Do I Need to Remove Old Stain Before Restaining a Deck?

Last Updated on October 17, 2022 by Ernest Godia

Do I need to remove old stain before restaining a deck? This is a common question among homeowners because even though you may want it to last forever, your deck stain will wear out with time. And you must decide how to refinish the weathered deck. 

The older deck stain may fade, become discolored, develop patches, or have unwanted marks, making you want to renew it with a fresh stain coat. 

This article helps answer the question about refinishing a deck and provides the steps to follow when restaining your deck.

Do I Need to Remove Old Stain Before Re-Staining a Deck?

Ultimately, the answer comes down to personal preferences and the condition of your deck. If the current stain is still in relatively good shape and you want to maintain the deck color, there’s no need to strip off the old coat. 

However, if you want to change the color of your deck or the old stain is noticeably worn out, removing it will help ensure the new one goes on evenly and lasts longer.

When Is It Necessary to Remove the Old Stain?

If you are switching to a different brand, type, or color of stain, it is always best to remove the old coat first. This will ensure that the new stain coat will adhere properly and give the desired results. 

Also, if the stain is peeling or flaking off, it will be better to remove it before applying a new stain coat.

How Often Should I Restain My Deck?

The frequency of restaining depends on the type of stain you use and the climate in your area–the amount of sunlight and moisture your deck receives. 

Generally, most deck stains will need to be removed after two to three years. If you live in an area with a lot of sun and heat, you may need to remove and reapply your deck stain more frequently. 

Deck stains also fade, crack, or peel over time, leaving your deck vulnerable to moisture and UV damage. Applying a fresh stain coat sooner can help to protect it from weathering and keep it looking its best.

What Type of Stain Should I Use to Restain My Deck? 

When choosing a product for restaining your deck, considering certain factors can help ensure optimal results. 

Some factors to consider when selecting your deck stain include the following:

  • The age of your deck
  • The condition of your deck stain
  • The type of wood you want to stain

If your deck is relatively new and in good condition, you may want to go with a clear or transparent stain. Transparent stains allow the wood’s natural grain to show through, ideal for a high-quality material whose beauty you want to retain and highlight. 

On the other hand, a semi-transparent or solid stain may be your best option if your deck is older or in poor condition. These wood stain types better cover imperfections and provide more protection against UV rays and weathering. 

How to Restain Your Deck Without Removing Old Stain (Step-By-Step)

If you’re looking to give your deck a fresh look without having to remove the old stain, this guide is for you. 

Gather the tools and materials below, then follow the step-by-step guide to prepare your deck and apply new stain coats on top of the old deck stain.

What You’ll Need:

  • Broom or bristle brush
  • Paintbrush or roller
  • Sandpaper (medium-grit)
  • Cotton rag
  • Deck brightener
  • Deck stain of choice
  • Deck cleaner or detergent


Step 1: Sweep the deck to remove dust

Before you start staining, you’ll want to sweep your deck to remove any dust or debris on the surface. 

You don’t want your new coat of deck stain trapping any dust and debris, creating a rough and uneven finish. 

Step 2: Clean the deck

After sweeping the deck, it’s time to clean it. You can use a power washer with an all-purpose deck cleaner or basic detergent. Alternatively, you can prepare a homemade deck cleaner solution using warm water and vinegar. 

Be careful not to wash too much or use too much pressure that strips away the old stain. However, ensure you rinse it thoroughly to remove all the soap and dirt.

Step 3: Sand the surface lightly

Once the deck is clean, you’ll need to sand the surface lightly to rough it up and provide the desired grip and adherence for the new stain.

A power sander will be necessary if your deck is big, but you can use a hand sander for smaller or hard-to-reach areas. Be careful not to sand too much or too aggressively since you don’t want to strip away the old stain coat.

Step 4: Apply deck brightener

After sanding the surface of your deck, it’s time to apply a deck brightener. As the name suggests, the product helps restore some shine to your decking boards, making them brighter again. 

The deck brightener works by lowering the pH of the deck wood, brightening it up, and enhancing the beauty of the wood grain.

This step also makes the wood ready for staining by opening up the pores, making them more accepting of the deck stain. 

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label when applying the deck brightener.

Step 5: Apply first stain coat and let it dry

After restoring the deck with a brightener, the wood is ready for staining. Be sure to choose a color similar to the existing stain so that your deck doesn’t look patchy. 

Once you’ve applied the first coat of stain, let it dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Step 6: Apply the second stain coat and let it dry

After the first coat of stain has dried, apply a second coat for good measure and extra protection against weathering and wear and tear. 

Again, let this second coat dry completely before returning the furniture or walking on your newly stained deck. 

How Do I Remove the Old Stain Before Re-Staining My Deck?

The method you use to remove old deck stains will depend on the type of stain applied. 

If its’ an oil-based stain, you’ll need to use a paint stripper to remove the old layer. Apply the stripper with a brush and let it sit for about 15 minutes before scrubbing it off with a stiff brush or putty knife. 

However, you can simply clean the surface with a power washer if it’s a water-based stain. 

Be sure to wear protective clothing and eyewear when doing either of these methods. Once the old stain is out, let the deck dry before applying a fresh coat.


Can I stain over the old stain on my deck? 

When to remove old stain before restaining a deck

Yes, you can stain over the old stain on your deck as long as the deck surface is in good condition. However, if there are any cracks or peeling, it’s best to remove the old stain before applying a new one.

Why should I use a deck stripper on my deck? 

You should use a deck stripper to remove an old coat of stain or sealer from your deck if you want to change the color or if the previous stain coat has started to peel.

Should I sand my deck before restaining? 

Yes, you will need to sand your deck before staining it. This will help to create a relatively textured surface for the new stain to adhere to. 

What prep work is necessary before I start staining my deck? 

The most crucial step is cleaning the deck and ensuring it’s free of dirt or debris. You will also want to remove the furniture and repair any damage, such as cracks or holes. 

Once your deck is clean, you can begin staining it.

More tips on how to properly re-stain your deck

  • Choose the right color of stain that will rhyme with the original color, so your deck won’t look funny after staining. The best option is to use the exact stain color and brand as the one already on the wood.
  • When sanding, avoid sanding too fine, as it may produce a lot of sawdust, which can prevent the new stain from adhering well.
  • After the last coat of stain dries, leave the deck for at least another 24 hours for the stain to cure completely before walking on it or putting on furniture.

Final Thoughts on Restaining Deck

A fresh coat of stain can transform your deck: breathing new life into weathered decking boards and protecting your deck from the elements. 

If your deck already has a coat of stain, you don’t have to remove the old deck stain before applying a new one. Follow this tutorial carefully and allow enough time for each coat to dry completely before applying the next.

Did you enjoy this tutorial? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Happy woodworking!

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