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
    Deborah · 05/04/2019
    So I stained last year with AC and dont need to restain, but I do need to clean the deck. Soap and water is all that is needed?
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    robert · 04/28/2019
    we stained our deck with transparent Armstrong stain about two years ago. Some of the deck is exposed to sunlight and weather the balance is not. I want to redo the deck in the same transparent stain. Do I need to strip and prep all of the deck or just the areas where is has weathered.? Please advise the procedure for prepping as well. Thank you
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    Kevin · 04/26/2019
    used ac transparent on redwood deck 3 years ago, looking pretty ragged, decided to go with semi transparent this time, I was just going to re-sand deck before applying, is that ok versus all of the clean and brighten products?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/26/2019
      Cleaning and brightening is the proper prep, not sanding. sanding can hinder the stain's ability to soak into the wood fully.
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    Kevin · 04/25/2019
    I stain my deck every two years with AC. I’m between years . What is the best way to just clean the horizontal boards in the year I do not stain? Dawn etc?
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    Colleen Miller · 04/22/2019
    Hi, I have used your transparent stains in the past on my cedar sauna, cedar smimming pool and on a red west pine deck. I wish to now go with the semi-transparent stain. Is it ok if I clean and brighten or do I need to strip?

    Thank you
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    Dawn Austen · 04/12/2019
    I have a large pressure treated sienna brown deck, pergola and fence. It was built two years ago. I have ordered samples to try and a rad kit. Should I sand or is the kit prep enough before staining?
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    Jason · 04/08/2019
    It says to wait 1-2 days before staining, how long is too long to wait?
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    Wayne Reibold · 04/04/2019
    New 600 sf second story Cedar deck installed on my home early last summer, 4 months later cleaned it with Restore-A-Deck which left a clumpy mess on underside of deck, siding on house below, the patio and damaged some of the glass on the windows below per professional window cleaner.

    Stained with one coat of Armstrong Clark semi-transparent stain 4 months after installed.

    The deck stain still looks really good (no mold/mildew/gray) but since it only has one coat of stain on it I want to put another coat on this summer.

    What can I use to clean the deck and avoid the clumpy mess on the underside of deck, siding below, patio below and damage to windows?

    I'm thinking after this summer I should be able to clean/stain it every other summer.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/04/2019
      Use the RAD cleaner again but mix at half (about 2-4 oz per gallon) strength. Apply and lightly pressure rinse. The "clumps" you had before was from the removal of the oxidation/graying of the wood. When doing maintenance coats, you do not have this issue.
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        Wayne Reibold · 04/04/2019
        Thanks. So I should use the cleaner and brightener 2 step process each at half strength.
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    Ray Hepworth · 03/31/2019
    Hello - I live in Toronto, Canada. Late last summer I used the Restore-A-Deck Kit to prep new cedar on our deck, railing, and pergola. I then applied a good coat of Semi-Trans Natural Oak to all surfaces. Over the winter I attempted to keep most surfaces clear of snow. Overall most surfaces look really good after the winter, however there are a number of spots on the floor where there is some peeling and/or discoloration. I remember reading last year that you should do a light coat at the start of Year 2. My question is what type of prep should I do before applying the year 2 coat? Please let me know before I finalize my order! Thanks for a great product, and the support you offer your community of users. Ray
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    r. m. falinski · 03/09/2019
    I am having a cypress garage door installed at my home in Northern Georgia that I would like stain with AC semi transparent exterior stain . I have seen a number of posts where it is adamantly stated that all wood must be allowed to weather before applying AC stains. Yet the Southern Cypress manufacturers association states "Cypress decking or siding should be finished promptly at the time of installation to protect against moisture absorption, discoloration from rain, and mildew." The manufacturer of the door also recommends finishing promptly. I am confused by this conflicting advice. What are the consequences of applying your product to wood that has not been weathered? Thank you
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    Jon chapman · 03/08/2019
    This picture is of ipe after cleaning and brightening and then rain. No stain. The customer would like this color. I tried a sample of mahogany but it makes it too brown. Is there a lighter red tone that will get it closer to the picture?
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    Kevin Porter · 10/12/2018
    I think I may already know the answer to this question, but I have a Cypress deck in Eastern Missouri, that was previously stained with some unmentionable product and I have pressure washed the "majority" of the old stain off, but there are blotches where the old stain did not come up. Do I absolutely have to remove 100% of the old stain for AC semi-solid stain to correctly cover exposed wood and some wood with old stain still present, but "roughed" up with intense pressure washing?
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      Armstrong · 10/12/2018
      Yes, you need to remove the old stain. shoot for 95% or more.
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    Melanie · 10/05/2018
    Can I mix some Mildewcide into the semi-transparent?
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      Armstrong · 10/05/2018
      No need. The AC already contains the maximum amount.
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    RON WADOWSKY · 10/03/2018
    I am in the process of refinishing my deck here in Northwestern PA, I have completely sanded down to bare wood all the decking and replaced about 10 or 12 boards with new pressure treated lumber. The new lumber has been exposed to the weather for about 3 1/2 to 4 months at this time and appears to be absorbing water now. I have purchased an Armstrong Clark Stain Kit which includes the cleaner and brightener. Originally I was going to apply the stain this fall but I am now leaning towards waiting until spring. I am considering this because since I need to clean and treat the deck before the stain I will need to clean and scrub again in the spring whether I stain or not. Will I do any harm or cause myself even more work by waiting to stain until the spring time?
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      Armstrong · 10/03/2018
      You will be fine if you wait until Spring. One Winter will not harm the wood.
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        RON WADOWSKY · 10/03/2018
        Thank you, that was what I thought but just wanted your opinion
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    Tom Shannon · 09/28/2018
    Should the deck be slightly damp before applying the cleaner solution with a sprayer? The instructions appear to indicate that, so I wanted to confirm before I start. FWIW-- I will be using a deck scrubbing brush and garden hose to rinse afterwards.
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      Armstrong · 09/29/2018
      It can be damp or dry when you start the prep.
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    K. Lynch · 09/26/2018
    Will the RAD cleaner or brightener damage black metal spindles on the deck rails? (I think they are powder coated black.)
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      Armstrong · 09/27/2018
      Hard to say as the spindles are not all made the same. Best to test first. Typically there are no issues.
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        K. Lynch · 09/28/2018
        I'm freaking out! After sanding the gray off my Ipe deck it looked beautiful...nice reddish brown coloring. Last night I used the RAD cleaner and brightener, and the gorgeous red colors seem to have been bleached right out! It's very light now with none of the warm tones. Will be using the mahogany stain on it but now I'm worried I won't get the warm red tones back. ?
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    K. Lynch · 09/25/2018
    Hi. I installed an Ipe deck last August. I was going to stain it in the Spring but things got in the way and it didn't happen, so it turned grey. I sanded it last week with 60grit. Was going to clean and brighten Thursday and stain Sunday. Forecast says possible rain Saturday morning though. Do I have to have 2 full days of no rain before I can stain (and another day after), or if it looks dry Sunday can I still stain Sunday?
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      Armstrong · 09/25/2018
      Yes, you will need to wait 48 hours after the rain to be safe.
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    Nina · 09/19/2018
    My deck has a few stops where it has cracks that can cause sprinters. How can I fill these in before staining? I am using your semi-transparent oil based stain. I'm not too worried if it looks different. I want it to be safe
    - Thanks, Nina
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/19/2018
      No. Wood filler will not work on exterior wood and the filler will not blend with the AC stain. It will look very bad.
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    Alison Hines · 09/08/2018
    To restain a deck with previously used stain do you need to clean and brighten or just clean before applying same stain as used before? Also, can pressure washing be skipped in the cleaning process? Does the cleaning product contain oxalic acid?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/09/2018
      Depends on how long it has been but typically you can just use the RAD deck cleaner with pressure washing. The cleaner does not contain oxalic acid.
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    Rich · 08/22/2018
    Just trying to get the sequence right. I am sanding sapele deck to bare wood and using semi-trans mahogany.
    Do I sand 1st then then wash and brightener or in reverse?
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    Petera1 · 08/20/2018
    Cedar fence preparation
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    Mellody Matthes · 08/14/2018
    Can you wait longer than 1-2 days after cleaning and brightening the deck to apply stain. If so how long can you wait?
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      Armstrong · 08/15/2018
      Stain within 2 weeks of the prep for best results.
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    Audrey · 08/12/2018
    Our deck, railings and fence were stained 2-3 years ago with a water based stain. The company has gone out of business. What kind of prep do you recommend we use prior to applying an Armstrong Clark stain? There is primarily wear on the posts from sun & rain (we live in the Seattle area) and more significant wear on the fence. Thanks for your help!
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    Alex Castro · 08/12/2018
    Can you recommend an additive I can mix into AC stain to protect against termites, carpenter ants, and similar pests?
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      Armstrong · 08/13/2018
      There is a product called "Bug Juice" that works.
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    Wendy Barthelemy · 08/03/2018
    My cedar deck was installed in 2015/July - stained with AC Rustic Brown in September. A single coat was applied by brush with the promise the co would return the following year to apply a 2nd coat and clean the deck. Well 2 of the railings blew off due to poor workmanship and were finally repaired mid summer.. by the time I could schedule all of this the stain co schedule was full (both companies work together). So in 2017 June, with a few complaints to the owner (having been paid upfront in 2015) they came to apply the 2nd coat. They apparently applied a brightener /stripper that must have removed the previous stain and provided poor adhesion to the 2nd coat. Additionally there was a lot of fuzz and debris on the underside of the deck that I am still trying to clean off since it is a 15ft elevation.. Now I'm left with stain that is wearing off in a blotchy pattern even in non high traffic areas. So I refuse to hire this out again.. the owner of the co didn't care.. so diy here I come. I chose your product for ease of maintenance and believe the product did not fail here. Please lmk what steps to take for proper removal and reapplication. It looks like a restore kit and power washing which I hate to do on newer wood.. then sanding etc..

    Approx square footage: 700ft2
    Thank you for your help!
    Wendy
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 08/03/2018
      For the prep, you will need this kit: https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/restore-a-deck-stripper

      This will restore down to the bare wood so the AC will properly perform.
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        Wendy · 08/03/2018
        I think you only answered the question to support the upper side of the floor decking.. what do you recommend for the underside of the deck boards? I plan to stain those but now have algae and the residue from the last prep. Obviously 15 ft up poses a challenge.

        Regarding the stain application, do you recommend 1 or 2 coats per season? And what is the best way to apply this roller or brush?
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 08/03/2018
          There is no reason or need to stain the undersides unless you want to for appearance only. If so, yhou will need to clean/brighten for the prep.
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            Wendy · 08/04/2018
            Yes it is for the appearance.. this area is currently an unfinished outdoor living area that serves the pool. So just to be sure, your cleaner and brightener will remove the algae..
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              Armstrong · 08/04/2018
              Yes, it should remove most if not all. The only issue would be if the algae is deeply embedded into the wood.
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            Armstrong · 08/03/2018
            2 coats wet on wet for initial application, redo with 1 coat as needed.
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    Jim Brown · 07/29/2018
    If I use AC semi-transparent, I understand that it will fade after a time and I will need to re-apply. Will the wood gray and need to be sanded again?
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    Ann · 07/23/2018
    My two decks are 14x22 and 34X13. They’ve been stained every two (maybe three years sometimes) years since being built. Used Thimpson’s In the beginning, Sealwize and Sherman-Williams the last two times. The Sherman-Williams was professionally applied but has not lasted as long as I hoped. The deck is weathered but otherwise in good shape. I plan to do the work myself this time. Should I use the restore a-deck stain stripper and them a brighter before staining or can I get away with just using one of those products? (I’m in my 70s and would like to avoid replacing the decks until I’m too old to do the work myself!) Will one application of the stain be sufficient? Can I spray it on? Does 6 gallons seem sufficient? (Sorry, I’m not smart enough to know how to attAch the picture I took!)
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/23/2018
      We will need a picture to see if you will need to strip and or sand to remove the previous coatings. As for amount needed, please use the calculator to the right of this page to determine the amount needed. You will need two coats once the current stain is removed fully down to the bare wood.
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    chiwara · 06/23/2018
    Forgot to mention, I have leftover Restore A deck stripper. Can I use this instead of Restore a deck cleaner?
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      Armstrong · 06/24/2018
      Yes, you can strip it off and then brighten before reapplying.
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        chiwara · 06/28/2018
        Thank you. Do I need to apply stripper and brighter on the same day?
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    chiwara · 06/23/2018
    Hello. I applied Armstrong Clark Stain (Driftwood) to the stairs 2 years ago. I just wanted to clean the stairs this year and used dawn (got an advice from Jake a few years ago for cleaning a deck) and noticed about 50% of the stain came off. It seems I need to stain it again. Do I need to use restore a deck cleaner before applying the stain or dawn is good enough? Please take a look at photos. I did not scrub very hard while I was cleaning since it was just a quick wash. I was not preparing for staining at the time.

    Thanks in advance!
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    Ron Jones · 06/19/2018
    I have stripped/ brightened and sanded my deck one week ago, however rain is forecast in the 40 to 60 % range. I have purchased the semi transparent natural oak. My question is what would be the worst case scenario If it rains within 24 hours after application?
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      Armstrong · 06/19/2018
      It can handle a rain 12-24 hours after application.