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Here’s How to Strip a Deck and give it a fresh look. 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.



  • Broom
  • Home Right Command Max paint sprayer or roller
  • Wood Finish Remover (I used the Flood brand)
  • Power Washer (we rented it for about $75)
  • Hose
  • optional: Deck Brush

Step By Step Tutorial on How to Strip a Deck

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. 


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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  1. Oh honey. You should have shared your plans ahead of time. In about 5 years you’ll regret painting those spindles with every ounce of your being. Trust me. So speaks the voice of experience. We said to ourselves “We won’t be in this house in 5 years. It’ll be the new owner’s problem.” 12 years later…. LOL

  2. Yes I know they will chip and peel. But we really had no choice unless we wanted to strip them. So either way we are in the same boat in 5 years as we were now.

  3. You’ll enjoy when done…and done you will be for lots of memories…so enjoy…and we all need a lit excersise right.

  4. You may already know this, but just wanted to say to use an opaque stain (which will look like paint) on the spindles and not house paint. Much less likely to flake. I don’t think you’ll have to strip the rails–just pressure wash them well. I just restained our deck along with our surly 14-year-old 😉 It was a lot of work.

  5. Thank you so much, Beckie, for posting this step by step tutorial! We have been retaining our deck with a solid stain at least 3 times a year because after a few months it’s starts chipping again! I’ve been wanting to get all the stain off to start all over, but I didn’t know how to attempt it. I had been honestly thinking of just belt sanding the entire thing and boy the thought of that was not good! Now after reading your tutorial I’m ready to tackle the deck! Thanks Beckie!!

  6. This is great! Stripping and staining/painting my deck has been on the to-do list for a looong time. Question, though. My deck was painted – would I just use regular paint remover instead of that Flood stuff? Thanks!

    Oh, and I plan on staining the deck and painting the rails too! I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one with that idea. I worried it would look kinda crazy, since I haven’t ever seen a deck like that :). Can’t wait to see how yours turns out!

  7. Good luck friend! It is hard work but worth it in the the end. Then just buy a semi transparent stain and you will just have to touch it up when it fades. Way better than the chipping problem we Hoosiers get with the solid stain.

  8. I couldn’t use that because it already has solid stain on it. I would have had to strip it. So I did use exterior paint. I know I will have to strip them one day but now is not that day. HA! I just wanted to be done.

  9. Ackkkkkkkk…..I so wish I would have seen this on Monday.

    We have a stain disaster and could not find a product to take it off. Two questions…

    How did you get it off between the boards?
    How long did you let the Flood product sit before power washing?
    Where can I find this product in Indy?


  10. You can find it at Glidden or Home Depot. I would say we let it sit for about 15 minutes but make sure it stays wet. We rented a power washer and that worked great to get it off the crevices. Good luck, it ain’t fun.

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