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DIY Deck Stain Removal

By Edited Aug 21, 2016 1 1

Many people find that having a profession come out to remove deck stain is too expensive and want to find out how to do it themselves. It is a time consuming and exhausting task, but removing deck stain by yourself is by far cheaper, and can be done to the satisfaction of the deck owner the first time around, reducing the time it will take to stain the deck over again, if that is what the owner desires. Also, DIY deck stain removal allows the owner the ability to test several different stains on the natural wood grain of the deck in order to determine which look best suits the deck to the owner’s satisfaction.

Reasons to Remove Deck Stain

There are several reasons deck stain needs to be removed. The owner could decide the stain is not what they had originally wanted.  The original stain could have possibly not penetrated the wood of the deck properly, causing it to peel, making the deck look old and weathered, and not aesthetically pleasing. Another reason to remove deck stain is the growth of algae on the deck.
No matter what the reason, many people choose a DIY deck stain removal process for the flexibility of options, the knowledge of getting the job done to standards and satisfaction the first time, and the sense of accomplishment.

How to Remove Deck Stain   

In order to remove polish, varnish, veneer or treatment from a wooden deck, the use of a liberal amount of deck stripper will help remove the former finish, and gets the deck prepared for cleaning.  Depending on the type of deck stain needing removed, choose between oil or water-based deck strippers.

Clean the Deck   

Use a pressure washer to ensure that the deck is completely cleaned of any debris. Deck cleaners that contain bleach can be used to remove mildew or algae from the deck.  Oxalic acid deck cleaners are best for tannin or iron stains. A pump sprayer and a stiff bristled, non metallic brush with a long handle are efficient for scrubbing the deck, which should be done before rinsing the deck thoroughly with a garden hose.  The deck should dry for several days.  During these days, it is wise to go ahead and choose your new stain.

Types of Stains
Clear stains are a great way to maintain the original color of the deck, but these provide a lower level of protection from the weather.  Toners provide a minimal color to the deck, which will bring out the original wood color with a nice finish. This stain offers durability while maintaining the original appearance of the deck. Semi-transparent stains are the ones most often recommended by experts due to the ability to penetrate the porous wood, thus adding to its durability. These provide a rich color to the wood but still allow the natural wood grain to show.  If the wood is severely weathered, two coats of this stain are more effective. Solid stains are great for turning an unattractive, weathered deck stain into an evenly colored, attractive surface.  These stains are thick, thus offering a higher level of ability for hiding the deck, but also hides the natural wood grain. These have a tendency to wear off quickly, however, and could require reapplication annually. Oil-based stains are best for penetration abilities and the capability to be wear and weather resistant. This makes oil-based stains more popular than water-based stains, which tend to take longer to penetrate the wood.

Reasons to Stain a Dry Deck   

Once the deck is completely dry by using a moisture meter, because wood is porous, meaning it can feel dry even though even a low level of moistness can make it hard for stains to penetrate the wood properly, meaning the stain could come out uneven, or possibly leaving the deck unstained at all.

Verify Stain Color   

It is important to verify the color of the stain on a small piece of wood before starting, or else disappointment with the color could lead to having to start the deck stain removal process all over again.  It is also important to remember to stain the deck in warmer weather but not in excessive heat or direct sunlight. Because the stains are highly combustible and flammable, stains will not penetrate the wood in high heat.
Safety Precautions   

For protection against staining skin or getting fumes in the eyes, it is important to dress correctly.  Rubber gloves protect the hands that are left uncovered by the long sleeved shirt that covers the arms and torso. Wear long pants and closed-toe shoes to protect the legs and feet. Do not forget to wear safety glasses to protect the eyes from fumes. 
Finishing with the Finish   

To finally finish the staining process, use a brush to apply the stain, and then use a long handled roller to spread the stain evenly over the deck. For oil-based stains, a natural bristle brush is the best choice. Nylon brushes are the best choices for applying water-based stains. Allow the deck stain to dry completely, usually over a period of two days to a week, before walking on it or replacing furniture.  This allows the stain to coat the wood completely, and penetrate properly, thus maximizing durability of the stain. 

The knowledge of one’s ability to use the DIY deck stain removal process gives one a sense of accomplishment, and allows the home owner the ability to choose the stain they think best suits the house in both looks and needs.  This also gives the owner the financial freedom to work at the pace best suited for the owner’s needs and abilities. Another advantage to using a DIY deck stain removal process is the fact that it is possible for the owner to see exactly what shape the deck is in during the process, thus making sure the deck is still in stable condition before wasting time and money staining a deck that will soon need to be replaced or repaired. Taking all these considerations into account, many home owners find that the DIY deck stain removal process is the best option for them when they decide to refinish the deck, either for a new look or to replace weathered stain.



Oct 3, 2011 3:54pm
Just read a notice in my local home hardware store that oil based paints will not availble soon. I wonder if that applys to oil based exterior stains?
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