How to Remove Old Deck Stains

How to Remove Old Deck Stains


No outdoor living space can escape the withering effects of continuous exposure to changing weather, moisture or sunlight. Even the best solid-finished deck can eventually flake away and lose its original shine and appeal over time. When your deck faces this ugly truth, it is a prerequisite to remove old deck stains first to give way to the success of applying new stains. If old deck stains are not removed properly before slapping on a fresh coat of new stains, the remnants of the past will cause a tremendous problem in the future. New stains could not penetrate the deck surface if the old stains remain sitting on your deck. You could wait for another year or so, and new stains will eventually peel off easily. So, to guarantee that you’re not wasting your precious time and energy, it is essential to remove old deck stains so that you can transform your outdoor living space into its original finish and beauty.


Why Deck Stain Peels Off?

A lot of exterior wooden deck owners normally ask this question: Why my deck flakes away and how can I remove old deck stains? We understand that nothing ruins an enjoyable outdoor experience more than the ragged-looking deck. Before you prepare your deck to start anew, let’s identify some common reasons why deck stains peel off.


Reason 1: Improper Prepping of Deck

A new deck stain will eventually fail if you did not prepare it properly. It normally happened when the deck was not cleaned thoroughly before applying a new finish, failure to use a deck brightener after applying deck cleaner or stripper, or old failed stains were not removed properly. These practices affect the cellular structure of your deck; hence, new deck stains will not penetrate the surface.


Reason 2: Using a Wrong Type of Stain or Sealer

There is a rationale behind every interior and exterior stain, and it’s pretty obvious: interior stains and coatings will not work for exterior wood decks and vice versa.  When you use coatings not formulated for exterior wood decking, it won’t penetrate wood surfaces. Always remember not to use any varnish type for coating wood. Checking the manufacturer’s label won’t cause too much of your time, so always make it a habit.


Reason 3: Improper Deck Sanding

Sanding your deck to a super smooth surface may lead to some penetration issues. Not choosing the right paper grit will make deck stains peel off easily. As much as possible, you want to achieve a more porous wood deck, so a paper of 60 grit or below is recommended.


Reason 4: Using Poor Quality of Deck Stain

A lot of deck stains are available in the market, but they are not created equally. When staining your deck with a fresh coat, it is important to research about the products and check the reviews online. It pays to be knowledgeable. Ask your local deck contractor to find out which deck stain products are suitable for your outdoor living space.


Steps to Remove Old Deck Stains


Step 1: Scrubbing off

Before you remove old deck stains, you need to sweep the deck thoroughly so it will clear away any debris or dirt. If the old stains are not stubborn, you can typically eliminate those by periodic cleaning with water and mild detergent solution. Scrub it off with a soft-bristled brush so it won’t damage the wood surfaces.  Some homeowners use power washers in cleaning their decks. However, power washing might cause wood damages, especially if too much pressure is applied to the wood decking. Once you remove all dirt, rinse off the residue using a hose, then allow your deck to dry.


Step 2: Sanding

After the deck dries completely, remove old deck stains using sandpaper. Start with coarse sandpaper, then gradually change it to a finer grit. Make sure to clear off any fine wood dust once the sanding is complete.


Step 3: Stripping

A stripping disc is more effective and faster than sandpaper and even orbital or belt sander. Not to mention that stripping disc works perfectly on angle grinders. You can use a coarse stripping disc on deck portions that are heavily discolored.


If you want to go for a chemical deck stripper, apply a generous amount of deck stripper over the deck stain. Depending on the type of stain, you can choose between water- and oil-based deck strippers. Once applied, let it stay for roughly 15 to 20 minutes. Deck strippers typically contain surfactants and sodium hydroxide, so it aims to soften and remove old deck stains easily. However, keep in mind that deck strippers are not effective in eliminating solid paints or stains. You can combine it with sandpaper to achieve a better result.


Step 4: Deck Conditioning

Applying deck strippers can make your wooden deck darker; thus, you need a wood brightener. Using wood brightener or conditioner can help neutralize the stain remover and bring back the glow of your wooden decking close to its original look. It gives a new luster to the wood grains to enhance the charm of your outdoor living space. A gallon of wood brightener covers approximately 200 square foot of your deck.


Step 5: Applying a New Stain

Once you have followed all the preceding steps, you are now ready to apply a new stain. Deck stain is either water-based or oil-based. Whichever deck stain you will apply, make sure to use the right type of brush. Use a nylon brush for water-based stains, while a natural bristle brush for oil-based deck stains.


Deck finishes are also categorized depending on their pigment density: clear or transparent, semi-transparent, semi-solid and solid. Each has its own fair share of advantages and shortcomings. Let’s say in the case of a transparent deck stain, which contains no oil or pigment that gives a natural look of the wood deck; however, clear stains offer low or no protection from UV rays. Solid deck stain, on the other hand, has an opaque finish and provides the best protection against UV rays. However, it is densely pigmented, so it covers wood grains and is very prone to peeling and chipping. To figure out the best deck finish for you, it would be helpful if you consult a local deck contractor for a piece of advice. Also, always follow precautionary measures such as wearing protective glasses, gloves and closed-toed shoes when handling chemicals like these.


Final Thoughts

It feels more enjoyable and relaxing to own a clean and solid-finished deck than having a ragged-looking one. The keys to achieving a beautiful outdoor living space are periodic maintenance and thorough inspection. As a homeowner, your goal is to make sure that every square footage of your deck is evaluated and maintained correctly. However, if you feel that you need an expert to revive your old, dull-looking deck, contact Deck Ready. We can help you build better ideas for a better outdoor living space.

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