Last Updated on February 26, 2022 by Jason K. Long
If you would make a visual assessment of any wooden deck that had seen no refinishing for two years, you would readily notice some wear and tear, chafing, and scratches on it. These damages are only natural because the wooden deck had been continuously used and exposed to harsh outdoor elements like UV rays and rains for many years. However, if you like to restore its pristine colors and condition, you need to refinish it.
Refinishing would require you to strip it of its previous stains using a deck stripper. Of course, you can seal the wood decks with different types of finishes, depending on your preference. You can choose, for example, semi-transparent stain or settle for a full-latex paint. The trick is to refinish your wood deck every two to five years, depending on your area’s climate.
Table of Contents
- Different Types of Deck Stain Remover
- The Best Deck Strippers in The Market Today
- Essential Factors to Consider When Buying a Deck Stripper
- Benefits of Using Stain Strippers
- Steps on Using a Deck Stripper
Different Types of Deck Stain Remover
As mentioned above, cleaning wood and prepping it for refinishing requires the use of deck strippers. If it is your first time stripping wooden deck stain, you might get confused during the selection process. So, it will be best to know the different types of deck stain remover options at hand so that you can make a good choice of deck stain remover:
1) Solvent-based Stain Stripper
If you are looking for a powerful stain stripper, you might as well consider solvent-based strippers. Examples of solvent-based strippers are alcohol, acetone, toluene, and methylene chloride. One disadvantage of using this type of stripper is that it is toxic. It is made of chemicals that can be injurious or harmful to you or the environment.
So, when handling a solvent-based stain stripper, you should handle it with care and follow the label instructions. Methylene chloride, for example, has been banned in some countries. So, you may as well check if you can use this chemical in your place for your wood decks.
2) Caustic Stain Stripper
Caustic stain strippers work differently when used in removing deck stains. It works by raising the previous finish’s PH level, which, in turn, weakens or softens the wood substrate and the finish. Hence, you can remove the old finish quickly using caustic agents.
One compound which caustic strippers have is Sodium Hydroxide which works well against the existing deck stain. Caustic agents can be very effective and quick in removing existing finishes. They can work against multiple layers of stains and paints.
To use the caustic agent, you need to apply it on the wood deck boards and leave it there for up to a maximum of one hour. Check the label guidelines to see how long you should leave the caustic agent on the boards.
The caustic agents transform the old finish into a different substance. Hence, it enables chemical reactions during the stripping process. Thus, you should be very careful when handling this type of deck stripper. The famous examples of caustic agents are lye and oxalic acid.
3) Biochemical Deck Stain Stripper
Another option is the use of a biochemical stain stripper. This stripper doesn’t contain harsh chemicals and may not be that harmful to you compared to the aforementioned types of stain strippers. Hence, you are not required to wear a respirator or mask when applying it. However, the downside of its use is the long waiting period it requires to maximize the effectiveness of this agent.
When applying this stripping agent, you need to ensure that the surface is soaked or wet with this solution for three days or more. This long waiting period may not be suitable for those who are impatient and busy.
Moreover, you need to time your application of these stain strippers on days that will see no rain. Otherwise, the waiting process becomes futile if the rain soaks the application during the waiting period.
Of course, the biochemical strippers are safer for the environment. Moreover, it elicits fewer bad odors. Some examples of these strippers include soy oil, lactic acid, citric acid, wood-pulp extract, and terpenes from pine or citrus.
The Best Deck Strippers in The Market Today
Given the strong and consistent demands for wood deck strippers, you will find many deck stripper’s brands in the market today, which makes choosing a bit confusing. To facilitate the choosing process for you, we have listed, based on testing and reviews from experts, the most recommended deck strippers in the market today:
Last update on 2022-06-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
1) DEFY Exterior Wood Stain Stripper
One excellent wood deck stripper that you should check out is the DEFY Exterior Stripper. It facilitates the removal of old stains and paint. It is quite easy to apply. You only need to spray it on the wood surface using a sprayer. Afterward, you can rinse the wood surface using a power washer.
It is not designed to remove solid stains and paints. Nevertheless, since it can remove mill glaze, stains, and dirt, it can restore the wood’s original beauty.
When it comes to preparing this wood stripper, you need not do any mixing for it is ready to use. You can use a pump spray to apply it on the surface. This product is certified safe to use on any type of wood.
- Its ease of use is commendable since it is already pre-mixed.
- It is affordable.
- It is hard to apply and may not be effective on a vertical surface.
- It may fail to remove paint and solid stains.
2) Dumond Chemicals 3332 Smart Strip
The Dumond Chemicals 3332 comes with a biodegradable formulation that makes it safe to use for anyone and is environmentally friendly. It is formulated to remove multiple layers of stains. Moreover, it is odor-free, making it ideal for use by those with allergies to strong odors. It is also water-based, which makes it easy for you to remove it.
Because of its biodegradable formula, it is non-carcinogenic and is free from harmful chemicals. It comes in a one-quart can and in paste form. You need to apply the paste on the deck using a roller and leave the paste for three to twenty-four hours. Afterward, you can start scraping off the paste, taking off likewise the existing finish.
- It is not expensive.
- It is safe with no harmful chemicals.
- It is also pH neutral.
- You should scrape it off the surface instead of using a pressure washer to remove it.
- It takes more time to be effective.
3) Extreme Solutions EC38 Wood Cleaner & Stripper
This EC38 Stripper is a caustic stripper capable of doing fantastic stripping of old stains. It is a cleaner and a wood stripper at the same time. Using this caustic stripper, you can clean moss-covered decks to any type of deck to prepare the deck for refinishing.
It comes in a dry powder. To prepare this stripper, you need to mix it with water (warm) to create a paste. Then, you can apply the paste on the surface using a roller or brush. Afterward, you can rinse the surface using a pressure washer.
The downsides of this very effective product include its expensive price tag, and you need to take extra precautions when applying this product because it contains strong chemicals. You need to wear your PPE when applying this product. You also need something to brighten up the surface, and you may need more of this product when cleaning and prepping larger decks.
- It is effective and quick in stripping stains and needs only thirty minutes.
- It can remove various types of stains, including semi-transparent stains.
- You may need a brightener after using this caustic solution.
- You must also take extra care when applying this solution.
- It is expensive.
4) #1 Deck Wood Stain Stripper
The #1 Deck Wood Stain Stripper requires no further mixing so that you can use it quickly. It comes in a one-gallon container that can cover up to 150 square feet of wood. It is easy to apply and can do away with clear and semi-transparent stain and weathered sealer. It is easy to apply. All you need is a garden sprayer or a paintbrush.
Afterward, you only leave the solution for up to an hour to let it penetrate the wood. You can wash it off using a pressure washer.
One caveat, however, when using this stain stripper is that you should not let the solution dry after applying it. It is advisable likewise to apply the solution during a cool day to prevent quick drying. The stripper will do away with algae, mold, dirt, and mildew. Nevertheless, it will fail to remove solid-colored stains and paint.
- It is easy to use and requires less time.
- It can’t work well with solid stains and paints.
5) Woodrich Heavy Duty Wood Stripper
The Woodrich Wood Stripper is another caustic stripper that you can get in two types of containers (two-pounder and ten-pounder). This stripper is better than most strippers because it can remove paints and solid stains. You simply need to mix hot water with this dry powder. Afterward, you can apply it using a roller or brush.
You can then remove it within an hour. You can remove it using a pressure washer.
The thing is, you will need a brightener after using this. Another thing is that it is toxic. So, you need to take extra precautions and wear PPE when using it. It also requires two applications to get optimum results from it.
- It is an effective caustic stripper.
- It works in under an hour.
- It can remove paints and solid stains.
- It is toxic and not environmentally friendly.
- It requires the use of brightener after use.
Essential Factors to Consider When Buying a Deck Stripper
When choosing the type of deck stripper, you may get confused, given the different kinds of strippers and brands in the market today. If you know, however, the following essential factors to look for in a stripper, you may breeze through the choosing process and quickly zero in on the right type of desk stripper:
One essential factor you need to consider when choosing a deck stripper is the stripper type. You’ve learned that there are different types of strippers, and the use of each type comes with advantages and disadvantages. So, you need to weigh carefully which kind of stripper you would use.
If you don’t want to contribute, for example, to the degradation of the environment, go for the biodegradable deck stripper. Using this type will also let you do away with the risks concomitant with the use of toxic chemicals.
On the other hand, you can go for a different and stronger type of deck stripper but risk damaging the environment and injuring you in the process.
Determine Your Purpose
If your primary purpose is to strip old paint from your deck, you might as well go for paint remover instead of a deck stripper. Deck strippers are not specifically made for removing paint. The paint remover will be more effective in doing so.
The deck stripper only emulsifies and disperses the molecules of the stains within the wood. Thus, it can clean the wooden deck perfectly. Nevertheless, it will fail to remove the paint altogether. But paint remover can surely do so.
Methods of Applications
Different types of strippers may necessitate other methods of application. These methods are usually dependent on how the stripper is formulated. You’ll find desk strippers that are in powder form, which you need to mix with water. On the other hand, you will find the formulations that are premixed and are ready to use.
So, you can always choose depending on your preference. Additionally, there are also various types of removing the applications. Some applications need to be scraped, while others need to be cleansed using a pressure washer.
Period of Applications
Various applications and formulae of deck strippers require different periods before cleaning or removing the stain and strippers. Some require a day or more of waiting for the solution to emulsify and disperse the stains effectively. Some formulations only require an hour to emulsify and disperse the stain effectively. Others, however, require less than an hour.
Benefits of Using Stain Strippers
Anything that is used more often and exposed to harsh elements of the outdoors usually needs more meticulous maintenance than those which are used indoors. The wood deck, being exposed to the harsh outdoor elements, day-in and day-out, will surely not escape the effects of these elements. So, you need to refinish these decks every two to five years, depending on the condition of the wood decks. The use of deck stain stripper will come in handy when prepping the surface for refinishing. The use of a deck stain stripper comes with the following advantages:
It Cleans and Removes Varnishes & paint from the Wood’s Surface.
When refinishing the wood deck, sometimes, you will choose a different stain, and for this reason, you need to get the wood back to its original natural state. If you only put paint on the deck without stripping its previous stain, chances are, the result will not be satisfying. So, the stain stripper ensures that you can do away with the previous stain and all its vestiges before applying the new wood stain.
It prepares the wood for the new coating.
You can achieve smooth and without blemish results, if you use the stripper to remove the previous stain. Moreover, it facilitates the removal process of stain. You also have various options of strippers at hand.
It’s More Receptive to Pre-existing Paint
It is not easy to remove paint from wood decks. The reason for this is that the pre-existing paint had sealed off the pores of the wood. So, if you don’t use strippers to remove them and apply the new paint, chances are, you will see black spots on the paint that may not be satisfying to look at.
As you apply wood deck strippers onto the painted surface, it penetrates deep within the layers of old paint, deep into the wooden pores, and weakens and dissolves the old paint. Hence, you can assure yourself that you can spread the paint uniformly across the surface when applying a new paint color.
Steps on Using a Deck Stripper
To maximize the use of a deck stripper, you need to apply it correctly on the deck surface. You likewise need to follow the guidelines provided in the labels to ensure optimum results. It doesn’t require exceptional skills to use deck stripper, for its use is fairly straightforward. But before you engage in the following steps, you also need to be cognizant of the safety tips when applying deck strippers:
- The first step in applying deck strippers is the cleaning and preparation process of the area that you would like to strip. When cleaning, you need to remove objects that may hinder you from correctly applying the deck stripper.
- Before applying the deck stripper, you need to test it in a small area to see its effect. In this way, you will have an inkling of how effective the deck strippers will be.
- Afterward, you can apply the deck stripper on the deck surface and let it seep onto the wood for 30 to 60 minutes. Some stains may take longer. So, make sure to follow the guidelines in the manual.
- Once the allotted time had elapsed, you can begin to remove the strippers. Follow the instructions on how to remove the strippers. If it requires scraping, then you should scrape it. If it requires using a pressure washer, then use the pressure washer.
- When done with the cleaning, allow the deck to dry out entirely before applying the stain or paint of your choice.
Whiling away your time on your deck is one of the best ways to get a feel of the outdoors without leaving your house. However, it is easy to neglect the deck, and over time, the deck may look worn out. The only way to bring back the natural beauty of your deck is by refinishing it. Deck, as mentioned above, requires refinishing every two to five years. Mold and mildew may build on the deck surface over time, and without refinishing, it will look shabby and unkempt.
You need to effectively clean the deck first and strip it of its old stain or paint before you can refinish it. As long as you know the aforementioned tips and the best strippers you can find in the market today, you can always zero in on the suitable deck stripper to jumpstart the refinishing process of your deck.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker and carpenter who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.