Asked on Jul 3, 2019

Can you advise me how best to stain my deck?

Judy in Canton.Becky at Flipping the FlipEm


My deck is about 20 yrs old but still very sturdy, no splinters, etc. It's nearly never used. I had it pressure washed yesterday because it was REALLY dirty -- the floor was nearly black. I never stained it after it was built but now want to. I have 3 questions. 1) As you see in the photo, the color is uneven. The lighter area is where the table was sitting. I'm wondering if I use a brush and OxyClean if I can make the darker areas as light as the light parts. A brush wasn't used yesterday. 2) The fellow who cleaned it suggested I use a solid color stain. I've never liked the idea of a solid color because I like natural wood and like to see the grain. But if all of the dark won't come off, then I probably have to use solid to make it look nice, right? As you see in the other photo, the vertical parts look much lighter than the rest. Any chance the floor can be made that light? 3) If the dark DOES come out, would a semi-transparent or even a transparent protectant be OK? I've read that the solid is longer lasting.

q need suggestions for staining my deck
q need suggestions for staining my deck
4 answers
  • Kelli L. Milligan
    on Jul 3, 2019

    I'd take these pics,to a stand alone paint store. See what products they recommend. They will know what works best for your project and climate.

  • Em
    on Jul 3, 2019

    Common laundry bleach or chlorine will effectively remove stain or dye color from wood, but will not affect the wood’s natural color.

    • “Two part” A/B peroxide-based bleaches refer to sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) and hydrogen peroxide. Combined, they cause a chemical reaction that creates bleach that will blanch the stain color and can also alter the color of the wood itself.

    • Oxalic acid will remove water and rust stains, plus teak stain, and can be used to lighten the graying effect of weather-exposed wood. But note: Some restorers consider oxalic acid highly toxic, since the crystal form it typically comes in can be inhaled and cause lung bleeding. Many recommend using the A/B bleach for safer practices and greater overall bleaching power.

    I am sure you will get a bunch of people telling you to use Thompson's water seal. I used twice and it peeled in a year. Choose another brand if you choose to use a sealer.

  • The reason the solid color stain was suggested is because the wood is essentially so “old” if you will. You could try a deck cleaner/brightener on the spots, see what happens. Ask at the paint counter if you can get away with a semi-transparent but they’ll likely suggest otherwise.

  • Judy in Canton.
    on Jul 3, 2019

    My deck was discolored like yours but we also used a product that was for cleaning decks with pressure washers and it made a big difference. A few boards are a little darker but I'm Ok with it because it will all eventually gray. We are going to use an oil based clear sealer made by Cabot and Rustoleum.

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