Does your fading, chipping deck get on your nerves? Or maybe the stain color just doesn’t jive with your tastes? To most of us, the term ‘stain’ means it’s there forever and not coming off, but whatever your reason for wanting to change your deck stain…the good news is…you can! Keep reading to find out how to remove stain from a deck.
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We bought our house about a year ago and while the deck was alright, you could tell the sellers had hastily tried to slap some Thompson’s WaterSeal Waterproofing Stain on it. The materials were still sitting in the corner of the deck after they moved out. They not only chose a solid stain that wasn’t very attractive, but also missed several spots in their attempt to get the house ready to sell.
And after just a year, the parts that saw the most sun were cracking, peeling, & worn! Their choice of product wasn’t a bad one necessarily, but I don’t think they prepped or applied it properly. It just so happened that we decided to extend our deck and would need to strip the stain off the existing deck so we could match them up!
How To Remove Stain Off Your Deck
1) Clearing the Deck
Start by removing patio furniture, the grill, kids’ toys, and any other items that are on the deck. Then use a broom to sweep off any leaves or loose dirt. If you have siding/flashing or any kind of a painted surface up near the deck, you will want to cover it with painter’s plastic or something to protect it from the pressure washer.
Same goes if you have anything that can corrode/rust with excess water exposure. Most outdoor outlets have a protective plastic box around it to keep water out, but if yours doesn’t, you will need to flip the breaker off to that outlet and cover it somehow to keep the water out. If you have landscaping of any sort up near the deck, wet the plants and then lightly drape some of the plastic over them to protect them.
To remove any extra debris the broom didn’t quite get, you can use your water hose or set the pressure washer nozzle to the flat, lighter spray setting and rinse away debris. You just don’t want standing water on the deck, so sweep away any excess water before moving to the next step.
2) Deck Stripper
We initially thought the pressure washer alone would remove the stain and it did for the most part on those boards that were exposed to the sun most of the day. But unless your deck is completely out in the sun, there is a good chance you’ll want to use a stain & finish deck stripper product like the one by Jomax.
It’s best to work in small areas of 20 sqft or less. Pour some of the deck stripper on the deck and use the deck brush to spread it and scrub it onto the boards a bit. You may want to use a paint brush to get the edges right up against the house or on areas like handrails/balusters.
Let the stripper set for about 15 minutes making sure it doesn’t dry. You can add a little more deck stripper and scrub it some more if it starts drying out during the 15 minutes.
3) Pressure Wash
After the deck stripper sets for 15 minutes, you can use the pressure washer to start spraying the deck. Be sure not to turn the setting to the more powerful stream as it can scar and etch the wood. Also, for the same reason, you want to hold the pressure washer wand so that the nozzle is at least 12-18” away from the deck surface.
Start by working quickly swiping the wand back and forth above the treated surface to get most of the deck stripper and stain off the deck…then you can go back and move a bit slower, checking to make sure all the stain has been stripped away. After completing that, I like to stand back and spray the area down good to make sure all the deck stripper is washed away.
Continue to the next section of the deck and repeat steps 2 & 3…so on and so forth until the whole deck is done. After that, go back to the first section you started with as it should be a little dry, if not all the way dry at this point and you can see if there is any leftover stain.
If you find leftover stain, use the paintbrush or deck brush and add some more deck stripper to those spots, let it sit for 5 minutes or so and then pressure wash those spots again. Give the entire deck a final rinse when it’s all done.
And viola…you have a deck that is restored to its natural color or close to it. It will look even better once it’s had time to dry. If you need to further clean any mildew that wasn’t removed or you need to brighten/lighten the wood some more, you can use a deck wash & brightener. Let it dry out for 24-48 hours depending on outside temperatures and then you should be ready to restain it or seal it.
Since we did the deck extension, the new wood won’t be ready to accept stain for awhile so we will come back with the deck wash & brightener when we are getting ready to stain it. We are hoping to do that in a few months and then our overall deck project will be a wrap!
Do you have big plans for your deck or outdoor entertaining space? I’d love to hear about it!
Until next time,
P.S. – This is part 4 of a 5 part series for our overall deck project
Part 1 was our DIY deck extension
Part 2 was our DIY deck shade structure
Part 3 was our DIY hinged deck dining rail
Part 5 – How to stain a deck