cleaner or stain stripper are essential in prepping the wood correctly prior to staining. Most professionals suggest using an oxygenated cleaner like Restore-A-Deck. RAD Step 1 Cleaner, RAD Deck Stain Stripper, as well as other cleaner/stain stripper brands, are high in pH and although they do a great job of prepping the wood they do not leave the wood in an ideal state.

Wood cleaners and stain strippers raise the pH level of the wood during the prepping process. This darkens the wood’s appearance and does not offer the perfect surface conditions for new stain to penetrate properly. In order to correct this issue, a deck brightener should be applied. This is step number two in the RAD kit. The brightener (also called a neutralizer) will lower the pH of the wood brightening it up again and helping to enhance the beauty of the wood grain. These acidic conditions open up the wood pores so they are more accepting of wood stain. These are the perfect conditions for a long lasting beautiful finish.

So the question is when to apply the brightener? Right away or let dry? Right away after cleaning is when to apply brightener. After washing the wood and rinsing well, mix the brightener up according to the directions. Apply with a pump sprayer and let it sit for several minutes. You should notice the wood brightening up right away. After the brightener has done its job simply rinse the deck again and then allow to dry for 48 hours before staining. It is best to always brighten when the deck is still wet from washing. Not brightening right away could cause wood furring. If the deck as been allowed to dry and brightened at a later time, the furring can always be sanded off prior to staining.

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  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Mark · 06/12/2018
    What is the minimum time from brightening to applying stain?

    On some places it says to wait 24 hours. On another place it says you can do everything (strip, brighten and stain) all in one day.
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      RAD Products · 06/12/2018
      This depends on the stain brand you are using? If the RAD stain, you can stain 2-4 hours after the prep is done on the same day. Other deck stain brands, you will need to wait 48 hours.
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    Greg · 06/07/2018
    Lots of great information here. We bought a house with a 20 year old deck that was last touched 20 years ago. I have replaced some of the boards. I pressure washed the old color away and now i am sanding the rest of the color away. We want to put a bew color on it. My question is whats next? I power washed and then sanded to get wood back to original color. Can i just brighten it now and then stain?
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    Martin · 05/26/2018
    My pine deck was put in last October and I did not stain right away based on the installer recommendation. I live in Greater Chicago so the deck has had virtually no use over the winter and spring.
    Now I want to stain the deck but because the wood is still very new is it necessary to use the prescribed cleaner and the brightener prior to staining?
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    Andy · 05/02/2018
    After proper prepping and drying how long a window to apply a stain? If I prep one weekend can I wait till the next weekend or two to stain without having to re prep other than blowing off surface dust or will I have to hose off? Thx
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    RAD Products · 09/01/2017
    Mike1:
    So the one step I missed was to rinse the step 2 brightener before it dried on my deck. After realizing this, I quickly used my garden hose to rinse the deck off. The deck is an 11 month old cedar which has never had stain on it. It now has some fuzzies in a few areas & some slightly milky colored spots near knots. Is this considered normal conditions after using the kit or did it not get rinsed good enough? I planned on staining after the 48 hour dry period. Will wood except stain if there's a bit of brightener left on the surface? I've got a small break in the weather window & want to get it done. Do you think I have the green light to apply my twp 101? I would attach a picture but there isn't an option via mobile.

    It is fine to stain. No issues.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Mike1 · 08/31/2017
    So the one step I missed was to rinse the step 2 brightener before it dried on my deck. After realizing this, I quickly used my garden hose to rinse the deck off. The deck is an 11 month old cedar which has never had stain on it. It now has some fuzzies in a few areas & some slightly milky colored spots near knots. Is this considered normal conditions after using the kit or did it not get rinsed good enough? I planned on staining after the 48 hour dry period. Will wood except stain if there's a bit of brightener left on the surface? I've got a small break in the weather window & want to get it done. Do you think I have the green light to apply my twp 101? I would attach a picture but there isn't an option via mobile.
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    RAD Products · 06/19/2017
    LarryR:
    Above you said the wood cleaner would raise the pH level "Wood cleaners raise the pH level of the wood during the cleaning process." Then later, I think this may be a misprint but you said the brightener would raise the pH, " The brightener (also called a neutralizer) will raise the pH of the wood brightening it up again and helping to enhance the beauty of the wood grain." Can you please clarify? Thanks.

    It lowers the pH. Typo.
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    LarryR · 06/19/2017
    Above you said the wood cleaner would raise the pH level "Wood cleaners raise the pH level of the wood during the cleaning process." Then later, I think this may be a misprint but you said the brightener would raise the pH, " The brightener (also called a neutralizer) will raise the pH of the wood brightening it up again and helping to enhance the beauty of the wood grain." Can you please clarify? Thanks.