Strip and Brighten? What is Best Prep?

When it comes to deck restoration and maintenance it is important to know that in order to get good results the wood must be prepped correctly. When a deck stain fails prematurely it can normally be associated with incorrect or lack of wood prep work prior to the stain being applied. Any research on deck restoration will reveal that you need to remove any old failing coatings prior to applying a new stain. You might see the words strip and brighten. So what is the best prep? Strip or brighten?

Actually, both are necessary to get good results. To explain, stripping or using a stain stripper is the method of using a stripping agent during the cleaning process. This is typically done with the aid of a pressure washer. A stripper will emulsify old coatings making them easier to remove with the washer. This will reveal bare clean wood, which will make the best surface possible for the new deck stain.

Stain stripper is caustic so it raises the pH level of the wood causing it to appear very dark. Leaving it in this condition and then staining it will not give you the best results. You will not get the greatest appearance and it will also jeopardize the performance of the stain. To combat this you need to use a wood brightener following the wood stripping process.

The brightener also called neutralizer, will help to lower the pH level of the wood making it more acidic. This will accomplish two things. It will brighten the wood bringing out its natural beauty and also give the stain a better surface to adhere to or to penetrate depending on the stain you use. So the best prep is to both strip and brighten. This will help give more professional-like results. The stain will then perform as expected and give you a longer lasting finish.

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    Stu · 07/11/2021
    Cleaner or stripper? Recently moved into a home that has a beautiful deck but it needs some TLC. I don’t know what has been used on it over the past 20+ years but there is a can of Behr in the basement. 
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      RAD Products · 07/12/2021
      For prep, use the Restore A Deck Stripper and then the Brightener.
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    Tom lang · 06/19/2021
    Will RAD remove Sikkens semitransparent stain
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    Te · 06/12/2021
    How soon do I need to neutralize the stripper with the brightener?  Can I wait for a few days in between? Thanks.
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    Marilyn · 06/11/2021
    I asked a question on 6/1/21 and I would love to have some guidance from you on how best to do our deck.  Thank you!
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    Marilyn · 06/01/2021
    We need to address our deck.  It’s 3 summers old. This was new cedar that was cleaned and stained with Restore A Deck. Not sure if I need to use cleaner or stripper prior to the brightener then stain.  And, just checking, all three steps necessary?  Thank you
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      RAD Products · 06/11/2021
      Cleaner and then brightener and then stain. No need to strip.
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    Karen Matluck · 05/06/2021
    Do I need to sand the deck?if so in what order? Stripper>sander> brightener?
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      RAD Products · 05/06/2021
      You may need to sand some if you cannot strip it all off. You would do this after stripping and prior to the brightener.
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        CM · 05/17/2021
        You need to wait for the wood to dry fully before sanding, correct?
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    Karen Matluck · 05/06/2021
    Here’s pictures of my current deck. Prior owners used bear semi transparent stain
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    Karen Matluck · 05/06/2021
    My deck was stained with Behr premium semi transparent waterproofing stain & sealer. I want to redo with RAD.  What RAD product should I use to strip and brighten before staining 
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      RAD Products · 05/06/2021
      Please post a picture of current condition here in comment area.
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    Fred · 10/01/2019
    How do i figure out it i need the stripper additive?
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      RAD Products · 10/01/2019
      Depends on what brand and type of stain you are removing? Pictures would help as well.
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    Shelley · 06/17/2019
    Can you apply stripper with a brush?