How to Strip Deck Stain

What You'll Need
Belt sander
Medium grit sandpaper
Fine grit sandpaper
Wood stripper
Rubber gloves (elbow length)
Safety glasses
Sponge or rag

It is a common occurrence for people in the market for a home to find a deck whose shape and size they love and whose deck stain they don’t like so much. Rather than tear down the deck or pass up the home entirely, some potential buyers will decide that they’d rather strip the deck stain themselves and change the color. If you can see past the stain on the deck and look at the construction itself, you might be inclined to change the color to something that suits your design tastes.

Step 1 – Sand Deck

The first thing to do when you want to strip the stain off of your wooden deck is to sand the wood down. You want to pull up at least 2/3 of the color. Always sand with the grain and not against it. The direction of your belt sander should be parallel with the woodgrain, going from end to end rather than side to side.

After you’ve sanded the deck down that far, it’s time to sand it again with the fine grit sandpaper to make sure you pull up as much color as you can. You also want to buff out the roughness of the medium grit sandpaper.
Whew! You must be aching by now. You can take a break shortly, rest assurred.

Step 2 – Apply Stripper

Wood stripper is sort of like paint stripper or bleach, but for wood. It’s designed and formulated to go into the fibers of the wood and pull things out of it. The purpose of sanding so much is to make sure that the stripper has to work as little as possible, because as it sits on the wood and pulls up color it might put some back in because of an abundance of pigment concentration.

Check with the directions on the back of your wood stripper container, and check on how long it has to sit there before you wipe the surface off. Times will vary with different products. Wearing your goggles, mask, and rubber gloves,  apply your stripper with the grain with your rag. Moving in the direction of the wood grain, wipe it into the planks, taking care to wet them, but not to soak them.

Walk away and take a break for as long as the wood stripper’s manufacturer says to. When that time is up, go back and wipe the surface clean. Some of these products are instantaneous, so make sure that you read the directions.

That’s it, you’ve got bare wood ready for new stain, paint, or sealant. There might be some pigment left in the wood, but it shouldn’t be enough to interfere or change the color of any stain or paint you put on top of it. Now you can decide how you want to re-seal, stain, or paint your wood deck.