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Are the cleaner, stripper, and brightener really necessary?

We have found that using the cleaner or stripper followed by the brightener creates an ideal surface for staining. If you want to get the maximum lifespan out of your deck stain, proper prep is essential. In addition to making the stain last longer, the prep products will remove previous stains, remove mill scale (the crushing of the grain that happens during the milling process), brighten the wood, and create a more uniform stain application.

What should I use, the cleaner or the stripper?

If the wood is new, or the surface has simply grayed, use #1 Deck Wood Cleaner. It’s a safe, oxygenated bleach powder that is mixed with water. It will deep clean the wood, and remove graying, mill scale, and stains caused by mold or mildew. If the wood has a previous finish on it that is still holding up in some areas or is peeling, use #1 Deck Wood Stain Stripper. This product will remove weathered, oil or water based stains. Note: #1 Deck Wood Stain Stripper will not remove paint. For painted surfaces, you will need to use either a sander, or paint stripper.

Why is the brightener necessary?

#1 Deck Wood Brightener does two things. First, it brightens the wood and brings it back to it’s new appearance. Second, it neutralizes the surface. The Wood Cleaner and Stain Stripper are both very alkaline. The Wood Brightener is at the opposite end of the ph scale, and is very acidic. This balances things out to create a neutral ph surface, which is ideal for the stain. If it’s too acidic, or too alkaline, you could see premature stain failure.

Why do I have to wait months for pressure treated lumber to dry out?

When boards go through the pressure treating process, they’re infused with chemicals that help preserve them. The chemicals saturate the wood, making it difficult for stain to absorb. It takes a few months for the wood to dry out so the stain can soak in completely.

What about pressure treated lumber that has been kiln dried? Do I still have to let it weather?

To be safe, you should still let kiln dried wood weather for a few months. Even though the moisture content has been removed by the kiln drying process, some manufacturers will add a water repellent to the wood, which will repel water-based stains. Letting the wood weather will allow the water repellent time to break down so the wood can accept stain.

Why do I have to let new cedar and redwood weather for a year?

While cedar and redwood are softwoods, they are oily in nature. Allowing the wood to weather for a year helps the wood dry out and become more absorbent, making it less likely to repel water-based stains.

How long should I wait between coats?

Keeping in mind that you don’t want to apply in direct sunlight, you’ll want to apply the second coat within 20-30 minutes of applying the first coat. You’ll want the first coat to be slightly damp, but not so much that you leave footprints.

Can I apply more than 2 coats?

Applying more than the recommended 2 coats could cause a surface film to build, resulting in peeling. If the finish appears shiny, you may have over-applied the stain.

Can I use #1 Deck stain on hardwoods like mahogany or Ipe?

#1 Deck Premium Wood Stain is ideally suited for softwoods, especially pressure treated lumber. While you can apply it to hardwoods, you should plan on re-applications at least once a year. The extremely dense nature of hardwoods makes it difficult for any stain to absorb. Most stains advertised “for hardwoods” typically don’t even last a year. While they are beautiful, hardwood decks require annual maintenance to keep them looking nice.

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