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
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?
Apply brightener and the pressure wash rinse.
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!
Damp or dry is okay. Apply the solid stain to a damp or dry deck is okay.
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?
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?
Always brighen after sanding to open up the pores of the wood and to help remove any sand dust. One coat of stain. You will need 2 gallons.
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
No. See this: https://www.restore-a-deck.com/Deck-Cleaning-Reviews-and-Tips/restore-a-deck-stain-for-new-wood.html
Cleaned my deck 3 days ago and it is now dry. Should I re-wet the deck before applying brightner?
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
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?
1. You can just use the same sprayer. Just rinse it out and switch.
2. Send some pics.
Thanks. Here are some pics
We would use the prep products as you have mill glaze to remove as well.
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…?
Most likely it will not show when stained and we do not suggest spot sanding as the stain will take unevenly if you do.
Sorry – I meant to say: “break up into sections to ensure it would NOT dry out before next steps.”
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
Yes correct steps. RAD Stripper is not toxic.
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?
No, a brightener cannot even out uneven sanding. Only sand all evenly will fix this.
What if it rains after brightening? Am I correct that it needs to dry for 24 hours before staining after brightener is used?
What stain brand are you using?
The TWP 500 is no longer available so I assume you meant the 1500 Series. You will need 48 hours after prep to let the wood dry before staininig.
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
You actually do not even need to sand. If you want to sand, then sand either prior to cleaning or after cleaning but before the brightening.
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?
Can I apply the brighter before sanding and staining?
If you sand, brightener goes after.
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!
We would suggest the brighten again and do it while not in the sun as the spots seem to follow your cable lines for some reason.
Ok,the wood need to be wet before the brightener or not ? Thank you very much!!!
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
No, the spots are probably internal and will not disappear and will not come out with any other prep. On another note, the only dark spots we see are from the shade from the cables.
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?
Use the RAD Cleaner first with pressure washing and then the Brightener.
Are you saying I need to start over? Ugh. Thanks for your help.
With the prep, yes. It will be easy though.
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?
You should clean and brighten new wood with our prep kits and stain with our Restore A Deck Stain. https://www.restore-a-deck.com/restore-a-deck-stain-combo-kits.html
Arborcoat has major issues with failure if you read all the reviews online.
why not use a once combo cleaner/brightner instead of the two steps cleaner THEN brightner method
It is not possible to have a combo deck cleaner and a wood brighener. A proper deck cleaner is mild caustic and raises the ph balance of the wood. A brightener being a mild acid will lower neutralize and lower the pH balance to neutral. Combining them would cancel each either out and the products would be useless. Any company that is stating their product both cleans and brightens at the same time is basically lying as it is not “chemically” possible to do both.
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.
Your prep looks good, you just have a little bit of fuzzies. You can lightly pole sand or buff them off with a buffer and sanding pad and then you can stain.
do I need to mask vinyl siding?
From stain yes. Pre wet and rinse right away any over spray from prep products.
no the product that this thread is about. Either of the two a concern?
Pre wet and rinse right away any over spray from prep products that get on the vinyl
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?
The whole project for 20-30 minutes.
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!
Clean and brighten the wood after sanding. This will open up the pores of the wood so the stain can soak in deeper.
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?
Just do a light clean and then brighten.
if youre using a solid again i wouldnt see the need to brighten
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?
Clean and brighten for best results.
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).
Yes, it preps it best for proper penetration and adhesion.
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
You should redo the prep using both the RAD Cleaner and then the RAD Brightener. https://www.restore-a-deck.com/RAD-Kits-Best-Prices.html
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?
Prep and redo in the Spring of next year. Strip and brighten. Apply just one coat to a damp deck as it looks like you over applied it last year or applied it in full sun.
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.
It will be fine to wait until spring but if you want, you can do now if temps are okay.
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?
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?
You would have to strip and redo to fix. It will not even out over time.
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?
Buff or sand them off.
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?
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?
You will always have to prep when reapplying. Use the Cleaner and Brightener kit.
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?
Brighten as soon as you are able. Stain within two weeks of the prep.
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.
Just rinse well with water.
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??
You still need to brighten after the stripping. It will be fine.
Ok, whew! Thank you 🙂
Can I sand and brighten (after sanding) in the same day? This is new, untreated wood that is ready for staining.
See here about new wood: https://www.restore-a-deck.com/Deck-Cleaning-Reviews-and-Tips/restore-a-deck-stain-for-new-wood.html
I read the whole article and don’t see the answer to my question about whether I can sand and brighten the same day.
Yes you can.
Is brightener needed if I plan to use solid stain?
Yes. Neutralizes the cleaner or stripper.
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!
Sand first and then brighten the wood. As for when to stain after, that would depend on the stain you are using?
Should I apply the brighter before or after sanding. My wood grain has “furred” (as expected) after stripping. TIA
Should i use a brightener after doing a mid-summer deck wash? (Not staining after)
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?
Yes, use both cleaner and brightener. This helps to open up the pores of the wood after sanding.
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
Best to still apply the brightener.
is there anything I can use to repair the damaged wood that will work?
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??
Wood filler will not work on decks and will not “stain” to blend. Do not use it, it will look very bad.
Will deck brightener remove the white oxidation spots on my wood
No, you need a cleaner.
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?
Both clean and then brighten.
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…
2. Brighten all a soon as you can.
3. No issues. You can apply to dry or samp wood. It does not matter.
I’m thinking of renting a sander. Should I tighten the wood before or after sanding?
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?
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…?
Yes. Only one coat of the stain.
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?
Stains protect the wood and prolong the life.
My deck is old, and I’m uncertain what was applied previously. Doesn’t look to have been touched in many years. I lightly power washed already. I plan to apply RAD stripper, then RAD brightener, then RAD light walnut stain. My question is: should I lightly sand before applying stripper? Or should I sand after applying stripper and brightener? Does the order matter?
No need to sand.
I just stripped and used the brighener on our 12 year old Garapa deck. I have attached a photo of black spots that are showing up on several boards. Is it mold and will I have to sand it to get rid of the spots?
Also after sanding, should we strip again and brighten it up before we stain it?
Looks internal not mold. Have you tried to sand off a spot? Not sure what it is.
I bought step 1 cleaner but forgot to buy step 2 brightener. I went ahead and applied step 1 cleaner… and the wood now has white fuzzy areas all over it. I ordered step 2 brightener and it will come in a week or so. I power washed the cleaner out but still have white fuzzy areas on the wood. Is the wood damaged? How should I proceed? Should I use step 1 cleaner again and then the step 2 brightener right after? Or just apply step 2 brightener only when it arrives?
This happens from the oxidation/graying of the wood. The cleaner has to remove this oxidation and when heavily grayed, fuzzies can happen. It is not damaged and typically is not noticeable when stained. You can lightly sand or buff off the fuzzies now. Use the brightener when it arrives.
I’m confused. I have been hand sanding my deck because the stripper didn’t work on existing Behr stain. It will take some time to get it all done. Do I then just dampen sanded wood and apply brightener, then stain, or do I need to apply cleaner (or stripper, which I already have) after sanding? I’ll be applying the new RAD stain. Thank you.
Best to clean and brighten after the sanding to help the stain soak in deeper.
Can I use stripper to clean since I already have?
The stripper is too aggressive to just clean.
How do you apply the stripper and brightener, with a brush?
or with a pressure washer
Apply the prep products with a pump sprayer and then pressure wash off.