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
How much time does the applied stain need before it rains for the 1st time?
4-8 hours. Dry time varies based on exposure to sun and temps.
Thanks very much! temps have been upper 70’s and I see a good amount of sun for a good 6-8 hours a day. I have one coat on all of it now. The rail top and deck seem a bit lighter than the verts which I kinda expected as I was able to get more of the old off horizontally. Would a 2nd coat provide some darkness/depth? I would apply it tomorrow if so. Thanks for being here for us. My wife is LOVING the Natural Oak I picked. I did something right!
More is not always better. Leave as is and if desired, clean and recoat the floors next year.
Will do. You folks are as good as your product. A couple after pics to show your product in place. Thanks again, Shep
Looks great! You can enter our contest here: https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/armstrong-clark-2023-contest-win-cash
I’m going to be applying this on a tiger wood fence. What is the proper way to apply after prep?Spray and back brush. Roll and back brush or just brush. Thank you
This is the wrong AC stain color for hardwoods like yours. You need one of the Hardwood colors: https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/hardwood-and-ipe-stain
Use a stain pad to apply: https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/padco-deck-and-wood-stain-pads-brushes-pads-sprayers
I have an older pressure treated wood deck that I have completely sanded down to bare wood, removing all of the old semi solid stain (brand unknown), The wood is clean and generally solid. Do you recommend any additional prep prior to application of AC semi solid stain?
Yes, prep with this after sanding to open up the wood grain:
I used 180 grit on old handrails. Do I have to sand it with 60-80 grit paper now? The wood is 30 years old.
Yes. Clean and brighten after.
Hello, I am going to re-stain a mahogany front porch. Should I use the cleaner and brightener, or the stripper than cleaner and brightener? Thanks
Same stain brand and color?
it was originally stained using Cabot semi transparent. Much of the wood exposed to sunlight is gray. Stained approximately 10 years ago. Thanks.
If not stain is left then clean and brighten for prep.
there is some stain in certain areas. Should we use a stripper ? Over the whole porch? Then follow up with cleaner and brightener before using the Amber stain color
Strip all then. No need for cleaner. Brightener last.
I power washed a silvered ipe deck and sanded it with 80 grit orbital sander. Do I just need to use the brightener then stain with the mahogany stain?
Yes, that will work.
Thanks, my square footage is 112. 1 gallon of stain should be enough, correct
How many square feet does one RAD kit cover?
See here for the product page: https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/restore-a-deck-kit
600-1000 sq feet per kit.
We have been using Armstrong Clark stain from the time our pressure treated deck was built and have only used semi-transparent Rustic Brown. It’s been 3 years since we last stained the deck. Do we need to use the cleaner and brightener or stripper/brightener before staining with same color again?
Cleaner and brightener while pressure washing.
Pressure washing is OK? At what PSI and how close should you be from the wood?
Yes, pressure wash. Around 1500-2000 PSI and 6-12 inches away from the wood.
Our redwood deck is about 20 years old, last stained with Superdeck. I have stripped and brightened one small part. The power washing after stripping and the washing after brightening seemed to bring out so much yellow liquid that I wonder if I am removing tannins/oils that should not have come out. The wood now has a furry look which I can probably sand off but should I have used a lot less prep chemicals?
Also, should I have used a brush vs. sprayer on the balusters to save product?
Finally, how important is it to avoid sunlight? We waited this time until dusk but ran out of time to finish the job before it got dark.
You are stripping it correctly and you are not removing the tannins. Spray on the stripper and pressure wash off. Sunlight does not matter when stripping, just keep it wet while working.
I am going to be staining new column wraps on my carport. They are treated pine. I am a little unsure about the instructions. Do I need to wait 6 months after installation to stain? (I got this thinking from reading the can… where it says -“New Wood Weathering” and the chart -“Time Listed Is From Date of Installation”
See here: https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/new-decking-and-armstrong-clark-stain
My wife striped the rear Ipe deck an power washed then stained with Armstrong Mahogany solid. She is planning to wash and power scrub before she re-applies the same Armstrong Mahogany solid stain. I think she is going to remove a good prior coat with her plan. I understood that a gentile (non-power) soap/cleaner scrub is all that’s required then 2day drying before the new coat of Ipe Armstrong Ipe Mahogany solid stain. I need your thoughts before we argue over this, PLEASE!
When was the first coat applied?
Last year in Fall
Then you need to do the full prep. https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/restore-a-deck-kit
Hi, I am in the course of stripping the paints off my deck and will replace some of the boards. However I am unable to tell what kind of woods and hence what stain I should use. I will prep the deck first by RAD cleaning kit before applying the stain. Would semi-transparent stain be suitable? Kindly advise. Thanks in advance!
Yes any of the Armstong Clark colors or transparencies will work.
I have a 30+ year old pressure treated deck. I used a Cabot product called Deck Correct a couple of years ago, which is now peeling off all over the place. I live in Vermont – harsh winters and lots of moisture. My contractor says he can just pressure wash the horizontal surfaces to remove the Deck Correct (it’s really like a paint) and then use (your) stain. The wood is old but still in good shape other than dried out! My question is – Is pressure washing sufficient or must the restore-a-deck product be used also? Thank you.
You cannot strip off the Deck Correct and you cannot pressure wash it all off. It has to be power sanded to remove.
So just power sanding and then use the stain? Is an orbital sander okay or does it need a band sander? I purchased 5 gallons of cedar semi transparent.
You will need heavy-duty sanding equipment to remove the Deck Correct. It is not easy to sand that product off.
Also can it be applied with a roller? THanks!
I have new hemlock siding where I used a water based stain that looked more like paint than stain. Possibly I should have sanded it first? I have removed that stain over much of it (arduous task!) by sanding and a sample patch of oak semi transparent shows the wood grain. I am considering the stripper on any remaining unsanded portions…because of noise considerations for my neighbor? Do I need the brightener on all?
Yes, you have to brighten but if it looks like paint, then it cannot be stripped.
Is it necessary to sand old deck tp remove previous Cabot stain or does the Restore-A- Deck to the trick?
That would depend on the type of Cabot stain it was? Some can be stripped and some can not. It does have to come off fully.
Australian Timber Oil was what I used.
The oil-based version? If so, use this kit for prep: https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/restore-a-deck-stripper
Yes, thank you.
So would the best way be install with a garden sprayer and then pressure wash?
How much pressure should I use in the pressure washer when removing the preexisting stain – using your Restore-A-Deck products – on my cedar deck?
About 1200-2000 psi.
I have previously used Cabot Cedar Wood Toner on my two cedar porches. But I want to switch to Armstrong, just because it can be applied in sunlight. I plan on using the RAD cleaning system. Will this 2-product cleaning system remove all the old Cabot product to allow the Armstrong stain to penetrate and adhere to the cedar wood? How long will the Armstrong stain last? I plan on selling my house next year. Will it need to be touched up before putting my house on the market? The porches are 20 years old. Cabot Wood Toner had been reapplied about every 2 years.
You will need the RAD Stripper/Brightener Kit for prep, not the Cleaner. AC typically lasts 2-3 years, maybe longer.
I think the spots on my exterior glass door are overspray from the Restore a Deck product used last summer. Windex and rubbing alcohol are not getting it off, I have not tried with mineral spirits or razor blade yet. Is there a preferred method for removing these spots, if that is what it is? Thanks
The prep products do not harm glass so not sure what it is.
Have 4 yr old redwood deck previously stained/sealed with Behr Redwood Semi Transparent Stain/sealer (from Home Depot) – planning on sanding (to remove what is left of old stain and blemishes) and need info on what to do after sanding. Do I use the RAD and pressure wash? How long to let it dry out after washing? I plan to use the Semi Solid Redwood Sequoia product. Also what is the best way to apply this?
Yes, use the RAD Prep kit after the sanding. Let dry for 48 hours and then stain. Use stain pads and brushes for best results.
When you say prep kit is that the stripper and cleaner and brightener or which combo? Do I need to use the stripper since I have sanded the deck? Based on above info sounds like sand, cleaner and brightener.
Clean and brighten since you already removed the Behr.
Have 4 yr old redwood deck that was previously stained with the Home Depot Behr Semi Transparent Stain about 3 years ago. Planning on sanding (to help remove stain and blemishes) and then need advice on what to do before applying your Semi Solid redwood Sequoia product – using RAD/pressure wash and how long to dry. Also what is best way to apply this stain. Thx, Brad
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.
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!
As long as you remove all of the paint, then yes.
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?
Brighten as soon as you are done cleaning while the wood is wet.
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?
Do not sand. Just stain.
There are spots where there is still stain snd the grain seems roughed up. Sending photos. Will be using semi solid stain.
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.
Stain still remains is spots and where a storage box was kept on deck.
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.
Rain does not harm the prep. Wait 48 hours after rain to let the wood dry before staining.
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
Best way is to prep with the RAD Cleaner and then the Brightener kit.
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.
Yes, you have to prep.
Can I use dish soap and water to remove excess stain. If so how long after application
No, that will not remove excess stain.
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?
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.
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.
Try the brightener again but it looks more like water stains than tannin stains. They will still show when stained.
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?
Use both cleaner and brightener.
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!
Just one coat for hardwoods. Use this kit after the sanding for final prep: https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/restore-a-deck-kit
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?
Post some pictures for prep help.
This is my four year old ice deck that has been restored twice with Seal Once/C2 and failed in one season, twice.
Use the RAD Stripper with both additives and then brightener. https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/restore-a-deck-stripper
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
Use this kit: https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/restore-a-deck-stripper
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!
You would need to strip and brighten for prep.
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?
Yes, you can stain this week. If you wait until Spring, you would have to clean and brighten for prep.
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.
Try the cleaner and the brightener. Sand only if needed.
I just replaced my old cedar deck with new 5/4 Cedar Board decking . Do I wait a year to stain it ?
See this for tips: https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/new-decking-and-armstrong-clark-stain
I am planning to stain our balcony. Do you recommend staining the underside as well?
The underside does get mold/mildew. How do we minimize that?
Staining the underside would not prevent mildew. Just clean it periodically.
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!
For IPE, you need one of the three hardwood colors: https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/wood-and-decking-stains/hardwood-and-ipe-stain
Make sure to prep well first. Use the Black Walnut for the darker board.
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 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.
You cannot apply the AC Over the Cabot so you will have to remove by sanding or stripping.
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?
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.
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?
Yes, all has to come off.
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!
Do not use the Behr for prep. Does not work well and actually damages the wood fibers. This while pressure washing is the correct prep: https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/restore-a-deck-kit
Is this product only available online? I really don’t want to wait that long to start the process.
We sell online only.
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
You would have to remove all to use the AC stains. They cannot be applied over a solid stain.
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
None of the AC stains will work. You will either have to get it all off or use a solid stain.
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.
You can go ahead with the prep and stain now.
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?
As long as it dries you will be fine.
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!
As long as it cleans up correctly, it should be okay.
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?
Yes, lightly pressure wash again with the brightener.
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
Clean and brighten for the prep. The stain can take rain about 8 hours after applying.