How to Remove the Stain from Your Wood Deck

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What You'll Need
Commercial deck stripper
Stiff bristled brush
Garden hose
Power washer (optional)
Orbital sander
Dust mask
Flat vibrating plate sander
Backer pads
Sandpaper sheets - 80 grade
Palm sander
Knee pads (optional)
Shop vac
Garden hose (optional)

Removing the stain from your wood deck may become necessary if it has become sun bleached and weather-worn. Dull looking decks can be made almost new again by removing the old stain and replacing it. There are two methods you can use to accomplish this. Choose the stain stripper method if your wood is in good condition and doesn't have thick layers of finish to remove. Opt for the sanding method if you have multiple thick coats to penetrate or the wood needs extra smoothing.

Stain Stripper Method

Step 1 - Prepare and Apply Stain Stripper

Sweep away all dirt and debris from the deck to obtain a clean surface. Apply a generous amount of commercial stain stripper with a brush, roller, or hand sprayer until the entire surface is covered. Wait the recommended amount of time for stripper to begin lifting the old stain.

Step 2 - Remove Stain

Use a stiff bristled brush to scrub the wood along the grain to remove the lifted stain. Take care to get into corners and other small areas.

Step 3 - Rinse

Use a garden hose to rinse off stain stripper with a large amount of water. Use a power washer if extra cleaning is needed. Allow the deck to dry thoroughly for three to four days.

Step 4 - Sand

Use an orbital sander to remove any remaining stain and sand down any rough spots. Make sure you wear a dust mask while sanding.

Step 5 - Finish Up

Sweep or vacuum up any dust left from sanding to ensure a clean surface. You're now ready to apply a new stain or paint of your choice.

Sanding Only Method

Step 1 - Prepare

Start by vacuuming your deck thoroughly to make sure it's clean of dirt and debris. Make sure the deck is completely dry before beginning any sanding.

Step 2 - Sand the Deck

Rent a flat vibrating plate sander from your local tool rental store. Purchase backer pads and 80-grade sandpaper sheets for a smooth finish that will accept new paint or stain better. Wear a dust mask while sanding. Sand large areas of the deck with the vibrating plate sander, using a back and forth and side to side motion.

When the main area of the deck is sanded smooth and all stain is removed, use the palm sander to sand the edges, rails, and steps. You may want to wear knee pads for comfort.

Step 3 - Finish Up

Use a shop vac to vacuum up all the sanding dust from the deck. You can wet the deck down with a garden hose if desired, to make sure all dust is removed. Allow the deck to dry thoroughly for several days before refinishing if you use water.

When you need to remove stain from a wood deck, weigh your options and consider the amount of time, work, and expense that will be required. Either of these methods will result in a stain-free deck that can be refurbished with your choice of stain or paint, bringing new life to your old deck.