Restore A Deck Prep and Staining Steps

We understand that everyone needs help with their wood/deck restoration and that not all projects are the same. Different species of wood, the age of wood, and types and brands of previous coatings make it difficult for homeowners to determine what is needed to restore their exterior wood or deck correctly.

We will ask some specific questions and reply to what you will need to do in your restoration process and the appropriate products and amounts to purchase, so it receives the proper prep and treatment required.

In the comment section below, you must include:

  • Square Footage of Area to be Restored:

-For Decks, use the calculator in the right column (scroll down) for desktop or below this article/comments on mobile

-Fences: Length x Height x 2 (for both sides) = Total square footage

-Homes: Do each side Lenght x Height, then add up all sides.

  • Type of wood if known:
  • Approximate Age of Wood:
  • If Applicable, Previous Stain Brand Used and Type (Examples of Type: Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Solid Stain, Oil-Based, Water-Based): 
  • If Applicable, When was the last time wood was stained:
  • Wood Type to be Stained (Deck, House, Fence, etc.):
  • Do you have access to a pressure washer:
  • Miscellaneous Info:
  • *Must Include 1-3 Photos of Restoration Project. There is a link to upload photos in the bottom right corner of the comment area.

Restore A Deck Stain Application Tips

 

 

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  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    RayL · 05/27/2022
    Sorry for the continued questions.  Thirty five year old deck, boards cracked but otherwise sound.  Stripped with RAD stripper and sanded with 60 grit sandpaper due to roughness.  Plan to use RAD brightener and then semi transparent stain.  Question--Plan on one or two coats (is there a reason that one option is better than the other?)  and second,  I see cautions not to use too much stain.  How do you know when stain is enough or too much.  Also, how much stain is needed for this 500 sq ft deck.  Thanks again.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/27/2022
      Newer wood or less absorbent wood means that one coat is better. Dried-out wood can take two. You are borderline as you sanded. A finer grit and we would say only one coat. if in doubt, less is better. You can always add a light coat in 6-12 months.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        RayL · 05/27/2022
        In twelve months, will I need to apply the cleaner before the second coat?  thanks
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    GGyssler · 05/27/2022
    Hi, I installed new cedar boards on an old substructure 1 year ago. I will be staining those boards for the 1st time shortly. Do I need cleaner and brightener for the 1st time or just power wash surface/
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Frank Pontoriero · 05/27/2022
    Hi RAD - I have several questions regarding my upcoming staining project this week. I ordered the stripper, brightener, and semi-transparent stain a year ago to re-do an old swingset (unopened) and am finally getting around to it: 1) There's mold/mildew on the swingset. Should I powerwash it first before going through the steps, or just apply the stripper and then powerwash it all off? 2) Can I use any Chapin sprayer for the stripper/brightener, or do I have to use the Stain N Seal model? 3) For the wet on wet 2 coat process, the second coat needs to be applied after 20-60 minutes. What if it takes longer than 60 minutes from the beginning of applying the first coat? Do I just spray the surface with water again and then apply the second coat? 4) This is a detail job with multiple vertical/small surfaces. What do you recommend as the applicator, pad/brush/sprayer, etc? 5) In terms of the approach, I read that vertical surfaces should be stained first, then horizontal. for the swingset, should i just start top to bottom, regardless of vertical vs. horizontal? 6) I have to do some sanding and read to use 60-80 grit, nothing highter. At what point do i do this? Before stripping/brightening or afterwards? 7) Basic question, but where do you recommend I mix the stain? in a bucket or tray? 8) I have and oak tree, crape myrtle and pine right next to the set. Do i need to wet these before starting so that the products don't damage them? THANK YOU!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/27/2022
      1. Apply stripper and then pressure wash off.
      2. Any quality pump sprayer will work.
      3. Make sure to not exceed 60 minutes so if needed, break it up.
      4. Stain pads and brushes.
      5. Top to bottom.
      6. After the prep is done. 
      7. Buckets or tray will work. Shake stain in containers first for 60 seconds to mix before pouring the stain out.
      8. No
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Melissa · 05/27/2022
    Hello, just want to mention your product is awesome!!! I used your full step process 3 years ago on my deck to remove old semi-transparent stain by sanding it all off, and applied your solid stain two-toned on my deck.  Now three years later I need to do another coat due to very minor stripping and algae build up on the railings.  What steps should I follow to apply the solid white stain on the railings and solid color stain on the floor boards, so I continue to have great results with your products on my deck?  What is the shelf life of your products as well? Thanks again!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/27/2022
      Prep with the RAD Wood Cleaner and pressure washing and then recoat.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Melissa · 05/28/2022
        Ok so no brightner? How long after cleaning and pressure washing can I apply the stain? 
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          RAD Products · 05/28/2022
          No need for the brightener when recoating with the solid stain.
          • We will reply to your comment shortly
            Melissa · 05/31/2022
            How long after using the RAD wood cleaner and pressure washing can I apply the stain? What is the shelf life of your products opened and unopened? Thanks again!
            • We will reply to your comment shortly
              RAD Products · 05/31/2022
              You can apply later the same day or the next day after prep. Just cannot be applied to a visibly wet deck. Unopened, 36 months. Opened 12 months.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Ed · 05/27/2022
    First attempt and some important lessons learned but now going to do over. We have a Pressure treated deck that was new in Sept. 2020. It got really weathered and gray. We just sanded down with 60 then 80 grit and cleaned and brightened. It look great like new wood but with still a little stubborn gray here and there.  We applied light walnut semi transparent and dark walnut around the border. We did the dark walnut first and though we wet it to apply damp the sun was pretty intense and started to dry so in trying to smooth it ended up really dark on the first boards. The rest is only one coat so it is much lighter. The light walnut went on much better as we kept it damp and the sun was not as intense.  Though the stain itself went on nicely and has a nice rich appearance, it is a lot more orange and darker than the samples we initially tested (more orange in person than pics). Really can't tell the difference between the Cedar and the Light Walnut. This also clashes with the Dark Walnut. We aren't complaining at all as the stain is great but we do plan to strip and redo it in another color.

    1. Is there any difference or advantage between stripping now or waiting until the fall? Does it continue to cure over time?  Do we need the additives or just the stripper?
    2. Any idea if we did something wrong in the application to make it more dark and orange? First coat damp, waited 20 min or so and applied lighter second coat with stain brush. (We know what we did wrong with the Dark Walnut trim)
    3. Do we just need to strip and brighten and then re-stain? (no more sanding)
    4. Can I mix stain colors to create my own color. Say a little Dark Walnut mixed into Natural semi-transparent.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/27/2022
      1. Easier in the Fall or next Spring. Additves will help.
      2. Hard to say but it seems the darker side may have dried faster causing the second coat to sit more on the surface.
      3. Yes.
      4. Yes.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Ed · 05/27/2022
        Thank you
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Ryan Smith · 05/26/2022
    Want to restore my deck, some areas have stain and some no longer do. Want brighten and seal with oil base. What products do I need to strip and brighten the deck and railings?
    Size: a little over 300 sq ft
    Type of wood: Cedar Decking
    Age: 12 years (three boards are new, replacing at the same time as redoing deck).
    Stain: Behr Semi Transparent
    Estimated time since last stain about 10 years
    Have access to pressure washer
    Thank you for your help on this.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Rachel · 05/26/2022
    Hi, used your process a few years ago on cedar deck.  Time for a redo…most of the stain is gone from floor, but remains on rails. I want to go from the natural color to the cedar color.  Do i need to strip or just clean/brighten?   
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    Gary Jannarone · 05/26/2022
    How long after I order your product does it take to have it delivered?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/26/2022
      Depends on where you live?
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Gary Jannarone · 05/26/2022
        I'm in New Jersey. I ordered your product yesterday, two 5 gallon combo packages, so what is the time frame for delivery?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Erika Romine · 05/25/2022
    I sanded and stained my deck with this product last Summer. By fall, it was starting to fail and the other photo is from January. We get a lot of rain and it stays wet from November to June. I want to try again this Summer and have it last. 
    I'm not sure if I should take the Stripper and Brightener, or the Cleaner and Brightener route. I plan to sand again as well. Based on how the deck looks now, I think my pressure washer will take off most of the product from las year.
    Finally, is it better to use the solid stain for water resistance, or is the semi transparent the best choice?
    Thank you!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/26/2022
      You already have a solid stain so you will need to stick with the RAD Solid stain unless you want to power sand all your current stain off. For prep for the solid stain, you want to remove all the loose and peeling stain so you can cover the intact stain that is not peeling. This would be a combo of stripping and pressure washing followed by spot sanding. Brightener last.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    RayL · 05/25/2022
    Does the RAD semi-transparent stain require a sealer or protective coat? How about the solid stains?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/25/2022
      No and you cannot apply a sealer over a stain like this.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Jeff Shellhammer · 05/24/2022
    10  Months ago I applied Flood stain (mistake) to new cedar.  It has not weathered well. Here are pictures of cleaned horizontal surfaces.  Do I need to do anything more than apply the RAD stain I have ordered to these?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Hackett · 05/24/2022
    Will the cleaner or brightner harm metal ballusters?  What about the semi-transparent stain? Pic attached.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/24/2022
      They will not harm the metal spindles. Only use the prep products if you are restaining.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Hackett · 05/24/2022
        Using cleaner then brightner on deck that has never been sealed/stained (diff than pic which shows type of metal ballusters). Pressure treated wood  that is about 2 years old. Will the semi-transparent stain (natural color) harm the metal ballusters? 
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          RAD Products · 05/24/2022
          The stain will not harm the metal but it should be avoided to get on them so it does not look messy.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Pat · 05/24/2022
    Oh dear.. Don't know how to do that.  I will have to wait until kids or grandkids come one of which might be able to come tomorrow who is techhie. And do you recommend where to buy products and how long does it take for delivery?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/24/2022
      You can buy directly from our website. Delivery timing depends on where you live.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Pat · 05/24/2022
    Ok I'm ready to get serious about this.  My deck is 30 years old. Mainly in shade in summer from trees. In pretty good shape, so I want to restore it not tear down. In reading i gather that you recommend stripper and brightener for old decks. And 2 coats of stain. Now I'm confused about choice of stains; oil or water and color.  i don't want red which I gather is cedar; opaque or transluscent?  I'm wondering if I should clean and brighten first to see the color underneath.  Going to have sons help me so I don't want to tie them up too much. Would prefer to do it all in one day.  I would be happy with a brown or grey tint.  Just not that orange/red.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/24/2022
      Hi Pat,

      Please post some pics so we can offer prep and stain advice.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Pat · 05/24/2022
        Ok here are the pics. One long look, one close up and one with railing to show color of railing
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          RAD Products · 05/25/2022
          Strip and brighen for prep. Try Dark Walnut color for a brown that is not red or orange.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    David Schofield · 05/23/2022
    I stripped, brightened and refinished the deck last year. Unfortunately we had a short surprise rain before it was fully dried. There seem to be some "blotches" where the finish was not able to soak in. Do I need to re-prep the entire deck or should I apply the finish to those areas )or even the whole deck. The areas that did not seems to be affected appear to be fine. Thanks
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/24/2022
      You cannot spot fix so you would have to prep and redo all.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Aaron LeClair · 05/23/2022
    What would you recommend on a 7 year old redwood deck as far as using a cleaner or stripper? I’m not sure if it’s been stained before. I just bought the house. Also I don’t want it any redder then it is naturally. Will you recommend just a semi transparent stain? The upper and lower deck is 550 sq feet not including the railings. How much of the cleaner or stripper and brighter and stain will I need? Thanks 
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Craig · 05/23/2022
    I've used the RAD system for the past 2 years and have been thrilled with how easily a small deck can be finished in a single day.

    First year existing stain was stripped, brightened and stained. We ended up with some blotches after 8 months but nothing too concerning.

    Last year I cleaned, brightened and stained. It lasted extremely well for the first 7 months until the snows came. We had continued cold weather which included periods of heavy rain and snow for the next 3 months. There is a drip line on the deck where the stain has worn away where rain repeatedly froze. This drip line is where water from a short awning over part of the deck lands (DripLine photo).

    There is also one spot which has worn away from repeated overflow of a low spot on a gutter (PuddleBlotch photo))

    I'll be doing another cleaning/ stain application this year. Does this wearing away of stain indicate I should be doing something differently this year other than another cleaning/ staining?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/23/2022
      It looks over-applied. Best to strip it down this time and then brighten the wood.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Craig · 05/23/2022
        Thank you!
        Wow, over-applied? And I was concerned I was putting it on too lightly last year.
        I'll try the strip/bright/ stain approach this year and be even more conservative in application. 
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Pat · 05/23/2022
    I don't have a sprayer to apply Brightener and Booster . Can I apply with sponge type floor applicator  (squeagy-type) and bucket of water
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/23/2022
      It really needs to be sprayed for the best results. You can pick up a pump sprayer at any garden or home center.
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    Geoff C · 05/23/2022
    We have a large deck which was sealed with Thompsons water seal 3 years ago.  I used a hydrocarbon cleaner (from Earth Smart Solutions) and a power washer to remove the seal.  The deck still feels squeaky when we walk on it.  Part of the deck is covered and not exposed to the elements.  We live in Michigan.  I want to stain the deck with your stain but am not sure if I need to redo the removal of the Thompsons seal?  Also we have a bench which was stained and coated with polyurethane and it is peeling and some of the stain has worn off and needs to be redone.  Should I strip the bench? I have tried to sand the poly off but it seems like it would take a long time and much effort.  
    We also have a deck that was covered with a solid stain and peeled almost immediately after it was applied.  I have sanded some areas and power washed it but a large amount of stain remain of the wood.  Do I need to completely strip this deck to apply your stain?
    Thanks, Geoff  
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/23/2022
      For the poly, you will have to sand that off. It can not be stripped. Same with the solid stain. It has to be sanded off if you want to use the RAD Semi-transparent stain. If you do not want to sand, then you can use the RAD Solid Sain over your old solid stain that is intact and not peeling. 
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        RAD Products · 05/23/2022
        Strip and brighten the wood that had the Thompsons.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Steve Plantz · 05/23/2022
    How soon after putting a coat of your natural semi transparent stain on can I put a second coat?
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    Glen Feltner · 05/21/2022
    I put one coat of RAD semi transparent stain on my deck after stripping/sanding/brightening a different product.  It could use another coat.  How long do I need to wait to reapply since it is too late to apply a 2nd coat per the instructions 
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/21/2022
      6-12 months and clean off any dirt prior to recoating.
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    Beth D · 05/20/2022
    Deck Info:
    - About 200 sq ft
    - Cedar deck
    - Built last May 2021
    - Hasn’t been stained yet
    - South facing/full exposure deck in the PNW (we live on a hill and get the full force of the weather all times of the year)
    - Planning on using the cleaner, brightener, and stain

    We’re having trouble deciding between Armstrong Clark or Restore-a-Deck. We prefer a more natural look. We originally decided on the AC Cedar Tone Transparent but worry it doesn’t offer enough sun protection. We left our AC sample boards out all year and have seen mixed results. Some showed wear and others just faded on both transparent and semi-transparent. After some more research we saw great reviews on RAD (just ordered samples today) and thought maybe it seemed like a good alternative. Is one better over the other for our location? (Full exposure to sun, wind, rain, snow)

    Also, will the stain stick to metal hardware on the railing? Is it something you just wipe off afterward or do we need to tape them off?

    Our deck is just now a year old and hasn't been stained - should we do 1 or 2 coats?

    Thank you!!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/21/2022
      We would suggest the RAD Stain in either Cedar or Natural color. Proabbly two light coats applied wet on wet since the wood looks very dried out. Stain around the metal. Easier that way. if you get a few drips on it, then wipe right away.
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    Jeffrey Councilman · 05/18/2022
    Can I mix Outlast NBS30 insect repellent in restore-a-deck semi-transparent stain? They say it mixes with water base stains.
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    Sean S · 05/18/2022
    New house.  The deck has weathered 10 months now - pressure treated pine - definitely ready for stain.  roughly 1100 sq ft of deck with half under cover with a hot tub on it.  Also will need to stain the structure under the deck which is two stories tall. 

    Can I put two coats of stain on now, or do one now and one in a year?  Which one would work better?  Will use your cleaner and brightener to prep.  Semi-transparent stain.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/18/2022
      Just one coat on this deck.
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        Sean S · 05/18/2022
        OK to apply with a sprayer and back brush with your brush head, or better to use the brush head itself?   Lot of deck to stain.....  I have read the information and watched the videos.
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          RAD Products · 05/18/2022
          Just apply th one coat with the yellow brush and stain pads.
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    RayL · 05/17/2022
    The instructions for the stripper and brightener say to apply the brightner immediately after the stripper is removed.  If this is not possible because of circumstances, can we proceed with the brightener at a later date, e.g. 1 or 2 days by just wetting the stripped deck before applying the brightener.  In my case, I may have quite a bit of sanding to do before applying the brightener. Thanks
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/17/2022
      If you need to sand, then do that first and brighten all when done.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        RayL · 05/18/2022
        Thank you, my inquiry was more about how much time I have to apply the brightener once the stripping is completed assuming it can not be done immediately.  Or is that not a critical issue.
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          RAD Products · 05/18/2022
          If you cannot do it right away since you want to sand, then do it as soon as the sanding is done. A couple of weeks at most.
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    Greg · 05/16/2022
    Wondering what materials are needed here? Recently bought the house, looking to refinish this deck (500sf) which I’ve been told is mahogany but appears they used a solid stain over it. 1) what would be best to strip the old stain? 2) Should I apply solid stain or can I use semi-transparent? 3) any other helpful tips? 

    thank you!
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    Alex · 05/16/2022
    I am getting both Gel and Booster additives as I have vertical surfaces that still have, perhaps overapplied, Armstrong oil-based stain from a few years ago that look like new (but other areas are bare). I need help / instructions on how to use these. I am guessing that the booster I can simply add, and then use my sprayer but that I cannot do the same with the gel additive (i.e. it wouldn't spray). Searched online, didn't find.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/16/2022
      Add both Gel and Booster into the RAD stripper after mixing that first with water. You can spray after all is mixed with a quality pump sprayer.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Alex · 05/16/2022
        Thanks! Will do that.
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    Darrell Nicholson · 05/16/2022
    Should I use cleaner or stripper over existing restore a deck semi transparent stain?  It was applied 3 years ago.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      RAD Products · 05/16/2022
      Post some pics of current shape of deck.
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    Sonny · 05/16/2022
    Sorry, in the previous post I forgot to attach the pics.  Attaching here.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hi, I was wondering what material I will need for this deck project? Will I need to strip the previous stain off or I can pressure wash and stain with RAD solid stain over previous stain?
    Info below on this deck project:
    - Total SF using the RAD calculator and including railing and stairs - 800 SF
    - 29 year old wood which I believe is cedar or pine (but not sure type of wood)
    - Last stained 5 years ago with solid stain Olympic Rescue It Max brand
    - Yes, I have access to a pressure washer

    If you can please let me know material needed for this project? Thanks!
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Sonny · 05/16/2022
    Hi, I was wondering what material I will need for this deck project?  Will I need to strip the previous stain off or I can pressure wash and stain with RAD solid stain over previous stain?
    Info below on this deck project:
    - Total SF using the RAD calculator and including railing and stairs - 800 SF
    - 29 year old wood which I believe is cedar or pine (but not sure type of wood)
    - Last stained 5 years ago with solid stain Olympic Rescue It Max brand
    - Yes, I have access to a pressure washer

    If you can please let me know material needed for this project?  Thanks!