Restore A Deck Cleaner Instructions and How To Tips
Keeping your wooden deck in good condition is without a doubt crucial to both its appearance and lifespan. Nothing looks worse and deteriorates more quickly than a neglected deck. Many deck owners have opted to do their own deck maintenance.
Restore A Deck cleaner is a specifically designed two-part system that is best used to clean and prep a wood deck prior to resealing it. The Restore A Deck cleaner system consists of a wood cleaner that will remove dirt, grime, mold, mildew, and grayed wood fibers. Step 2 of RAD Cleaner is a wood brightener that corrects the pH of the wood and brightens it up prior to applying a wood stain or sealer.
To clean a deck using the Restore A Deck system follow these easy step-by-step instructions.
1. Be sure air temperatures or between 45-90 degrees. Remove all furnishings from the deck and the surrounding area.
2. Though Restore A Deck is Eco-Friendly it is still a good idea to cover sensitive plants and shrubbery or pre-wet them with fresh water. Use plastic to cover doors and windows in the surrounding area.
3. Follow the Restore A Deck instructions to mix the Step 1 Cleaner in a clean bucket until all crystals are dissolved and transfer to sprayer to avoid clogging of sprayer inlet tube.
4. Lightly spray the wood deck with water. Use a pump sprayer or scrub brush to apply RAD Cleaner to the wood. Allow the cleaner to dwell for 5-15 minutes. Keep the deck wet by misting with water during the dwell time. If using a pump sprayer please make sure that no undissolved powder is poured into the sprayer. It will get clogged!
5. Hand scrub or use a pressure wash to remove dirt, grime, and graying from the wood surface. Do not use excessive pressure. Pressure washing at 1500 PSI is much more effective and easier.
6. Once cleaned, rinse the wood deck and the surrounding plants, windows, house siding, etc.
7. While the deck is still wet from rinsing, apply the Restore A Deck Wood Brightener (Step 2).
8. Blend the RAD Wood Brightener by following the product’s instructions and apply with a pump sprayer. Allow the brightener to dwell for 10 minutes then rinse off. No need to having scrub or pressure wash the RAD Brightener. Make sure to rinse the RAD Brightener thoroughly for 20 minutes until all soap suds are removed after the 10 minutes dwell time.
Note that the RAD cleaner is not intended for removing old deck stains or sealers. Please see Restore A Deck Stain Stripper when dealing with existing stains.
If you have any specific questions about your project or just need some help, please ask below!
if I don’t have a pressure washer, how do I apply the cleaner and then the brightener?
Apply with a pump sprayer, heavy scrub, and rinse when done.
sorry, I wan’t clear on my question—I have neither a pump sprayer nor a power washer…can I use a big sponge?
Yes but much easier to buy a pump sprayer for applying. They are fairly inexpensive.
Let me make sure I got this right. Using the Restore-A-Deck cleaner, you first lightly spray the deck with water, then apply the dissolved cleaner using the hand pump sprayer, then wait 5-15 minutes before using the scrub brush to clean. Is this correct? Call me stupid if you wish 🤔
Yes, except pressure wash off is the preferred and easier method. Brightener goes on after.
I live in south Georgia. Summer temps here are 60’s and 70’s overnight …. and 80’s and 90’s during the day. I see that the recommended temperature for applying the cleaner/brightener is between 45-90 degrees. Is there any leeway in that temperature requirement? As I mentioned, we will often hit 95 degrees at mid-day or late afternoon.
If you keep the wood wet while using the prep products, you can apply them in higher temps.
I have used your semi transparent products for a few years on my decks. I refinished this deck 2 years ago. It is not looking good at all now. Why do you think it has deteriorated so much and what are your suggestions?
It is normal to have to prep and recoat every 2-3 years. Use the Cleaner an Brighener Kit and pressure washing for prep.
do i have to strip deck or can i stain over this. it’s your product i put on last year
Use the Cleaner and then recoat. You could also wait until next year.
can i restain with your product without stripping from year to year
Whenever recoating you need to cleanr for prep but you do not have to strip.
We have stain our deck 3 years ago with RAD semi-transparent walnut stain. We would like to recoat the deck this year. I was wondering if we have to do the cleaner and the brighter or just the cleaner before recoating? Thanks !
Clean and brighten.
Okay…when recoating, should I do one or two coats?
Proabbly two light coats applied wet on wet:
Can the cleaner be used just to clean off the grime?
Only use the Cleaner if you plan on recoating. For dirt, just use some warm water and dish soap.
UGH. I called the toll free number while I was waiting for your reply and I was told the opposite: that the cleaner can be used just to clean! I ordered from Canada and with exchange and shipping the total came to just over $100. I received the supplies I need to strip, brighten and stain last week and now I have the cleaner coming that will be useless.
You can cancel the order. Thanks
I just did the whole process on my deck and steps last year and used the TWP stain. The deck surface and steps didn’t hold up well through a buffalo winter and need to be done again. Do I just powerwash and put down more TWP or do I have to go through the whole cleaner/brightener process again?
Use the prep products while pressure washing.
I used the stripper/brightener and stain on the deck. Now I want to do the fence and railing nearby. The stain is in pretty good shape there, I think I can clean and brighten without the stripper. The stain is still visible but is fairly consistent on the uprights. the horizontal pieces show more graying but I cannot possibly get inside the uprights to scrub. If I clean and brighten with some stain left from before, am I making a mistake?
What brand is the prior stain? It has to come off if a different brand.
Benjamin and Moore, semi transparent oil based
Whenever you switch brands of stain you have to remove the old coating.
We have a deck with pressure washer marks. Will this product get rid of them?
No. The only way to get rid of this is to power sand the entire deck evenly to remove.
We have a pressure treated wood deck in northern Wisconsin. We stripped, sanded and stained (PPG ProLuxe Transparent) the deck in June this year. We were thinking about putting another stain coat on for extra protection in the next couple weeks before winter sets in.
1. Would applying another coat make sense?
2. If we apply another coat, would prep be just a light washing and stain, brightener and stain, or cleaner, brightener and stain?
More is not better so leave it as is.
I have a large deck. Can I use both products all the way through on a section and then go on to another section? Will it show where I stop one section and start the next?
Clean all first and then brighten all last if the deck is all connected.
I have been puzzled by this…Applying cleaner to whole 950 sq ft deck, keeping it all wet, pressure washing with Powerwasher 1500HD takes a few hours; meanwhile I need to keep it wet the whole time for next step, which takes longer than time I am supposed to start rinsing it off. The same problem exists for the second step. The rinsing here also gets delayed while finishing the application and waiting for it to bubble. Struggling with what the priorities should be re timing. Had similar trouble with stripping, not to mention that powerwashing has not seemed to work as well as scrubbing. No doubt I am doing something wrong.
Wife says need to keep deck damp after using cleaner until we put the brightener on. Can we let the deck after using the cleaner sit overnight then dampen in the morning before putting the brightener on?
Best to apply right after cleaning while wood is damp.
We recently redid our 25 year old deck with kiln dried wood flooring /steps and an aluminum railing system. Will be using RAD deck cleaner, brightener, and stain. Will the deck cleaner and brightener damage the posts (black aluminum) where they attach to deck boards or should we cover them prior to application? Also, do we need to cover our house siding that is in contact with the deck boards? Thanks.
They should not harm them but always test spot first. As for siding, it depends on what it is made of and the coating on it.
I plan on using RAD on my pool deck. Should I be concerned about any cleaner or brightener getting into the pool?
Wash away from pool when cleaning as best as you can. Check pH level of pool when done as you may need to balance it.
I am in a water critical area. If I use a pressure washer to rinse off the brightener doi still have to rinse 20 minutes? I don’t think it would take that long to get rid of all soap suds.
Yes, you need to make sure all is rinsed well.
If I’m putting on a new coat of the same stain, should use stripper or cleaner?
If the finish is damaged from sun and weather or stained from spotted lantern flies in some places is the cleaner still sufficient?
If there is some damage from sun and weather and spotted lantern flies in some places is the cleaner sufficient or is better to use the stripper then?
Strip and brighten then.
is there guidance on how to know when to use cleaner and when to use stripper?
Sure, just ask or post pics. Every scenario is different.
Here are some pics. Your can see the main floor is in pretty good condition but there one spot with more weather damage. With the cleaner do you actually remove the old stain or no?
We would strip and brighten this one to ensure the new stain applies evenly. You have a lot of dirt/grime so some stain may come off unevenly if you just use the cleaner.
I have some 8×8 pressure treated vertical and horizontal beams on my porch that are pretty black with what I assume is mold. Will the Step 1 cleaner handle cleaning that mold with pressure washing or do I need something else?
Here is a picture
It should work well but the one issue is that it looks like you have a stain on it and the mildew may be embedded in the stain.
It’s never been stained. This will be the first time. I’ll give the cleaner a shot and see how it goes.
I will be cleaning and brightening my deck tomorrow and then staining six days later with TWP 1500. Two days after my Cleaning and brightening there is rain/ very light snow in the forecast. Is this going to ruin my cleaner and brightener steps?
No, just let it dry for 48 hours after before staining.
I have another question. I might need to replace the railing wood. If so I understand I need to let the wood weather. After several months of weathering I would clean and brighten the new wood? Then stain? Would I have to also clean and brighten and re stain the deck floor. The stain on the existing deck floor is TWP 1500
It would be best and easiest to do it all at once so as to not harm the flooring that is stained.
I cleaned and brightened my cedar deck using Restore A Deck and am now ready to apply stain. The day following cleaning and brightening it started to rain and the forecast is for daily rain for the next week. Do I need to wait for two consecutive dry days before applying stain? Do I need to clean and brighten again before applying stain?
Depends on what stain brand you are using?
I’m using TWP 1501 Cedartone stain.
Wait 48 hours after prep or rain before staining. If longer than 2 weeks after prep, redo by washing and brightening the deck.
I need to do my 2 year maintenance cleaning and re-staining of my deck. I will be using same color, How long after I clean and brighten my deck with the RAD products, do I need to wait before applying RAD semi transparent stain.
You can apply the RAD Stain to dry of damp wood: https://www.restore-a-deck.com/Deck-Cleaning-Reviews-and-Tips/how-to-restore-a-deck-stain-to-damp-wood.html
If I like the color of our ipe siding – as-is. Can I just clean it and reply with a new coat of transparent protector?
No, that is not possible. To prevent graying you must have a tinted stain and that means the color will be enhanced based on the color you choose.
How much cleaner powder make one gallon if I use a measuring cup
6-8 oz of powder by volume.
i stained my deck last year with twp. Can i just use the restore-a-deck cleaner and brightener and re-stain the deck with twp?
Yes, that is correct.
What do I do if I finished Step 1 cleaning of my deck, but have waited do the brightening/PH balancing Step 2? My deck is large and it was too difficult for me to finish both steps in one day. Have I completely blown it?!
No, but it is always best to brighten the same day as cleaning. If you could not do it, you should still brighten the wood when you can.
We need to stain our untreated rough-sawn pine shed/studio. In the few months of its existence it has grayed and countless storms splashed mud up the sides. How do I tackle this? Freaking out a bit because I don’t want to use harsh chemicals and the advice I’m getting is conflicting. Thanks.
Prep with the Restore A Deck Cleaner and Brightener Kits. Stain with the RAD semi-transparent stain after.
We just cleaned our deck using RAD cleaner and neutralizer and looks great… We have lots of both leftover so we are wondering if we should keep it for future cleaning after we stain the deck using RAD solid stain. It may be overkill but just curious, is it acceptable to use these products for general cleaning in the future even if we are not retaining?
Also one other question – what is the proper way of disposal for any leftover RAD cleaner and neutralizer?
Thanks in advance! Scott
The cleaner has a shelf life of about 4 hours after being mixed. If not mixed with water, they will both last a couple of years or longer.
PS – Apologies, just wanted to clarify – the ingredients I am referring to in both questions above are the unmixed powders… Thanks in advance!
We only sanded and stained half our mahogany deck last summer. We used Armstrong Clark stain. We’re sanding the other half this summer and wonder if we need to cover last years work when we clean and brighten newly sanded section. Also, can we simply just wash with water after sanding and go straight to staining the bare wood and skip the cleaner and brightener?
You should avoid the prep from getting on the stained half and you do need to clean and brighthen.
Hello, I am planning to use RAD semi-trans stain on my redwood deck ~3 yrs old. About 2.5 yrs ago, 1 coat of Thompson’s Water Seal (clear) was applied. Deck is in full sun, does not appear to be resisting any water these days. Do you think I need to use stripper first, or can i just clean and brighten then stain?
Also, if I need to strip it, do i need to cover my adjacent stucco house wall? It’s parex stucco.
You will need to remove the Thompsons fully. Please posts some pictures here in the comments for prep help.
Ok thank you, so if i strip should i cover the stucco? also, do i need to cover the steel balusters?
Use the RAD Stripper and Brightener kit for prep. Best to cover the stucco to be safe.
Currently sanding our redwood deck, then will apply cleaner followed by brightener, followed by a semi-transparent mahogany stain. Can the cleaner and brightener be applied from the mix bucket with a rag or brush or is a sprayer necessary?
Spray on and then pressure wash off is the correct way.
We just finished the RAD cleaner and brightener and we’re letting it dry the 48 hours before staining. We have a couple light dirty shoe marks and bird poop that have gotten on our deck during that 48 hrs. Can we just spot clean with water and a rag?
I am going to use RAD Cleaner and Brightner after sanding my Red Bhatu Mahogany deck. With possible rain showers in the area off and on over the next two weeks I need to find 2 drying days after cleaning and brightening and then 24 hours of dryness for the Armstrong Clark Stain to dry. IF it showers after the clean/brightening what then, do I need to reclean and brighten? How long can I leave the clean brighten. before I stain? Can I clean and brighten 1 day then stain a week later if there are showers in between?ThanksDH – Canada
No, you do not need to reclean. Just let it dry for 48 hours after prep or rain before you stain. A week later is okay.
How well does RAD semitransparent stain perform on 3 month old pressure treated wood without cleaning or brightening?
You have to prep and cannot skip the steps.
We stained our deck floor last June with RAD Solid. The railings and posts were replaced at the same time. I want to stain the rails and post but am concerned that it will damage the beautiful finish on the floor boards. Will it damage the floor? How can I prevent this? Plastic sheeting seems like it might trap the cleaner/brightener when I am rinsing.
It should not harm the solid stain on the floor. Prewet and rinse well any over spray.
in sept 2019 to my 15 year old untreated deck using all your products i cleaned, then brightened, and applied two coats semi transparent dark walnut, with semi cedar on border. Did not overcoat it. Looked great (see pix), but 6 months later when i washed it with dawn dish soap it seemed like it washed or lightened the stain out in some spots (not all, just some.) And its worse now (2nd pix) What went wrong? Now i want to fix it, what should i do? i want to apply same color and product. No need to strip first? only clean and not brighten? one or two coats? help! don’t want to repeat any mistakes. i followed all your instructions the first time.
Use the RAD cleaner and then pressure wash. Brightener after. Apply one coat of the RAD Stain. it is normal to have to re-coat every 2 years.
thanks. Why do i have to use the brightener again? Is dawn dish soap a safe product to use to clean it next spring? if not, what is a safe cleaning product i can use next spring after i’ve done this maintenance coat this summer?
You always have to brighten after you clean to neutralize. Just use water to clean with a little bit of dish soap. Not anything too strong or aggressive.
but in your instructions it says that if you are applying a maintenance coat you only have to clean and not brighten it-so i am confused why you are suggesting i need to use the brightener again. please clarify and explain why you are suggesting something different than the instructions. thanks
It is used to neutralize the cleaner when you have bare wood as you do.
How do you remove the white plastic ring from the top of the one-gallon stain can?
It pops off. Just pry inwards.
I did step one cleaner in overcast conditions, and now it’s turned to full, hot sun. How soon does step 2 brightener have to be applied?
Same day for best results. Just mist with water first.
Does step 2 also need to be rinsed off before it dries?It’s 88°, with 1/3 of the deck in full sun. ?
Yes, and thoroughly as well. Just mist it with water while rinsing. It is easy.
I cleaned and brightened my 1 yr old redwood deck with RAD. I used a soft bristle brush and pressure washer with the cleaner. The deck looked great after I cleaned it, however when I started to stain it with Armstrong Clark Sierra Redwood Semi-Transparent Stain I noticed some boards had areas looked blotchy. Upon closer inspection there were other boards that had this appearance after the cleaning and brightening. Do you have any suggestions on how to prevent this appearance on the boards I haven’t stained yet?
Redo the brightener. See if that helps.
I would like to stain this fence. I have enough TWP 100 cedartone stain to do the job. Where do I begin?
Prep with the Restore A Deck Cleaner and Brightener kits while pressure washing.
do I need to cover the painted metal spindles of my deck railing when using the cleaners and brighteer?
In most cases, not but always test spot first.
I put a new deck on last year with a semi-transparent stain. I would like to put a fresh semi-transparent stain on this year. How do I determine whether to use the RAD stripper or RAD cleaner? Thanks,Mike
In most cases, use the Cleaner. You would strip if it was uneven. Brightener after.
2 questions Do you rinse the brightner with a pressure washer or garden hose Will the cleaner and brightener damage a marble insert we have in the decking
Pressure washer. Not sure about the marble. Probably not but best to cover just in case.
We installed a new deck June last year and a friend advised us to apply superglue on the knots and cracks. Will the cleaner be enough or should we use a stripper?
That was not a very helpful friend! Sorry, but not sure if either will remove it. You may need to sand it out.
what happens if the cleaner dries before washing it off? Also, is there any expiration on the cleaner if it is kept in the bag?
Mist it with water to keep it wet while working. 24 months for shelf life.
Do I need to tape off metal balisters on my railing or does the products not harm powder coated metal?
Teh prep products should not harm but alwasy test spot first.
I have two 400 sf decks one above the other. We recently purchased the 18 year old house in Bend, OR and I believe it has the original decks. The climate here is high desert with little rain and 300 days of sunshine. The 1st picture shows the lower deck which doesn’t look like its has been sealed (water sits, but doesn’t bead). The 2nd picture shows the Upper Deck with an unknown sealer on it and the water beads. SORRY PICTURES WOULDN’T UPLOAD.
I bought the cleaner, brightener and semi-transparent natural stain. After reading more on your website, it appears I must strip the sealed upper deck with before cleaning, brightening and staining.
Since the working on the upper deck will drip down on the lower deck, what is your recommendation for the order in which I should refinish? The upper deck is the one most used and visible.
We would need to see pictures for prep help. If they did not load the file size was too large. Try saving as smaller. Always start from the top, then down.
I have a deck that I plan on using the RAD solid stain on. I’ve already sanded it completely, removing old peeling behr deck-over that was on it. I plan on using the RAD cleaner on it next. Will I still need to use the brighter as well even though I’ll be coating it with solid stain after, which would hide the brightened wood? Or is this still necessary to assure a proper surface for the stain to work into?
It always helps to neutralize a deck cleaner or deck stripper with the brightener, so there are not any issues with chemical reactions with the stain.
I cleaned, brightened, and applied the Dark Walnut semi-transparent stain last year. If I understand correctly, I can apply a maintenance coat this year, instead of stripping it and starting the process all over. Is that correct?
Correct. Damp though, not wet.
We stained And sealed our deck a year ago but the moisture this summer created a mold and black stains on our deck. We plan on just cleaning the deck and to remove dirt and black mold stains as the deck stain is in good shape. Are we good to use the cleaner and brighter if we plan to not stain again?
No, the RAD prep products are only to be used for when you are recoating.