Even if you use the best available stain and you follow the application instructions exactly, over time the stain on your deck will begin to wear.
Foot traffic will cause uneven wear in spots while also grinding dirt into the boards.
UV rays will penetrate the stain causing the wood to crack and dry out while at the same time ruining the appearance of the stain.
Beyond this, mold and mildew will form in shaded spots. If left untreated, they can damage the wood.
Can’t I Just Clean The Deck?
Deck cleaners are useful when your deck is simply dirty and needs cleaning. Cleaners are also ideal when you’re preparing a new deck to be stained and you need to remove the dirt and mold from the raw treated wood.
Cleaning is not enough when your deck has suffered damage from the elements, has been exposed to wear and tear, or the stain or paint has begun to flake and peel. If a deck stain is still holding up in certain areas, sometimes even a power washer won’t remove the coating completely.
So what do you do?
Well, when it’s time for upkeep and refreshing your deck, you need to reach for a deck stain stripper to properly prepare your decking for the new treatment.
How Do Deck Strippers Work
Deck strippers work by fully penetrating the old stain and breaking it down so that it can be properly removed from the deck.
Deck strippers contain chemical formulas (often either sodium metasilicate or sodium hydroxide as the main chemical component) that fully penetrate the old stain and break it down. All the chemicals and surfactants work together to weaken the bond between the wood and the current stain.
Once the bond between the old stain and the wood of the deck has been broken down, the stain can be cleaned from the deck.
Using A Deck Stripper
Many people think that stripping the stain from a deck is complicated work, so they leave it to the pros or just ignore the problem.
Unfortunately, leaving it to the professionals is expensive and ignoring the problem only makes it worse as the deck continues to wear down. The wood can even become so bad that you cannot repair it.
The truth is, while stripping your deck is tedious, it’s not at all difficult when done correctly. Going the DIY route can save you a few hard-earned dollars.
What do you do then?
- Before stripping the deck, ensure you’re wearing adequate protective gear since these are caustic chemicals that can harm you if you don’t take proper precautions.
- To mix the deck stain stripper, follow the mixing instructions from the manufacturer. Test the stripper in an inconspicuous area of the deck. If you’re completely satisfied, you can saturate the deck with the stain stripper and give it 30-60 minutes to penetrate the stain and wood. Some stains take a lot longer to be broken down. (If the stain stripper isn’t taking it off, as a last resort, you might have to sand the surface back to bare wood)
- You can scrub the stain from the wood by hand but it is far easier to use a pressure washer to clean the wood. Be sure to rinse all the stripper and debris from the deck.
- When you’re done, allow the deck to dry and then apply a deck brightener to regulate the wood’s pH balance. Once this is done, your deck has been sufficiently prepped for a new finish.
Now it’s time to start the process and buy the best deck stripper. We’ve got some hints to help simplify your decision.
Considerations When Choosing a Deck Stripper
While choosing the best deck stripper might seem straightforward, keeping a few key elements in mind will make the process smoother.
First, you need to know what kind of stain you are stripping from the wood. A solid stain will be much more difficult to remove from a deck than a semi-transparent stain.
Semi-transparent stains or clear sealers are the easiest to remove and are ideal for use with a Stain Stripper.
Make sure the stain stripper you are using is biodegradable since it will probably make its way off your deck and into the ground.
Try to find a stripper that doesn’t contain methylene chloride. This solvent gives off toxic fumes. Though methylene chloride has been outlawed in several countries, it’s still available for use in the US so check your stripper ingredients to be sure it’s completely safe.
Deck Stripper Reviews
Now that you’re fully up to speed with the basics, here’s a summary of three of the best deck strippers on the market.
This stain stripper comes in a concentrated powdered form, and it’s fully biodegradable.
The combo pack also includes a booster additive that will increase the effectiveness of the stain stripper, making it even more effective on hard to remove stain products.
Also, this pack comes with a wood brightener bundled so you can easily restore the pH level of your deck. That said, you may need to make a few passes with this product to see good results.
- Ideal for removing tough stains
- Deck brightener thrown in
- For best results, you might need to strip the deck twice
This heavy-duty stain stripper can be used to remove stain on areas up to 750 square feet.
It works hard to penetrate and remove sealers and stains so you can safely restore your deck.
You can also adjust the strength of this stripper to accommodate whatever stain you’re removing. Use less of the product for a semi-transparent stain and more for a solid stain.
- Adjustable formula
- Easy to apply
- Covers a wide surface
- You’ll need to recoat to remove solid stain
We think this is one of the best deck strippers since it is biodegradable and gets to work rapidly. It is a real time-saver.
Though it can remove semi-transparent and clear stains, it doesn’t work as well on solid stains.
This stripper will also get off any dirt and grime as well as any glaze left behind from the wood mill.
- Fast acting formula
- Works on any wood surface
- Pre-mixed and ready to go
- Won’t work on solid color stains