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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