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
    Roxane R. · 10/09/2019
    Hi,
    I had someone prep my deck with RAD stripper and brightener. They did not get all the old product off. I have been scraping off what was left. I have also had to sand some spots where their power washer chewed up the wood. Do I need to use the RAD cleaner again or can I just go ahead and apply my semisolid stain?
    Also, it is getting cooler and sometimes it is damp. Should I apply the stain now or wait until spring? If I have to wait, do I then need to use the RAD again?
    Also wondering if all the directions are followed, does Armstrong Clark stain have a warranty or guarantee?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 10/10/2019
      It would be best to lightly clean and brighten the wood after the sanding and scrapping. Only one coat of the AC stain. You can do prep/stain now or in Spring. Warranty is on the can.
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    Pat B · 09/05/2019
    Should we wash the deck first or sand first. There is some rough splintery spots. Thanks for your response to my previous question.
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    Pat B. · 09/04/2019
    Sadly we let our pretreated wood deck go too long before applying stain sealer. It dried out and the lumber has cracks. We ordered Armstrong Clark oil based semi-transparent stain/sealer for the deck. How should we prep this prior to applying the stain? Should we fill the cracks? Or not?
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    Bill · 09/04/2019
    Will RAD harm my powder coated metal ballusters?
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      Armstrong · 09/05/2019
      It shouldn't but best ot do a test spot first.
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    Oliver · 09/01/2019
    Accidentally posted a photo from before the replacement spindles were in, so here are a couple more. There are probably 10 new spindles total. Thank you
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/02/2019
      Do it in the Spring. It will be fine. Clean and brighten while pressure washing for the prep. You should be fine to pressure wash all wood and the spindles. Wait 48 hours and then stain.
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        Oliver · 09/03/2019
        Thank you very much. I appreciate the help.
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    Oliver · 09/01/2019
    We recently moved into this house in Michigan that has a large (I believe around 1200 sq ft) deck that wraps around 2.5 sides of the house. This large section is south-facing with hot sun in summers, and we get lots of snow in winters. We know that the deck needs to be cleaned and re-stained. My question is, we only got these replacement boards, spindles, and railings on here today. And being September 1 our window of time to wash and stain with cooperating weather before winter comes is closing. I know the new wood should weather for a few months still, but I hate to let the whole deck have snow sit on it again all winter.

    What do you recommend we do, and when?

    Here is how I understand the rest of the process:

    -Use RAD cleaner with scrub brush and pressure washer

    -Use RAD brightener

    -Wait how long before staining?

    -Stain with a semi-transparent

    Will the process above help prep the new wood to take stain yet this fall? Or should we risk another winter and wash and stain everything in spring? Not sure how long it's been since deck last had stain, and I don't want to lose more boards than I need to to the snow.

    Also, can we pressure wash the railing spindles also, to prep for staining? The guy who did our repairs today cautioned that the older spindles might not take pressure washing well, and was suggesting that we replace all of the spindles, not just the ones he'd already done which had come loose or were badly split or soft. Replacing all the spindles isn't in the budget for this year and I already know not to get too close with the pressure washer. Just would appreciate a second opinion on that part.

    I know this is a lot of questions. I feel like I've read everything already and yet am just trying to work out the particulars of our situation. Thanks in advance.
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    Bill · 08/28/2019
    I used Behr semi transparent water based stain a year ago. All of the horizontal surfaces are peeling. It appears that there was no penetration at all. I tried Behr stripper and it didn't work, evev after 2 applications. I'm now in the process of sanding to remove it all. I have quite a bit of Behr all purpose cleaner left. Can I use this instead of RAD? I plan on using Armstrong Sierra redwood stain.
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      Armstrong · 08/28/2019
      No, best to use the RAD products for the proper prep.
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    Joel · 08/27/2019
    I have a hardwood fence rail that needs re-staining after 2 years. Previously used Flood hardwood stain. Do I need to use stripper or cleaner first or will a light sanding work as well before using an AC hardwood stain?
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    L.Y. · 08/18/2019
    I have this deck about 5 years old and hasn’t been stained except clear stain from Sherwin Williams. I started stripping then saw some small areas where clear stain was holding water in certain spots. Here’s about 1/2 of the deck floor after I pressure washed, used pump sprayer 2-3 times, then rinsed. Does it look right? I can’t always tell when there’s leftover stain and need to use wire brush.
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      Armstrong · 08/18/2019
      Keep going with the stripping while pressure washing and then make sure to brighten the wood. Do not use a wire brush on the wood.
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    Anna · 08/16/2019
    We want to refinish decks stained with Armstrong transparent stain two years ago. I have scrubbed every surface with a brush and water. Areas that have been protected by roofing are still stained. The steps and areas where sun hits are down to bare wood. Do I really need to use your cleaner and brightener?
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      Armstrong · 08/17/2019
      Yes, so you get an even application when you recoat.
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        Anna · 08/17/2019
        Thanks for the reply. The original finish was Armstrong transparent. Can we use semi-transparent this time without stripping?
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          Armstrong · 08/18/2019
          You should still strip to ensure an even application. Stripping is as easy as cleaning. Just apply and pressure wash. Brightener after.
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    Susan Halm · 08/15/2019
    I have a new cedar fence. Do I have to wait 3 months to stain it with semi transparent and what kind of prep is required?
    Thanks
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    Nettie · 08/14/2019
    Last year we apply PPG Lux stain on brand new IPE decking, that had cured for about 3 months in garage. Immediately after installing the IPE decking in the summer, the boards turned grey, some pealing, and the deck does not look good. Should we sand first and get the stain off and then clean or brighten? What sand paper grit would you use to take the previous PPG Lux stain off? thank you,
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      Armstrong · 08/14/2019
      Post a picture of the current condition.
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        Nettie Cohodas · 08/19/2019
        So, a new stain/paint contractor just sanded the deck. Quite a few ipe boards are cupping water after using the brightener. Even though its just a year old, the center of quite a few boards is dipping about 1/10" He sanded with 150 grit. Now, my original deck installer says that I should have used a lower grit, like 80 or less. What is your opinion on the cupping, and the the proper grit to use with Armstrong Clark Amber? thanks
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          Armstrong · 08/20/2019
          Sanding at 150 is way too fine and the AC will not soak in correctly. 60-80 is the correct amount and you should clean and brighten after. Not sure why it is cupping but it has nothng to do with the brightener or water.
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    Craig · 08/05/2019
    I am building and arbor from machined, kiln dried Douglas Fir. Will this work for that application?
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    David · 07/29/2019
    I want to lightly sand my deck with 80 grit before I stain it. Should I sand it before or after the application of the RAD cleaner and brightener?
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    John · 07/27/2019
    An addition to my question below. The windows have Plexiglas inserts, are they safe with exposure to the cleaner and brightener? Thanks.
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      Armstrong · 07/27/2019
      The Plexiglas may have a reaction with the cleaner/brightener. Best to remove to be safe.
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    John · 07/27/2019
    Hello, I'm about to clean, brighten and stain a cedar playhouse I built for my grand-daughters last summer. The house has 6 wide frame painted windows. Are the Cleaner and Brightener safe on painted surfaces or do I need to take steps to ensure these products do not contact the painted windows? Thanks
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/27/2019
      It should not harm the painted parts.
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    Mark D · 07/22/2019
    hello, going to re-stain an IPE deck that I previously stained(shows traffic wear) with Armstrong Clark.Do I need to pressure wash or just clean with RAD cleaner-there is some heavy dirt/mold/mildew from boat dock roof.Was going to PW and then RAD CLEANER with scrub brush.Will RAD CLEANER remove old stain or just open pores?any help is appreciated
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/22/2019
      Use the RAD Cleaner and pressure washing for the prep. It will remove the dirt and some stain but that is okay for reapplication.
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    melissa · 07/17/2019
    Pressure washed a very large, 20 year old deck (pine) and removed 99% of previous stain (no idea what was used). Is it still necessary to clean and brighten prior to staining?
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    Nan Larson · 07/12/2019
    Hi We are doing our cedar deck which has been stained multiple times with Behr Solid Barn Red. A number of boards have been replaced with new deck cedar. We are unable to remove the old stain from remaining boards with stripper. Do you recommend disc sanding or cob sanding, or soda sanding to remove the old stain? Also how long do we need to weather the deck once the stain has been removed? I am interested in a semi solid stain once we are ready.

    Thank you. Nan
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/12/2019
      Power sanding to remove. Let weather for 1-2 months after and then clean and brighten the wood for prep.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Nan · 07/13/2019
        Thank you for your reply. And some of your prep instructions you tell us that we have to leave the deck weather for 12 months before using semi-solid product. Please confirm that information. Thank you
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 07/13/2019
          The new wood does have to season 12 months before using a semi-solid color. 3-4 months if using a transparent or semi-transparent color.
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    Anthony · 07/08/2019
    Hello,

    I was just looking for some advice... I am new to the home owning group having just recently purchased a home and we were looking to fix the deck on the home we had purchased after noticing it peeling off. The deck is pressure treated lumber, and is about 11 years old now. The previous coating was an Olympic maximum solid stain (red) and under that there was another unknown gray stain (maybe?). I have been able to remove nearly all traces of the previous two stains with the superdeck stripper, pressure washing and sanding. My question is, do I need to get every last trace of stain off before applying this, as in stain attached to nails or stuck in between cracks? It is not possible for me to get in between some cracks as the boards are spaced too tightly in some areas (which I am going to try and widen with a circular saw) and trying to use the random orbit sander in some areas is chewing up the sanding pads. After doing this do I need to brighten and then clean and then sand again before applying the semi-transparent stain. Lastly I had a question about placing where it is splintering, is there a good way to remove those, as they are also chewing up the sanding pads. I still need to try and remove some gunk that has deposited between the boards but I was going to try a leaf blower and then just wait for good weather.

    Thank you for your time, I appreciate it.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/08/2019
      -Yes, you have to remove all if going with a semi-transparent.
      -Clean and brighten the wood for your last prep.
      -Sand the splinters off.
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    Leahann · 07/05/2019
    I am using new dried kiln cedar deck boards in the Lowes HOFT slip fence. What prep do I need to do before staining with the TWP 200. Do I still need to use a cleaner and brightener before staining? I live on the beach in B.C. Canada
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/06/2019
      Yes, you have to weather and prep the new kiln-dried wood before using the Armstrong Clark. 1-2 months and then clean and brighten the wood.
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    Bob · 07/03/2019
    Best product for pressure treated southern pine deck, last sealed 5 years ago with Sherwin Williams.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/03/2019
      The SW does need to be removed first. Once done, use any color in the AC that you like.
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    Janice Roudebush · 07/01/2019
    15-year old IPE deck, in good condition, last sanded and sealed 2 years ago with a different product (Sherwin Williams SuperDeck). (Some darker areas adjacent to trees at one end, either from shade or greater moisture, not sure.) I plan to use the Armstrong Clark products this time around. Sanding/RAD Brightening/one coat of Mahogany stain. OK? Also, how long does the Brightening wash need to dry before applying the stain?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/02/2019
      Strip and brighten to remove the SuperDeck. No need to sand. Wait for 48 hours to apply the stain. Just one coat.
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        Janice Roudebush · 07/02/2019
        Is there any reason not to sand instead of strip? My contractor seems to want to prefer to sand.
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 07/02/2019
          Stripping is easier and sanding closes the wood pores so the stain cannot soak in as deeply.
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    Joe B · 06/28/2019
    Looking for guidance on new R/S cedar fence. My cedar wood is at 0 to 7% moisture per my meter from the lumber yard, but with water test the smooth side will not take the water, mill glazing condition as stain industry calls it. The question is if I put up fence and wait 1 or 2 or 3 months to weather to point of accepting stain, won't I have to use the 2 step cleaner before staining? if that answer is yes then if the 2 step cleaner removes mill glaze as I believe I read, then can I just put the fence up, use the two step to remove glazing, and then dry and stain? Is it really necessary to wait months?
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    Stephanie · 06/23/2019
    Hello, trying to strip paint and stain off a deck in northern Indiana so we can stain with AC semi-solid stain. We’re not having much luck using citrustrip to get all the layers off. Do we need to sand or use something harsher? We have ordered the cleaner/brightener pack, but I’m not sure we should use that after stripping? I don’t want to start mixing chemicals or damage the wood. Please advise! Thank you!
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      Armstrong · 06/24/2019
      Post a picture of what you are trying to remove.
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    Linda · 06/21/2019
    I purchased a home with a 15 year old mahogany deck that has never been stained or treated. Wood planks are quite dry, of course, and last winter due to heavy snows it developed mildew in some areas. Do I need to use both RAD and cleaner products prior to applying semi-transparent stain?
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      Armstrong · 06/21/2019
      Yes, you will need to prep with both.
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    Dphil · 05/31/2019
    Hi. Live in wonderful New Jersey. It’s been 4 days since I restored my 1 yr old IPE decks. Rained for several hours everyday since. Have AC for hardwoods and don’t see much of a dry spell in forecast to apply. Is surface dry ipe fine to start applying and 3-4 hours after to set before rain hits it?
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      Dphil · 06/03/2019
      What will be the preparation for the 12-18 month recoat on an IPE deck? What is the time of drying after rain or washing and product drying time before rain?
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        Armstrong · 06/04/2019
        Use the RAD Deck Cleaner for prep when recoating. You need 48 hours after the rain stops to apply and 6-12 hours after applying before a rain.
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      Armstrong · 05/31/2019
      Need 48 hours after rain and 12 hours before rain after applying.
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    carlb · 05/27/2019
    Can I apply both of the RAD products using low pressure on a power washer? If so, should I mix it more concentrated to compensate for the mixing with water in the washer?
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      Armstrong · 05/27/2019
      No, they cannot be applied through a pressure washer.
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    Joanne · 05/20/2019
    Used restore deck stripper on a treated pine deck. It did not remove all of the stain. Should we sandand then brighten?a