How to Strip a Deck

Last week I talked about the process I went through to decide what deck finish/protector I wanted to go with.  If you missed the 411 on Deck Stains you might want to read it first.  The reason I went through the process of all that research was because of this post – we stripped our deck.  If you have ever stripped a deck before you know my pain.  Stripping a deck is much more of a chore than stripping furniture.  Holy nelly!  It took my husband and I about 12 hours to prep the deck for stain.  So I thought I would give you a tutorial of the process in case you decide to tackle this project for yourself.





Home Right Command Max paint sprayer or roller

Wood Finish Remover (I used the Flood brand)

Power Washer (we rented it for about $75)


optional: Deck Brush

Step 1: Remove all items from the deck.  Sweep away debris with a push broom.

Step 2: With a hose or deck brush wash all the dirt off the deck.  Let it dry.

Step 3: Working in small sections spray or roll a wood finish remover onto the deck boards. I used about 3.5 bottles of Flood Wood Finish Remover for a 400 square foot deck.


You need to keep the area wet while the remover is working.  What Tim and I found easiest was to use our Home Right Command Max to spray one coat of the remover on.  As that began to dry I sprayed one more coat on.  Then I took a hose and lightly misted the surface when it began to dry so that it was always wet.  This is especially important if you work on a sunny, warm day.


Step 4: Now there is some debate on this but we used a power washer to remove the finish once the liquid wood finish remover did its work.  The reason why some people don’t like to use a power washer is because it can tend to gouge the wood.  You have to make sure you keep your power washer at a safe distance away from the wood to avoid gouges.  And most likely you will have to sand the deck to get the surface smooth again.  But it was worth it to us because using a scraper would have taken longer and I knew that the power washer would be able to strip every inch of the old solid stain we chose to use before.


So Tim and I tag-teamed this process.  While he was power washing I was working on a separate section spraying it with the Wood Finish remover and misting it to keep it wet.  THIS IS A PROCESS AND NOT FOR the FAINT OF HEART.  In fact, many times we were asking ourselves “Why the crap didn’t we hire this out?”

Step 5: After all the deck boards were all stripped and power washed we let it sit overnight to dry.  It was pretty hot so it was dry in the morning.  I ran my hand along the deck boards and it felt pretty rough. Now I could have gone and rented a sander to make the job quicker but instead I just used my palm sander with 100 grit sandpaper on it.  Now this definitely wasn’t the best and quickest option.  After 3 hours of sanding and an aching back and knees the deck was smooth and ready for stain.


Step 6: Do one last wash of the deck with a deck brush cleaner (mine is the Home Right Deck Washer flow through brush) or hose.  Let that dry.  With the Flood One Coat product there is no need to let it dry for days.  I just waited about 3 hours and then started applying the stain.


Three hours later the deck is ready for some stain.  I only stripped the deck boards and the top railing.  We decided for a number of reasons to paint the rails.  First of all I love the contrast of stain and paint and there was NO way I was taking the time to strip the rails – that would have added major time onto our already forever long project.


Stay tuned for the final reveal!  It looks so good!

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Disclaimer: This post contains some Amazon affiliate links…so feel free to shop. {giggle} I also received the Home Right Command Max and Deck Brush free in exchange for promotion on my blog. In addition, I received the Flood products and compensation for using their products.