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. Quality wood cleaners or stain strippers 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 the 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 for 20 minutes until all soap suds are removed. 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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    Tanis · 07/08/2021
    I have new raw red cedar fish scale wood shingles that are one year old but has been in a box in the garage so it has not seen any rain or sunshine. Do I still need to neutralize it first before using Arborcoat classic oil finish?
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    bill · 06/28/2021
    why not use a once combo cleaner/brightner instead of the two steps cleaner THEN brightner method
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      RAD Products · 06/29/2021
      It is not possible to have a combo deck cleaner and a wood brighener. A proper deck cleaner is mild caustic and raises the ph balance of the wood. A brightener being a mild acid will lower neutralize and lower the pH balance to neutral. Combining them would cancel each either out and the products would be useless. Any company that is stating their product both cleans and brightens at the same time is basically lying as it is not "chemically" possible to do both.
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    CJ · 06/21/2021
    After stripping my 43-year-old deck (it had only one coat of Sherwin Williams Deckscapes Semi-Transparent Stain 17 years ago) with Restore-A-Deck Stripper and a power washer, I rented a random orbital floor sander to sand the deck before adding the brightener. However, even though the sander would vibrate it wouldn't sand nor move an inch. It was as if the sander was glued to the deck! 
    So I decided to skip the sanding. I water-downed the south deck and used the Restore-A-Deck Brightener (the deck is around 3 sides of the house – north, east, and south). However, after this process, the south deck looked worse than before. The fuzzies had turned white as well as many of the deck boards. In addition, a few boards turned orange. It was a hot sunny day with temps in the low 90s.

    At this point, I'm trying to figure out what happened and what to do about it. I'm guessing that the brightener (and maybe the power washer) sucked the stripper that had soaked into the deck boards to the top. After applying the brightener, I spent a considerable amount of time first power washing and then hosing down the deck to remove all the suds. But as soon as the deck dried the white deck boards were obvious. This was a week ago. Since then we've had a couple of rains – a really hard downpour plus an all-day on and off rain. I think it's slightly less white now. The pictures were taken today a week later.

    I got a pole sander with 80 grit paper and was going to try that before I applied the brightener to the north deck. That would certainly help with the fuzzies, but if the stripper is coming to the top, it won't help that.

    Part of my problem is I don't know what to expect from the brightener. From the pictures, it wasn't what I was expecting.

    I'm really happy with how the deck looked after stripping for a 43-year-old deck.

    I'm planning on using TWP 101 Cedartone Stain.

    Your suggestion(s) would be appreciated.
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      RAD Products · 06/21/2021
      Your prep looks good, you just have a little bit of fuzzies. You can lightly pole sand or buff them off with a buffer and sanding pad and then you can stain.
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    j · 06/03/2021
    do I need to mask vinyl siding?
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      RAD Products · 06/03/2021
      From stain yes. Pre wet and rinse right away any over spray from prep products.
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        Justin · 06/03/2021
        no the product that this thread is about. Either of the two a concern?
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          RAD Products · 06/03/2021
          Pre wet and rinse right away any over spray from prep products that get on the vinyl
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    Jocelyn Oldham von Klein · 05/27/2021
    I’m confused when you say to rinse for 20 minutes. The whole project for 20 minutes (but this would depend greatly on the size of the project?)Or rinse Each section for 20 minutes? (But This could take hours?)
    Could you please clarify?
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    Joe · 05/15/2021
    Hi Folks, i have an 8 month old new & weathered cedar deck, installed last summer, weather over winter. cleaned, then brightened then RO sanded with 60 grit for fuzzy removal. Question: can i now stain (AC semi transparent) or is brightening recommended at this step prior to staining. if brightening what is the reason? thank you! 
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      RAD Products · 05/16/2021
      Clean and brighten the wood after sanding. This will open up the pores of the wood so the stain can soak in deeper.
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    Suzanne · 05/01/2021
    I cleaned and brightened the untreated floor of my deck 2 weeks ago with good results.  The posts and spindles had 2 coats of paint which required stripper and LOTS of hand sanding.  Now that I am ready to apply brightener to the posts and spindles the floor is lightly greyed. Should I clean and brighten the floor again before applying stain?
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      Justin · 06/03/2021
      if youre using a solid again i wouldnt see the need to brighten
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      RAD Products · 05/01/2021
      Just do a light clean and then brighten.
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    Brian · 04/21/2021
    Hello - 
    I applied cleaner and brightener to year old deck last year and then applied a coat of Armstrong Clark semi-transparent natural oak stain.  This year, the areas closer to the above ground pool need a fresh coat of stain, where the back areas of the deck seem like new.  I'm planning to just put a new coat of stain everywhere.  My question is, do I need to just clean the deck?  Or should I clean and brighten like I did with the unstained wood from last year?
    Thank you!
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      RAD Products · 04/21/2021
      Clean and brighten for best results.
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        Brian · 04/21/2021
        Even if there’s no mildew or graying of the boards? I would definitely power wash first...I’m applying the exact same stain (Armstrong Clark semi transparent natural oak). 
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          RAD Products · 04/21/2021
          Yes, it preps it best for proper penetration and adhesion.
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    Joe · 11/19/2020
    HELP! I cleaned my deck 4 weeks ago using "hit the deck" a pure oxygen cleaner to get rid of the grayness of my unstained deck caused by the sun. Results were ok but not great. Has it been to long to now apply the brightener? I know I should have done this sooner. I also have fuzzies in the grooves which I'm planning to painstakingly sand first.. Thanks
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    Cara · 10/25/2020
    Last year we used the RAD stripper, brightener, and stain. I think we did something wrong because it did not wear well. What do you recommend we do to correct?
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    Colin · 10/09/2020
    I accidentally got lots of brightener drips on my newly stained redwood siding. Can I strip the siding and redo it? Or should I wait a season? Would the brightened drips on the stain fade on their own over time by any chance?
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      RAD Products · 10/10/2020
      You would have to strip and redo to fix. It will not even out over time.
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    Jess · 09/22/2020
    Currently in the process of cleaning our new kiln dried cedar. It’s been weathered for 4 months. Noticing a lot of wood fuzzies... how should we proceed?
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      RAD Products · 09/22/2020
      Buff or sand them off.
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        Jess · 09/22/2020
        Awesome, thanks! Using Armstrong Clark semi trans in rustic brown to stain. Is it ok if we still see a little fuzz when we apply?
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    Nathan · 09/02/2020
    If I’ve followed all the proper prep to apply a transparent sealer or semi transparent sealer the first year, in the subsequent years can I just reapply the sealer or do I need to strip and brighten again?
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      RAD Products · 09/03/2020
      You will always have to prep when reapplying. Use the Cleaner and Brightener kit.
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    Sandra · 08/30/2020
    If I use cleaner, and it started to rain. And it looks like its gonna rain the next 2 to 3 days
    How long can I wait to use brightener. Also what happens if due to weather I can't stain deck what then?
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      RAD Products · 08/30/2020
      Brighten as soon as you are able. Stain within two weeks of the prep.
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    Mark · 08/28/2020
    After stripping and sanding, can I just vacuum remaining sawdust before brightening or should I rinse with water? I have an oscillating sander with dust bag.
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    Kat · 08/16/2020
    I didn't use the brightener because I had to wait 3 weeks to receive the stripper after I had already cleaned wit RAD cleaner. Is my deck wood okay at this point??
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      RAD Products · 08/16/2020
      You still need to brighten after the stripping. It will be fine.
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        Kat · 08/16/2020
        Ok, whew! Thank you :)
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    Sam · 08/12/2020
    Can I sand and brighten (after sanding) in the same day? This is new, untreated wood that is ready for staining.
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    Joanna · 08/12/2020
    Is brightener needed if I plan to use solid stain?
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    Jessica · 07/24/2020
    I've applied a stripper to my deck and power washed it off. There is still lots of paint left that needs to be sanded. Should I sand before I brighten, and then stain? Or should I brighten, then sand and then stain? Also, after I apply the brighter and hose it off, do I need to wait 24 hours before I stain/seal? Thanks!
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      RAD Products · 07/24/2020
      Sand first and then brighten the wood. As for when to stain after, that would depend on the stain you are using?
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    Steve · 07/19/2020
    Should I apply the brighter before or after sanding. My wood grain has "furred" (as expected) after stripping. TIA
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    Alex M · 07/18/2020
    Should i use a brightener after doing a mid-summer deck wash? (Not staining after)
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    Shan hose · 06/26/2020
    I have sanded my deck. Did not power wash. Do I need to use cleaner followed by brightener now? If I use cleaner, scrub it will that compromise sanding?
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      RAD Products · 06/27/2020
      Yes, use both cleaner and brightener. This helps to open up the pores of the wood after sanding.
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    Kim · 06/13/2020
    I applied the remove/stripper product about 2 weeks ago to my rough sawn cedar fences and did not apply brightener right away as we have had rain daily. Above it states to apply brighten right away after cleaning. What should I do now? We are still having daily rain. Our job is a very very large one and want to get it right. Thanks in Advance
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    sandra Baugh · 06/05/2020
    is there anything I can use to repair the damaged wood that will work?
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    sandra Baugh · 06/05/2020
    I have to repair some damaged wood on my deck with wood filler. I also have to brighten my deck before I stain it. Should I apply the wood filler before or after I brighten the deck? I'm afraid the water from brightening the deck will wash out the wood filler if I do before I brighten??
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      RAD Products · 06/05/2020
      Wood filler will not work on decks and will not "stain" to blend. Do not use it, it will look very bad.
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    sandra Baugh · 06/05/2020
    Will deck brightener remove the white oxidation spots on my wood
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    Mike · 06/05/2020
    I want to use this on a log cabin. They are cedar logs that have been weathered for about a year. There is no previous stains or sealent on it. Do I need the cleaner or just the brightener?
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    Terri · 05/25/2020
    it is taking forever to clean our deck. not being able to take off of work to have some consecutive days, and dealing with rain whenever it comes, makes this project seem to go on forever. so, my questions are as follows:
    1. if i cannot clean the whole deck in 1 day, is that an issue? ( as far as being able to immediately brighten ?)
    2. once the deck is cleaned, if I cannot brighten that day, and need to wait, is that an issue? what do i do if that happens?
    3. if i have to wait to stain days after brightening, is that an issue? and then what do i do? hose the deck down and wait 2-4 hrs to stain ?

    thanks of all your invaluable help? and i hope i am making sense...
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      RAD Products · 05/26/2020
      1. No.
      2. Brighten all a soon as you can.
      3. No issues. You can apply to dry or samp wood. It does not matter.
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    Mariea · 05/15/2020
    I’m thinking of renting a sander. Should I tighten the wood before or after sanding?
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    Mariea · 05/14/2020
    I stripped the deck late this afternoon, I have furring, It got dark and am unable to brighten today, Is it going to hurt anything to wait till tomorrow to finish brightening ??? IS there anything I should know before brightening? I do not have a floor sander,, any suggestions?