Do I Need to Remove Old Stain Before Restaining a Deck?

Image of peeling stain, answers the question, Do I Need to Remove Old Stain Before Restaining a Deck?Deck stains are essential to your wooden structures; they offer protection and enhance the natural beauty of the wood. Transparent and semi transparent deck stains expose the wood grain giving a more natural look. What if you are looking to restain a previously stained deck? You are probably asking yourself this question, do I need to remove old stain before restaining a deck?

Yes, it would be best if you stripped, remove the old stain before you restain. If the stain on the surface of your deck is old, worn out and peeling, the first thing you should do in your quest to renew the deck is to remove all the old stain. 

Solid deck stains offer much-needed protection to the wood. Besides, it looks incredible when new, as you’d expect, with time the stain flakes and wears away.

How Can I Tell Whether My Deck Needs Stripping Before Restaining?

  • Previously Stained Using Solid Stain

If you had initially coated your deck with a solid deck stain and you want to determine whether or not you should strip the surface, use a sharp blade to cut a small light ‘X’ in several spots on the surface of your deck high and low traffic regions. Avoid cutting the surface of the wood. 

After cutting those ‘X’ marks, use duct tape to cover them and rub down firmly. Follow this by a quick peeling of the tape. If you see flakes of the stain on the tape, you will have to strip your deck before you restain. You can use paint strippers for wood to remove the stains.

  • Previously Stain Using Semi transparent Deck Stain.

If previously you used a semi transparent deck stain in the coating of your deck, you need first to clean it thoroughly and allow it to dry in the air for four hours or more.

Follow the above procedure by pouring a small amount of water on areas of high traffic of the deck as well as areas that see less traffic. If you notice the water beading up (burst into tiny drops) then remains there, it means there’s a lot of stains, and you will need stripping. If you notice the water remains in a puddle then starts to absorb into the wood in 10 minutes or less, then it means the layer has worn off enough for you to restain without necessarily stripping.

How to Restain Previously Stained Deck 

Staining a previously stained wooden deck surface is a process that involves steps. It would help if you got these steps right for you to end up with the best finish possible on your projects. 

These steps include:

Step One: Cleaning the Surface of the Deck

It is the very first and the most essential step towards achieving a perfect restaining. It would be best if you cleaned the deck. If, by chance, you are a pressure washer for the cleaning, begin the process from the corner as you move across the deck, make multiple passes over every section in the process. After you are through, allow the deck to dry for 72 hours. As soon as it dries, sweep it off one last time. The sweeping will see that you do not stain on top of dust particles. Dust prevents proper adhesion between the stain and the surface of the wood; that why we insist on cleaning.

In case you have no pressure washer, you can clean the surface of the deck using a top-quality deck cleaner. Even if you are going to use a deck cleaner, you will need to sweep the deck and remove any possible dust present on the surface that you intend to stain. 

Follow the above step by applying a layer of the deck cleaner over the surface of the deck. During the penetration, the cleaner removes dust particles present on the wood, mildew, mold, algae, leaf marks, and any other stains present. Rinse the deck cleaner using [lenty of water and allow the deck to dry properly before proceeding with the subsequent step. 

Step Two: Deck Sanding and Stripping 

Inspect your deck; you might notice rough areas. Sand these uneven surfaces. For sanding, you can use sandpaper or wood sanders Imperfections such as peels would need sanding because staining over them would lead to further peeling off of the new layer. 

Alternatively, you can use a paint stripper, especially if you are looking to have a more even surface.

Step Three: Staining of the Deck

It is at this point that you do your staining, you should know that the kind of wood stain that you use determines the number of coats that you shall apply to your deck.

If you are using a semi-transparent stain, for example, you only need to apply a single coat using a quality roller, paint sprayer or a brush. For the case of solid color stains, you’ll need to apply up to two layers with the help of a roller or paintbrush.

NOTE: You must apply thin coats when staining your deck.

Step Four: Touch Up 

After staining all of your deck surfaces, you need to ensure that every part is covered in the process, the only way to do that is through back brushing.

Video showing steps towards restaining a previously stained wood:

Importance of Removing Old Stain Before Restaining

Before you apply a new stain to your previously stained wooden deck, it is important that you strip off the old stain. It might look like a casual step, but it comes with a lot of benefits. Such benefits include:

  • Removals of dust particles
  • Some strippers play a role in the killing of molds and mildew
  • Improves adhesion between wood and the stain


Do I Need to Remove Old Stain Before Restaining a Deck 

Yes, it is important to remove the layer of old stain from your deck if you are looking to restain and give it a new and fresh appearance. When you remove the old stains, you are making it easy for your formula to adhere properly to the surface of the wood, avoid easy peeling and flaking.

We hope that the information we have provided in this article would be beneficial to your quest, especially if you want to restrain your weathered wood. Kindly share your experience restaining an old deck with us by leaving an opinion in the comment section below.

Image of a woodworker wearing hearing protectors for woodworking

Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

2 thoughts on “Do I Need to Remove Old Stain Before Restaining a Deck?”

  1. daniel seadler

    thanks for your comments I was staining my rails and drops fell om my planks do I apply a second coat, semi cabot stain, also small section show green algae coming through di I aopply another coat on that as well

    1. Wood Critique

      Greetings Daniel,

      There are two effective ways of removing stain spillage from your planks.
      First, get to it while it’s still fresh, at this point you can easily dab it off using an absorbent cloth.
      Second, if you missed applying the first step, allow the stain drops to harden, then chip it off.

      On the issue of algae appearing on your wooden structure, one simplest way of eliminating algae is by pressure washing.
      Alternatively, you can use a deck cleaner such as Wet and Forget 800003 Wet And Forget Moss Mold Mildew & Algae Stain Remover.

      I hope you find this reply helpful. Feel free to ask any other questions.


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