The most important step in any exterior wood restoration or maintenance project is to prep the surface properly prior to staining. Armstrong Clark Wood Stains are quality formulated wood coatings with five generations worth of experience that will give your deck lasting beauty and protection.

To ensure you get the expected results from any of the Armstrong Clark Oil Based Wood Stain products it is essential that the wood surface is cleaned and prepped prior to staining.

The exterior wood surface being refinished needs to be free of any dirt, grime, gray wood fibers, and any old deck stain or sealer. Even new wood needs to be cleaned to remove mill glaze and contaminants. For newer or grayed out wood we highly recommend using Restore-A-Deck Wood Cleaner. This two-step powder system is specially designed to clean and prepare wood for new stain.

 

Armstrong Clark Prepping Instructions

For wood surfaces that have any old deck stains or sealers on them, we recommend the Restore-A-Deck Stain Stripper. This product is designed to break down and soften transparent and semi-transparent wood stains so they can be washed away.

This process of cleaning or stripping the wood will ensure that the Armstrong Clark Wood Stain will penetrate the wood and perform properly. Use the simple to follow step-by-step instructions for either RAD product for properly prepping the wood surface.

Applying a new coat of Armstrong Clark Stain (maintenance coat) over an old coat is made easy. Prior to applying a maintenance coat of any Armstrong Clark Stain, it is still important to clean the wood surface. It is not necessary however to remove the old Armstrong Clark stain, simply clean the surface using the RAD Wood Cleaner and any old Armstrong Stain that remains will bond with the new stain coat.

Following either the RAD Cleaner or RAD Stain Stripper is step two of the system. The RAD step two is a Wood Brightener that will counteract the causticity of the cleaner or stripper and will correct the pH level of the wood making it more acidic. This opens the pores of the wood and allows it to accept as much new stain as possible.

Once the exterior wood surface is ready following the prepping instructions allow 1-2 days for the wood surface to dry. With proper prepping you can expect the most from your new Armstrong Clark Oil Based Wood Stain. It will enhance the wood’s beauty and give you extended use for many years to come.

Ask Below for Questions on Prepping for Armstrong Clark Stains

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  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Marilyn · 09/09/2021
    I noticed some threads of the wood surface started peeling back when we were using a stripper on the deck. Should we sand in that case? We already stripped and brightened.
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    Dee · 07/30/2021
    My outdoor deck is redwood, installed over 35 years ago.  My question: Can I use Armstrong Clark Stain on this deck if I sand off the paint on it (the paint is old too!)? I would like to obtain the natural look/finish again!
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      Armstrong · 07/30/2021
      As long as you remove all of the paint, then yes.
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    Jonathan Libber · 07/05/2021
    I am about to re-stain my deck.  The previous two coats were Armstrong  Sierra Redwood semi-transparent stain.  This third coat is the same stain.  I plan to first use Wood Cleaner followed by deck brightener.  How long do I have to wait in between rinsing off the cleaner and then applying the brightener?  Can the deck still be wet from the cleaning when I apply the brightener, or does it have to be 100% dry?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/05/2021
      Brighten as soon as you are done cleaning while the wood is wet. 
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    Denise Zitzmann · 06/13/2021
    My deck was stripped, and brightened and is now drying.  In several days we will use the semi solid stain. How do you determine whether your deck needs to be sanded, and what grit sand paper should be used?
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      Armstrong · 06/14/2021
      Do not sand. Just stain.
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        Denise zitzmann · 06/14/2021
        There are spots where there is still stain snd the grain seems roughed up.  Sending photos.  Will be using semi solid stain. 
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          Denise zitzmann · 06/14/2021
          Stain still remains is spots and where a storage box was kept on deck.  
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          Armstrong · 06/14/2021
          That is old stain that did not come off with the stripping. You should give it one more go with the stripper and then the brightener. Shoot for 95% removal or more. A little bit of old stain is okay as it will blend.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Wayne · 06/12/2021
    I am about to clean and brighten my yellow cedar deck that was installed In August 2020. If it rains on the deck between prepping and staining, will that be a problem? Or, will it be okay if Allow two days of drying after the rain and before staining? Would it be better to wait for three or four consecutive dry days for prepping then staining? Thanks. 
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/12/2021
      Rain does not harm the prep. Wait 48 hours after rain to let the wood dry before staining.
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    Noni · 05/31/2021
    There seems to be conflicting information for new deck prep. Your website and your answers to questions states one should use the "Restore-A-Deck Wood Cleaner," however, your brochure "General Instructions- Surface Preparation" section states to "wash with a mild scrubbing using a mixture of 1 qt. bleach, 3 qts, water, with a maximum of a 1/4 cup of liquid dish soap per gallon. Rinse thoroughly and/or light pressure wash." Which is the preferred method. I have a redwood deck that was installed July 2020. Thank you
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/31/2021
      Best way is to prep with the RAD Cleaner and then the Brightener kit.
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    gertrud · 05/30/2021
    We have a 1 1/2 year old pressure treated deck and would like to stain it now with Armstrong Clark semi  transparent wood stain. Do we have to clean AND brighten before staining? Thank you.
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    Nikki · 05/14/2021
    Can I use dish soap and water to remove excess stain. If so how long after application 
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      Armstrong · 05/15/2021
      No, that will not remove excess stain. 
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    Steve · 05/05/2021
    We are working with an older cedar deck. Last year we stripped, cleaned, brightened (with “Restore”) and then stained with your “Natural Tone” stain.  
    We want to do a maintenance coat this year. There is one area on the deck that after being stained was under an outdoor carpet. This area has developed black spots (refer to the picture). The rest of the deck doesn’t have the spots.
    1) How should we proceed? 2) Should we not have a carpet on the deck?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/05/2021
      Looks like the rug being wet caused mildew under the carpet and on top of the stain. We would suggest not using it but if you do, try removing the rug after a rain and let it dry out before putting it back. This should help reduce this from happening. This year, clean and brighten for prep and then one coat of stain.
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    Kp · 05/03/2021
    I cleaned/brightened my ipe (I think) deck and I have some areas with tannin bleed, do I need to rerinse and/or brighten and let dry again before staininf or will the stain spread out the tannins to make them not noticeable? I am staining with Armstrong-Clark Amber.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/03/2021
      Try the brightener again but it looks more like water stains than tannin stains. They will still show when stained.
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    G. Anderson · 04/19/2021
    I stripped, brightened & applied one coat of A/C hardwood amber oil stain to my mahogany last June. the finish now "looks" like there isn't any, and appears "dirty." In June I plan to apply another coat. Prior to re-staining, should I use your deck cleaner AND re-brighten, or just the cleaner & power wash?
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    A. Chuang · 04/19/2021
    I have a seven year old mahogany deck that needs refinishing, and the company I hired is willing to use your products but is not familiar with them. They propose to power wash the deck and sand to remove all the old stain (don’t know what the builder used, but it appears a solid red in the patches that haven’t weathered). Can they then move directly to applying your hardwood oil stain, or do they need to apply a prep product first? And their estimate includes applying two coats—is that appropriate, or should only one coat be used on mahogany? Thank you!
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    Ron Platt · 03/29/2021
    I have a 4 year old ipe deck that I stained (twice) with Seal Once/C2 water-based stain. It failed miserably twice. Do I have to remove/strip the Seal Once prior to prepping and staining with Armstrong Clark stain for ipe decks?
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    John Matthews · 03/12/2021
    My 4 year old pressure treated deck has received Natural Tone twice. Last year, following the container instructions we cleaned with a bleach solution then applied the second coat. this year we want to apply Natural Oak. What prep steps must we do
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Julie · 11/25/2020
    I stripped, brightened, and applied one coat of cedar semi transparent AC stain this fall to my deck. The color is reading too orange for my liking. Can I try applying a darker color over the existing coat next spring, or should I strip, brighten and start over with a new color. Thanks!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 11/25/2020
      You would need to strip and brighten for prep.
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    nancy · 11/01/2020
    I used the restore a deck system to clean and brighten deck. Looked great, by the way. Then, our deck stayed too wet to stain and now it's been raining off and on. Has been a week since cleaning. Looks like we may have 7 days of 65-70 deg weather. If I make sure there isn't obvious dirt on deck, can I still stain in a week? Also, if I have till Spring, do I have to use the brightener again or just cleaner?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 11/01/2020
      Yes, you can stain this week. If you wait until Spring, you would have to clean and brighten for prep.
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    Teresa · 09/20/2020
    Hello,

    I have a tiger wood deck that is about 10 years old that has not had any maintenance for last 5 years or more. There was a lot of mildew so just finished power washing (tried scrubbing first). Pictures in shade and some sun attached. I am not sure if I should use your strip and brightener or cleaner and brightener now before staining. After this next step will I need to sand it before staining with mahogany. Thanks for your help.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/20/2020
      Try the cleaner and the brightener. Sand only if needed.
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    David Russell · 09/15/2020
    I just replaced my old cedar deck with new 5/4 Cedar Board decking . Do I wait a year to stain it ?
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    Julia · 09/12/2020
    I am planning to stain our balcony. Do you recommend staining the underside as well?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/12/2020
      No need.
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        Julia · 09/13/2020
        The underside does get mold/mildew. How do we minimize that?
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 09/13/2020
          Staining the underside would not prevent mildew. Just clean it periodically.
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    Bob Angus · 08/29/2020
    Hello, I plan on using your transparent cedar stain on my IPE deck. I would like to stain the center plank in my stairways a darker color for safety purposes. See photo. Can you recommend a method of doing this? Thank you!
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Tom Goemaat · 08/29/2020
    I stained my front porch with your mahogany stain last year, very happy. Am I correct that it is recommended to do maintenance coat each year, using the RAD cleaner as the prep? Thanks
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    SJ · 08/09/2020
    We assumed we could use this to also
    touch up our matching fence, which is coated in Cabot semi stain- there’s no way to completely strip and power wash this off the fence. what do you recommend? We now own $210 of your stain so we’re kind of stuck here.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 08/09/2020
      You cannot apply the AC Over the Cabot so you will have to remove by sanding or stripping.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        SJ · 08/09/2020
        So we purchased this because it was oil based and our old kind was oil based, thinking we were doing the right thing for the fence. Do you take returns?
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 08/09/2020
          It actually does not matter if the same base. No matter what you have to remove if switching as no stain can be applied over a different brand and then expect that the new stain will be able to soak in and or adhere.

          https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/refund
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    SJ · 08/09/2020
    My deck has just a bit of cabot semi transparent stain on it. Most has been sanded off. Do we have to go thru the process of stripping also?
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    Rebekah · 07/30/2020
    Hi! I cleaned a bit of my very dirty (but no stain/sealant) deck with an OxiClean solution, but it just wasn't cutting it, so I'm planning to clean the rest with Behr's All-in-One Wood and Deck Cleaner. After the deck is fully dry, can I apply the Armstrong Clark stain, or do I need to apply something before? (I'm planning to use the Hardwood "Black Walnut" stain on my softwood deck.) Thanks!
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    mike · 07/17/2020
    have 25 year pressure treated deck with numerous behr solid stain with good luck until last application, deck had many blisters and peeling like rubber strip, tried stain removers and pressure washer but didn't work, eventually and after 3 weeks removed 95% old stain with angle grinder using diamatra wood tools, have small amount on round part of spindles, again stripper and sanding won't remove, can i try armstrong clark semi solid on floor and railings? totally disgusted with behr and working on reimbursement, but still would love to go with oil based? thanks
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/17/2020
      You would have to remove all to use the AC stains. They cannot be applied over a solid stain.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        mike · 07/17/2020
        what would work, my spindles are rectangle then round back to rectangle, its the round part that is so hard to remove, spindles are about 4 inches apart making it difficult? thanks
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 07/17/2020
          None of the AC stains will work. You will either have to get it all off or use a solid stain.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Pam · 07/06/2020
    Hi
    I have a cedar barrel sauna that was originally coated with a competitor's product which did not last a year! The sauna is in western Québec. I have now power washed and sanded the sauna to get as much of the old product off as I can. I estimate that there is less than 5% of the product remaining in small areas such as joint between front panel and the door. These areas have been impervious despite multiple washes. As a barrel, this is a surface that is both horizontal and vertical. Can I go ahead with the cleaner and brightener as is?

    Photos are pre-wash and post-wash.

    Thanks!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/06/2020
      You can go ahead with the prep and stain now.
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    Kirk · 07/03/2020
    We have a mahogany deck in good shape. Every year I wash and stain the deck. Decided to give Armstrong a try. Washed and scrubbed deck with a deck cleaner. Let it dry and then applied stain. Screwed up by not seeing instruction to strip old stain. Wiped excess stain off 24 hours later. Taking long time to dry because I didn’t strip I assume. Am I okay until next summer?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/04/2020
      As long as it dries you will be fine.
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    Janis Pace · 06/24/2020
    I have a professional company that seems to be willing to use Armstrong Clark stain for me, (they usually use Sherwin Williams Super Deck) but they are hesitant to use the RAD prep products. They would want to do a powerwash with the SW cleaner and sealer followed by the Revive. Would that work with the AC stain. Deck is 7 yrs old PT wood and only had one coat of transparent AC clear on it a year after built. I really like the driftwood color and the sample on it looks good!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/25/2020
      As long as it cleans up correctly, it should be okay.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    DFC · 06/21/2020
    I have a large mahogany deck in good condition that I have stripped and brightened as instructed but it will be at least weeks before I can stain. Is that an issue and do I need to do
    additional prep before staining?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/21/2020
      Yes, lightly pressure wash again with the brightener.
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    amanda · 06/20/2020
    I power washed and stripped my Ipe table and chairs last fall. Do I need to do any more prep now before I apply the Black Walnut stain? I have a big compressor, so I was going to use that to remove any dust or dirt on the wood. Also we have storms pop up from time to time. Will it be a problem if I stain and it rains within a day or two of application? Thanks
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/20/2020
      Clean and brighten for the prep. The stain can take rain about 8 hours after applying.