Remove a Deck Stain in 6 Steps

A stained deck.
What You'll Need
Deck stripper
Desk stain
Rubber gloves
Close-toed shoes
Safety glasses
Full-sleeved shirt
Long pants
Brush (bristle brush for oil-based stains, nylon brush for water-based stains)
Long-handled paint roller
Moisture meter
Pressure washer

Exposure to sun or moisture over years degrades deck stain. Your wooden deck stain is subject to weather conditions likely to turn it into an unattractive shade of grey. Decks also develop aberrations, splits, and markings as they age. You can transform an ugly deck stain into an attractive one in a few simple steps.

Step 1 - Apply Deck Stripper

Apply a generous coat of deck stripper over your deck stain. The deck stripper helps in removing the old finish and prepares the deck for cleaning. Choose an oil-based or water-based deck stripper depending on your deck stain.

Step 2 - Pressure Wash the Deck

Make sure that your deck is free of any dirt or debris. A gas-powered pressure washer can assist you in cleaning your deck efficiently. Alternatively, you can also use deck cleaners that contain chlorine bleach to get rid of mildew on your deck. Deck cleaners containing oxalic acid is effective in removing tannin or iron stains on your deck. Use a plastic pump sprayer and a brush with stiff, non-metallic bristles and a long handle for scrubbing your deck. Rinse the deck thoroughly with a garden hose and let it dry for a couple of days.

Step 3 - Choose a Stain

Depending on your needs, you can choose from the following five options:

    • Clear Stains: If you want to retain the color of your deck, choosing a clear stain is a good choice. However, clear stains provide less protection from water and UV rays.
    • Toners: Toners provide a light color to your deck highlighting its wooden finish. It provides good durability and helps in restoring the original look of your deck stain.
    • Semi-transparent Stains: Experts recommend a semi-transparent stain because of it's durability and ability to penetrate the wood. It also provides a rich color while allowing the natural wood grain to show through. If the wood on your deck is severely weathered, applying two coats of a semi-transparent stain is more effective.
    • Solid Color Stains: These are the best for transforming an old, unattractive deck stain to an evenly colored surface. Since they are opaque, they have a strong hiding capability and also hide the natural wood grain of your deck. Keep in mind they have a tendency to wear quickly and might need re-application every year.
    • Oil-based Stains: More popular than water-based, oil-based stains have excellent penetration and wear-resistant capabilities.

    Step 4 - Make Sure the Deck is Dry

    Before applying a new stain on your deck, make sure that the deck is dry. Even though the wood on your deck feels dry after touching, it could be moist making it non-conducive to absorb the new stain. You can verify if your deck is ready to be re-stained with the help of a moisture meter.

    Step 5 - Test the Stain

    Test the stain that you wish to apply on a piece of wood to verify the color.

      Keep in mind it is recommended that you apply the stain when the deck temperature is in the range of 40 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not recommended to stain in excessive heat or in direct sunlight. As the stains are flammable, high heat will not allow it to penetrate the wood.

      Step 6 - Apply the Stain

      Use a natural bristle brush for oil-based stains and a nylon brush for water-based stains when applying. Use a long-handled roller to evenly spread the stain on your deck.

      It's a good idea to wear rubber gloves, close-toed shoes, safety glasses, a full-sleeved shirt and pants to avoid skin and eye irritation due to chemicals present in deck cleaners and deck stains.