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When to Apply Wood Brightener? Right Away or Let Dry?

by RAD Products

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 the 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 the 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 has been allowed to dry and brightened at a later time, the furring can always be sanded off prior to staining.

Important Note: Restore-A-Deck Brightener is used only with the Restore-A-Deck Stain Stripper. It is not needed for the RAD Paint & Solid Stain Stripper Gel

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Margaret Banyan
Margaret Banyan
9 months ago

Hi. Just to confirm the guidance here. I have read through all the discussion below. I have the RAD stripper, cleaner, brightener, and TWP 100 stain ready to go.

I installed a new deck in two phases.

  • Phase I had pre-stained cedar planks that I am stripping and brightening (installed about 16 months ago).
  • Phase II has cedar planks installed 12 months ago (now grayed out).
  • Both installs are in close proximity to one another

The questions I have are:

  1. Can I use stripper on all of the boards OR should I use the stripper on Phase I install and the cleaner on Phase II boards? I understand I use brightener following both processes.
  2. The test spots showed slight furring despite rinsing the brightener. Should I: a) strip, b) brighten and c) buff or lightly sand OR should I a) strip, b) sand or buff, then c) brighten?
  3. Wouldn’t the water based brightener also cause furring even if properly rinsed?
  4. Since the TWP 100 products are oil based, do I need to let the boards dry for 48 hours prior to application?

Thank you!!

Margaret Banyan
Margaret Banyan
9 months ago

Thank you! Very clear!

TSP
TSP
9 months ago

Hi there,

I am planning to clean my deck with 30 second outdoor deck cleaner, along with using a pressure washer, and deck brush.

Following that I am under the assumption I should apply brightener when deck is wet based off the aforementioned comments.

1) If my brighter has a cleaner component too, is that okay? Is that “too much cleaning”? (Thompson’s water deal deck cleaner and brightener)

2) Following this, after 48+ hours, I plan to sand it. Does one have to apply brighten again before staining?

3) If I plan on doing two tone staining (dark for floorboards) and white for railing. Is the process the same for everything ?

If you could clarify i would really appreciate it.

Thanks!

Hannah
Hannah
9 months ago

What happens if it rains after I use brightener? Do I need to apply again? And how long to wait after I brighten to stain. Wood need to fully dry I assume.

Hannah
Hannah
9 months ago
Reply to  RAD Products

Thank you so much!

Julie King
Julie King
10 months ago

I am applying the solid color stain today and I may not be able to get the second coat on. Should I wait until I have a day when I have time for both coats? Also, Do I wet the wood for the second coat? Can I apply the second coat with the hot sun application process because my deck is in direct sunlight most of the day. Thank you.

Julie
Julie
10 months ago

I sanded my older deck because of terrible flaking and peeling. I now need to brush or sweep the dust from sanding off. After that, what should I do? I am planning to use your solid stain. I added pictures of the sanded deck
1. Should I power wash and then use the brightener?
2. Use the brightener and then lightly wash?
3 use a cleaner, then brightener?
4. What is your suggestion?
Thank you.

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Julie
Julie
10 months ago
Reply to  RAD Products

Does the deck need to be wet for the brightener? And then how long after pressure washing before I apply the solid stain? Thank you for your time!

Julie
Julie
10 months ago
Reply to  RAD Products

One last question. I am replacing a few boards and I know I have to awhile before I can stain them. Will I be able to use the stain I buy now for the rest of the deck on the new boards when the time comes?

Carol
Carol
11 months ago

Hi! I just stripped my deck to fix an over saturation problem (shouldn’t have done two coats) and then sanded the entire deck with 80 grit paper and an orbital sander to remove any remaining stain traces and to get rid of all the fuzzies after the pressure washing. The wood literally looks brand new. Do I still need to brighten it or can I just apply the stain? (I’m using RAD products) Also… should 1 gallon of stain be enough to cover a 300sq ft deck with no railings?

Steve
Steve
1 year ago

I have a pretty new deck and plan on pressure washing it to clean it.  Can I skip the cleaner and just use the brightener

Charlie
Charlie
1 year ago

Cleaned my deck 3 days ago and it is now dry.  Should I re-wet the deck before applying brightner?

Nick
Nick
1 year ago

Hi I just started applying my brightener, I didn’t realize the nozzle on my pump sprayer was broken and it dries by the time I bought a new one am I okay to start a day later and apply the brightener even though I cleaned yesterday

Richard
Richard
1 year ago

HiI have a 160 ft long, 6ft high (w 8ft wide sections) cedar fence that is 10 months old and haven’t stained yet. I’ve read the instructions and what you wrote above but have some questions:

1. If I am supposed to apply brightener while the fence is still wet from cleaning, does that mean the best strategy is to have 2 pump sprayers – 1 with cleaner and 1 with brightener – and apply/pressure wash/rinse the cleaner for a couple of sections, then apply and rinse brightener, then move onto next section? Assuming i don’t want wood furring, i don’t see any way to realistically do it without having 2 pump sprayers.

2. My fence actually looks fairly new (only graying on top and no visible dirt). I get that i still need the 2 step cleaner and brightener, but when pressure washing the cleaner, can I just use my 800 psi washer?

Thanks

Richard
Richard
1 year ago
Reply to  RAD Products

Thanks. Here are some pics

Richard Carey
Richard Carey
1 year ago
Reply to  RAD Products

Ok. So I have used RAD cleaner (used 1700 PSI pressure washer to agitate) and RAD brightener. Took a couple of days because of size of fence and needed to break up into sections to ensure it would dry out before next steps.

Problem now – aside from the fact that the wood seems a little too rough in places – is that I have white spots / splotches in places. This is mostly on the top of top rail, but also on vertical surfaces as well. 

I assume these will show up when I stain. How do I fix this? Do I do a light sanding with 80 girt paper on these spots? ‘Go harder’ with pressure washer? or…? 

Richard Carey
Richard Carey
1 year ago
Reply to  RAD Products

Sorry – I meant to say: “break up into sections to ensure it would NOT dry out before next steps.”

Dotty
Dotty
1 year ago

Hello,

Removing old Sikkens from pine deck. Using sanders. I’d love to use stripper instead, but it seems really toxic. After sanding will wash, rinse, and brighten, then rinse again. Will be using TWP stain.
Are these the correct steps? Thanks

Z. Buzermanis
Z. Buzermanis
1 year ago

I’ve cleaned and then sanded (to level and get rid of gouges) a cedar deck with 80 grit. The more heavily sanded areas have exposed new wood surfaces which are amber in color – will RAD Brightener even out the difference in the color tones on the deck?

Dave
Dave
1 year ago

What if it rains after brightening?  Am I correct that it needs to dry for 24 hours before staining after brightener is used?

Dave
Dave
1 year ago
Reply to  RAD Products

TWP 500

Bryanna Harris
Bryanna Harris
1 year ago

Hello,
I am planning on restoring my 15 year old deck. It has not had a stain on it for the past 6 years. All old stain is gone. There are areas that need to be sanded due to splinters. I have bought the restore a deck cleaner and brightener and plan to use a TWP semi transparent stain. I’m getting conflicting information on the proper steps of when to sand. Do I sand, clean, brighten, and stain? Or I was also told by deckhelp to clean, dry, sand, brighten, and then stain…? What is your recommendation??
thank you in advance! Bryanna Harris

Kay
Kay
2 years ago

I finished sanding and cleaning my deck yesterday. Today I had planned to get up and apply the brightener, but woke up with the flu. What is the maximum number of days I have to apply brightener before I ought to start over again by reapplying the cleaner before I apply brightener, then stain?

Karen
Karen
2 years ago

Can I apply the brighter before sanding and staining?

Michael
Michael
2 years ago

I used the restore a deck cleaner and brightener yesterday but today y notice difference colors in my cedar deck, like darkened  spots, it’s this normal ? And will this go away with the amstrong Clark transparent stain ? Or I should use again the brightener ? Thanks! 

Michael
Michael
2 years ago
Reply to  RAD Products

 Ok,the wood need to be wet before the brightener or not ? Thank you very much!!! 

Michael
Michael
2 years ago
Reply to  RAD Products

Hello apply again sunless and today continues with the same spots, I have to repeat the whole process? With the cleaner also? Or the spots will disappear with the transparent stain ? Thanks 

Kathy Briggs
Kathy Briggs
2 years ago

I had stripped my deck and than used an all in “one wood prep” I had believed this to be a brightner but is caused the deck to have a milky gray appearance.  How can I correct this?

Kathy Briggs
Kathy Briggs
2 years ago
Reply to  RAD Products

Are you saying I need to start over?  Ugh. Thanks for your help.

Tanis
Tanis
2 years ago

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?

bill
bill
2 years ago

why not use a once combo cleaner/brightner instead of the two steps cleaner THEN brightner method

Avatar photo
2 years ago

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.

j
j
2 years ago

do I need to mask vinyl siding?

Justin
Justin
2 years ago
Reply to  RAD Products

no the product that this thread is about. Either of the two a concern?

Jocelyn Oldham von Klein
Jocelyn Oldham von Klein
2 years ago

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?

Joe
Joe
2 years ago

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! 

Suzanne
Suzanne
2 years ago

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?

Justin
Justin
2 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne

if youre using a solid again i wouldnt see the need to brighten

Brian
Brian
3 years ago

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!

Brian
Brian
3 years ago
Reply to  RAD Products

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). 

Joe
Joe
3 years ago

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

Cara
Cara
3 years ago

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?

Cara
Cara
3 years ago
Reply to  RAD Products

Thank you so much for your help. Just so I have an answer when my husband asks, and I know he will…What is reasoning for waiting until the spring. We live in South Texas. Thanks again for all your help.

Justin
Justin
2 years ago
Reply to  RAD Products

i only have full sun on my deck. going to be hard to get clouds with no chance of rain in the midwest. What does full sun do to staining?

Colin
Colin
3 years ago

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?

Jess
Jess
3 years ago

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?

Jess
Jess
3 years ago
Reply to  RAD Products

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?

Nathan
Nathan
3 years ago

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?

Sandra
Sandra
3 years ago

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?

Mark
Mark
3 years ago

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.

Kat
Kat
3 years ago

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??

Kat
Kat
3 years ago
Reply to  RAD Products

Ok, whew! Thank you 🙂

Sam
Sam
3 years ago

Can I sand and brighten (after sanding) in the same day? This is new, untreated wood that is ready for staining.

Sam
Sam
3 years ago
Reply to  RAD Products

I read the whole article and don’t see the answer to my question about whether I can sand and brighten the same day.

Joanna
Joanna
3 years ago

Is brightener needed if I plan to use solid stain?

Jessica
Jessica
3 years ago

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!

Steve
Steve
3 years ago

Should I apply the brighter before or after sanding. My wood grain has “furred” (as expected) after stripping. TIA

Alex M
Alex M
3 years ago

Should i use a brightener after doing a mid-summer deck wash? (Not staining after)

Shan hose
Shan hose
3 years ago

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?

Kim
Kim
3 years ago

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

Avatar photo
3 years ago

is there anything I can use to repair the damaged wood that will work?

Avatar photo
3 years ago

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??

Avatar photo
3 years ago

Will deck brightener remove the white oxidation spots on my wood

Mike
Mike
3 years ago

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?

Avatar photo
3 years ago

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…

Mariea
Mariea
3 years ago

I’m thinking of renting a sander. Should I tighten the wood before or after sanding?

Mariea
Mariea
3 years ago

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?

Gregg
Gregg
3 years ago

On my two sets of wood steps on the back of our home that take a beating from the weather, I have completed pressure washed to get rid of the mildew, mold, dirt, etc. and they cleaned up really well and it also removed the majority of previous transparent stain – I just finished sanding all steps with a random orbital hand sander (60/80 grit) to remove remaining stain and also address slight burring of the wood without getting the wood to smooth – My plan now is to pre-wet the steps, apply clean and brighten with a pump sprayer, brushing if needed, let dry, and then apply new transparent stain – Am I on the right track…?

DHR
DHR
3 years ago

Do decks need to be stained or is it ok just to clean and use brighter? If I must stain, what product do you recommend?

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