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

Ask a Question or Post a Picture...
You are guest ( Sign Up ? )
or post as a guest
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Doug Sims · 05/20/2020
    I have prepared deck. My plan is to apply wet on wet. Can I walk on applied stain?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/20/2020
      The first coat, yes, but not the second coat.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Melissa · 05/18/2020
    I read on the Armstrong site that you did not have to buy a RAD cleaner, you could use bleach and water thus saving time and money.. is that in fact truth?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/18/2020
      We do not suggest this on our site as bleach is bad for wood and breaks down the lignin. This is a known issue.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Scott · 05/13/2020
    Do you have to power wash it before the cleaner/ brightener? After the cleaner brightener?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/13/2020
      You pressure wash while using the Cleaner and Brightener.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Simon · 05/13/2020
    How quickly after stripping and brightening should I apply stain? I'm trying to figure out how much time I would have between dry time plus any upcoming rain.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/13/2020
      Stain 48 hours after prep and within 2 weeks.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Daniel · 05/13/2020
    I’m planning to stain some Western red cedar wood wrapped around an outdoor kitchen area. I purchased your Driftwood gray color and the RAD cleaner. The cedar planks have been installed over a period of 6 months, so it’s been exposed to the elements between 3-9 months. I was just planning to clean the wood before staining. Do I also need to use the RAD Brightener before staining?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/13/2020
      Yes.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Daniel · 05/13/2020
      Forgot to mention that all the wood is still natural/unfinished without any stain applied
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Jessica · 05/11/2020
    Here’s what it looks like right now !
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Jessica · 05/11/2020
    Here’s what it looks like right now!
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Jessica · 05/11/2020
    I have a huge terrasse (IPE wood) to stain using your oil (for a second year). I cleaned it with pressure washer and only water for now since I’m in Canada and I cannot import your products... what should I do to make sure the PH is neutral before I apply the stain?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      gord · 06/20/2020
      I import them all the time. I use Crossborderpickups and they bring it in for me. 5 Gallon pails.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Jessica · 08/06/2020
        I couldn't import because of the COVID... but now it's fine :) Thanks for your reply though !
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Raymond McKenzie · 05/11/2020
    Hello Armstrong Representatives,

    Need your help . I live in CA close to the coast and have a 4 year old IPE deck with bench area that I’m intending to restore and stain in the near future. The deck was stained with Penofin Transparent Natural sealer right after installment back in 2016 Please see attached photo). My deck and bench area – which have grayed over the years – are around 430 sq. ft. (Please see attached photo). I would like to use the RAD (cleaner and brightener) to prep my deck and bench area for staining with one of Armstrong’s oil based stains designed for IPE decks. I have 2 questions: (1) in looking at my deck do I need to sand it and (2) what Armstrong IPE stain should I use if I want to have the natural color of my IPE wood? Thanks for any help you can give me?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/11/2020
      1. No need to sand.

      2. Use Amber color.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Jennifer · 05/01/2020
    We stained our deck with AC semi-transparent stain last summer. This summer, my husband wants to reapply the same stain to only the horizontal deck surface (not the rails, spindles or posts), because he isn't happy with how it's held up under some areas with foot traffic. I purchased the restore-a-deck clean and brightening kit, because I assumed since it was stained last summer, we would need to take that prep step again. He doesn't think we need to, he thinks he can just go out and put another coat on the deck floor. He's worried if he goes through the clean/brighten step, it will affect the other deck surfaces he doesn't want to restain. I think if the wood is wet, the product isn't allowed to dry and we rinse well, that will not be an issue. I also think he just thinks it sounds like a lot more work. Is it correct to do the prep step since we stained almost a year ago?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/01/2020
      You have to prep when recoating and you can just do all the floor.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Kevin M · 04/24/2020
    My deck currently has AC semi-transparent cedar stain on it. I’m considering going to an AC semi-solid stain. Do I use the RAD stripper & brightner or the RAD cleaner & brightner?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Sean · 04/21/2020
    I am having a new cedar fence installed. How long do I need to wait before staining, and what prep do I need to do. It will be about 3500 sq ft. Can you also give me an idea of how much stain required. Tongue and groove panels with the top foot being lattice
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Maribeth · 04/20/2020
    I had a new deck put in fall of 2017. Stained with Armstrong Clark- I need to restain it again, do i do the RAD before I restain?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Jolie · 04/10/2020
    My deck was sanded and restained last summer. It is looking mil dewy is some sections. Should I use just the cleaner or the cleaner brightener... The brightener looks like pre staining application?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/11/2020
      The prep products are only used if you are planning on reapplying, not general cleaning of dirt, etc.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Kevin Micks · 04/10/2020
    I have a cabana made of Douglas Fir that I stained with Sikken's SRD oil based semi transparent stain 3 years ago. Can I use RAD Cleaner and Brightener and then re stain with Armstrong Clark oil based semi transparent stain. Please email me the answer at kmicks@rogers.com. Thanks
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/10/2020
      No, you would have to remove the Sikkens first.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    JoeBots · 04/10/2020
    Do I need to strain semi transparent cedar stain before spraying on with airless sprayer? If so what micron filter is recommended.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Bob Angus · 04/08/2020
    Hello, We used Semi-transparent cedar stain on our new build siding two years ago. It still looks intact but I want to add a maintenance coat before it deteriorates. Can I simply pressure wash and apply new stain over the old?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Tracey · 03/07/2020
    Small project - getting ready to clean and brighten cedar arch support posts (installed last fall) for composite deck - okay to make small batch of RAD solutions, use bristle brush and hose off prior to stain?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 03/08/2020
      Yes, or pressure wash off lightly.
  • 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.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Bill · 09/04/2019
    Will RAD harm my powder coated metal ballusters?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/05/2019
      It shouldn't but best ot do a test spot first.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Oliver · 09/03/2019
        Thank you very much. I appreciate the help.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 08/28/2019
      No, best to use the RAD products for the proper prep.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      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.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 08/17/2019
      Yes, so you get an even application when you recoat.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Anna · 08/17/2019
        Thanks for the reply. The original finish was Armstrong transparent. Can we use semi-transparent this time without stripping?
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          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.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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,
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 08/14/2019
      Post a picture of the current condition.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        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
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          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.