I have an old deck that was stained 3 years ago. Some of the stains have come off and the deck does not really look good (living in Canada with too much snow and temperature changes, I don't blame it!)

So I am planning to stain it this summer. In order to clean/remove the old stain, I came across multiple options: - Use paint stripper and leave it for 15 min and then wash it off with hose - Use a sander - Use a pressure washer

Which one should I use? Perhaps a combination or perhaps all of them?

I read so many websites talking about different ways and I am confused

Your help is appreciated


2 Answers 2


I use a combination on my deck projects.

I always use a stain remover solution to take care of as much of the prep work as possible. A stiff brush will help loosen dirt and grime. Be careful if you rinse with the power washer as you don't want to damage the wood. I use a 40° tip. After that, use a brightener to neutralize the stripping agents in step one. Let the deck dry out for at least a couple of days then hit with a sander. Focus on using the sander to remove any remaining stain first, then use it to smooth out planks and railing last. Blow off the dust and you're ready for stain.

As an aside, new deck restore products are being used more and more these days. These are the thick coatings that are applied to weathered wood. I used DeckCorrect from Cabots a couple of times last year and I liked the results. The type of stain (semi-transparent or solid) that you plan on using will also affect the amount of prep you need to do prior to stain application. Solid stains are more forgiving when it comes prep work needed.

Whatever stain you select, the reps in my area say maintenance is needed every 1 to 2 years nowadays. Long gone are the 3 to 5 years re-coat days.

  • Thank you , What kind of Sander do you use (belt sander , hand sander, the large area sanders)? Also what Grit level do you use?
    – Snake
    Apr 26, 2017 at 5:12
  • I use an orbital sander but a sheet sander works well too. Start off with a 80 grit to spot-sand areas that contain remnants of the old stain. Once that's done I blow off the dust and I run the length of the planks with 100 grit to ensure an even surface. A sanding block with 80 and 100 grit paper will also be used to get into tight spaces and corners.
    – Steve D.
    Apr 26, 2017 at 15:58

For a Job like this I prefer using a sander... like the ones for wood flooring as opposed to the chemicals of stripper. Too much mess with stripper, not only that the stripper will seep between the boards and remove that stain and also get stuck in those places too. Too much clean and prep with stripper - not too mention what I was that stuff off into or on to.

  • 1
    Agreed. Stripper is for places or things you can't sand, or it has a 1/4" thick coat of pant. Otherwise I just buy more sandpaper.
    – Mazura
    Jul 10, 2017 at 22:59

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