How To Remove Solid Stain From Wood Deck: Step By Step Guide

Whether your deck has seen too many different coats of stain, or you’re looking to give it a facelift for the first time, it’s important to know some of the basics when it comes to removing an old coat of stain.

There are a lot of methods you can do at home to get the old stain out. Stripping a deck of stain is a little more complicated than stripping paint. Deck paint can peel off easily after time, but removing solid stain from an old deck requires a bit of elbow grease. However, with suitable tools and proper steps, this is an easy DIY home project for beginners. 

removing deck stain from wood deck

Identify the Deck Stain Type

First, it’s essential to understand the four deck stain categories: transparent, semi-transparent, semi-solid, and solid. These are a scale determining how much of the natural wood grain shows through. Solid deck stain is the most opaque and typically takes more work to remove than transparent stains of the same brand. The same methods that work to remove solid stains will work for transparent stains as well.

Identify The Type of Deck Wood

Before you take any steps for this DIY project, start with some research. Figure out what material your deck is made out of. Is it pine, redwood, or cedar? When was the last time it was stained? How old is the wood of your deck? Whether you do it yourself or hire a contractor, these are some of the first things you should know.

Get the Right Gear

Removing deck stain requires the proper materials. On average, a professional will typically approach the project with these tools and materials on hand, which you might find useful: 

Tools

  • Dust Mask
  • Knee Pads
  • Paint Brush or Paint Scraper
  • Rags
  • Safety Glasses
  • Work Gloves
  • Stripping Disks

Materials

  • Deck Remover/Deck Stripper
  • Deck Cleaner
  • Masking Tape
  • Plastic Tarp
  • Deck Conditioner
  • New Stain or Finish
  • Wood Brightener

Having the right tools and materials to get the job done makes the whole process go more smoothly and ensures safety. Goggles, gloves, knee pads, and masks are important to protect the eyes, skin, joints, and lungs. This is why sometimes it’s better for a professional to undertake this process, so you don’t have to worry about damaging your deck, and more importantly, your health.

You should use a deck cleaner to remove any dirt or grime for the deck before you start. As a side note, some people also use a pressure washer to help remove stains from a deck. While pressure washing is certainly not a bad thing if you do it right, it can damage your deck if you aren't careful or don't know how to use a pressure washer. 

Steps to Remove Old Solid Stain From Wood Deck

old deck stain

Step 1: Scrub 

Scrape off as much of the old deck stain as possible. Use a paint scraper or stiff brush to help remove stain. If any nails are sticking out from the wood surface, put them back in place with a nail gun or hammer. Tape down the edges of the siding and other nearby areas you don’t want the deck finish remover to get on, pour the specific deck stain stripper on, leave it for 15-30 minutes, and then start scrubbing the old stain off again.

Step 2: Sand 

After using the stain remover, it’s time to sand! Most professionals will use an electric sander to get the best results. Be careful not to oversand, as this could cause an uneven finish. Done right, this will leave your deck ready for a fresh coat of paint, primer, or stain. Sanding is an important process, since when done right it makes it much easier when applying a new stain. 

Keep Extra Product On-Hand for Touch-Ups

After your deck is fully dry, there may be some spots that don’t match the rest of the wood. Don’t sweat it. It never hurts to keep some extra supplies and materials on hand with every house project, even after the project concludes. In this case, some extra stripping disks, paint, deck stain remover, and the stain itself are must-haves for keeping your deck in tip-top shape. 

You might also want to consider buying some wood deck brightener. When you pressure wash the deck or scrub to hard, some of the deck might be looking a little old or rusty. Wood deck brightener helps give it a new shine. It's also pretty simple to apply. You just follow the same steps you did for applying the wood stain. 

So, now that you know the basics, removing solid stain from your deck will be much easier, and you’ll be better prepared for doing this home improvement project or hiring home improvement contractors to breathe new life into your deck.

Photo of author

Jon Jordan

Jon Jordan is a licensed home improvement contractor in Washington at Evergreen Home Exteriors, a family-owned and -operated remodeling company that has been serving homeowners since 1998. In addition to working on exterior projects such as decking, siding, and roofing, he and his team have completed a wide range of kitchen and bathroom remodels.