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 be 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.

 

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 pours 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
    Kathy Catalano · 04/06/2017
    I have a redwood deck, and plan is to use your stripper/brightener and then stain. How long is it okay to go without staining after stripping/cleaning since deck will be exposed? How long does the stripper/brightener take to dry? How long does it take for shipping if I bought these products from you (i.e., stripper/brightener and stain)? Thank you.
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    Administrator · 03/03/2017
    RogerGEwing:
    Can I use a borate solution (BoraCare) on my deck prior to staining with AC semi-transparent stain in order to control algae/mildew growth? Thanks

    The PDS says it creates a barrier for termites. This could also stop the stain from soaking into the wood grain. We would highly suggest a test area to make sure the AC is able to penetrated into the wood grain.
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    RGEwing · 03/03/2017
    Can I use a borate solution (BoraCare) on my deck prior to staining with AC semi-transparent stain in order to control algae/mildew growth? Thanks
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    Administrator · 02/27/2017
    Sandy:
    New #1 western cedar deck installed 3 weeks ago. Contractor said cedar has been kept indoors and can be stained now. Do I need to prep or can I just stain? Just ordered 5 gal. of Rustic Brown.

    You cannot stain it right away. See this article about new wood:

    http://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/new-decking-and-armstrong-clark-stain
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Sandy · 02/26/2017
    New #1 western cedar deck installed 3 weeks ago. Contractor said cedar has been kept indoors and can be stained now. Do I need to prep or can I just stain? Just ordered 5 gal. of Rustic Brown.
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    Administrator · 11/11/2016
    Donaldl.jennings:
    I am installing new hardwood deck, supposedly Ipe but appears more like Garapa, hardwood but less dense. 1. Would sanding with 80 or 100 grit be advisable, or should I just clean it. 2. Do all four sides need to be sealed or just the top surface. 3. Would you advise waiting 2-3 months to seal or do at time of install?

    Install and let sit for a few months. Prep with our Deck Cleaner, no need to sand. Stain the exposed wood only.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Donaldl.jennings · 11/10/2016
    I am installing new hardwood deck, supposedly Ipe but appears more like Garapa, hardwood but less dense. 1. Would sanding with 80 or 100 grit be advisable, or should I just clean it. 2. Do all four sides need to be sealed or just the top surface. 3. Would you advise waiting 2-3 months to seal or do at time of install?
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    Administrator · 10/05/2016
    Yes, it does help to clean and brighten after sanding. We suggest not using a finer grit then 80. 60 is better as the stain will soak in deeper.
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    lizheimerl · 10/04/2016
    We are sanding our 2 y.o. cedar deck, built-in benches and fence, in order to remove junky Cabot stain (stripped twice, but did not remove it all.) Should we use RAD cleaner and brightener after sanding, and before staining? If so, how long do we need to let the wood dry before applying stain? We've had many days of rain lately and it's hard to find a three-day window of dry weather. Also, we would like to finish off the sanding with 50 grit on the fence, 80 grit on the benches and 60 (or possibly 80) grit on the deck. Do you foresee any problem with this? Deck will be stained with ST Cedar; fence and benches will be ST Rustic Brown. Thank you!
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    Administrator · 09/27/2016
    Elaine Fischer:
    Hello. I wanted to slap some AC on the worn spots on my cedar deck, which was stripped and treated with AC four years ago and touched up once since then. Is it too late now that we are into shorter days, damp nights? I'm not sure it's 100% dry.

    As long as the wood is dry when you apply and the temps are above 55, you should be okay.
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    Elaine Fischer · 09/26/2016
    Hello. I wanted to slap some AC on the worn spots on my cedar deck, which was stripped and treated with AC four years ago and touched up once since then. Is it too late now that we are into shorter days, damp nights? I'm not sure it's 100% dry.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Administrator · 09/21/2016
    Dotsy29732:
    I plan to use the RAD Cleaner & Brightner before staining my new KDAT deck floor. Can the prepping be done at one time, or does wood need to dry between the clean & brighten steps?
    I read that only 1 coat of AC stain is recommended for KDAT wood, but read in AC Staining Instructions that if stain "penetrates within 30 minutes, another coat can be applied for added protection". Should I use 1 or 2 coats on new KDAT wood, in a full sun area?

    Best to do the Brightener right after you are done with the Cleaner. Just 1 coat for new KDAT wood.
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    Dotsy · 09/21/2016
    I plan to use the RAD Cleaner & Brightner before staining my new KDAT deck floor. Can the prepping be done at one time, or does wood need to dry between the clean & brighten steps?
    I read that only 1 coat of AC stain is recommended for KDAT wood, but read in AC Staining Instructions that if stain "penetrates within 30 minutes, another coat can be applied for added protection". Should I use 1 or 2 coats on new KDAT wood, in a full sun area?
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    Administrator · 09/13/2016
    See this about new decking:

    http://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/new-decking-and-armstrong-clark-stain
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    Kirk · 09/13/2016
    I have a new cedar deck that I would like to stain so it does not go to the gray color... I am looking at trying to keep the natural color as best I can. I ordered your samples and am liking the Semi Cedar color... With a brand new cedar deck am I doing the right thing trying to stain this or is it going to go to gray no matter what I do. Just looking for the best way to preserve the deck and try to keep a wood look versus the gray color. What steps, tips would give me the best results?
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    Administrator · 09/11/2016
    LeEllen Phares:
    We stripped and brightened our ipe deck with RAD 5 days ago. Stained with AC mahogany stain 3 days ago (no precip between). There wasn't any pooling but the area exposed to sun is still slightly oily and the area that is covered still has a thick oily residue. We didn't wipe because it didn't pool but it's still wet. Took one step onto covered deck and left shoe print so we wiped that area with a dry cloth and left a (barely) noticable lighter area. There will be 100 people on this deck in 7 days for a wedding. What do you suggest? Wipe with oil soaked rags? Thanks for any help

    Try rising off the excess oil that did not penetrate with water. It should remove most. If you use rags as well, make sure to saturate any oil rags with water and lay flat to dry outdoors.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    LeEllen Phares · 09/10/2016
    We stripped and brightened our ipe deck with RAD 5 days ago. Stained with AC mahogany stain 3 days ago (no precip between). There wasn't any pooling but the area exposed to sun is still slightly oily and the area that is covered still has a thick oily residue. We didn't wipe because it didn't pool but it's still wet. Took one step onto covered deck and left shoe print so we wiped that area with a dry cloth and left a (barely) noticable lighter area. There will be 100 people on this deck in 7 days for a wedding. What do you suggest? Wipe with oil soaked rags? Thanks for any help
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Administrator · 09/10/2016
    Rose:
    Hi, about those white and fuzzy patches after using the RAD kit- I'm wondering if sanding those spots down would be helpful before staining? I don't want to wet the wood as we want to stain tomorrow. What do you think?
    Thanks! -Rose

    You cannot spot sand just those areas. If you sand the entire deck, then you would show rinse the deck down with water after to remove sand dust.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Rose · 09/09/2016
    Hi, about those white and fuzzy patches after using the RAD kit- I'm wondering if sanding those spots down would be helpful before staining? I don't want to wet the wood as we want to stain tomorrow. What do you think?
    Thanks! -Rose
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    Administrator · 09/09/2016
    Rose:
    I just used the RAD cleaner and brightener last night on our (new but 4 months seasoned) red cedar deck. Now in the bright sunlight I see patches that appear white and other areas that are fuzzy. Are these normal or did I do something wrong. We hope to stain in another 36 hrs while we have a run of dry sunny weather. Thanks!

    Fuzzies are related directly related to the oxidation of the wood cells. When the exposed wood oxidizes, the wood will start to turn white or gray. When you prep, you have to remove this layer of oxidized wood cells. This can lead to the fuzzy look you are referring to. Typically washing with higher pressure will reduce this. Many times you will not see this when stained as the stain colors will enhance the wood grain.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Rose · 09/08/2016
    I just used the RAD cleaner and brightener last night on our (new but 4 months seasoned) red cedar deck. Now in the bright sunlight I see patches that appear white and other areas that are fuzzy. Are these normal or did I do something wrong. We hope to stain in another 36 hrs while we have a run of dry sunny weather. Thanks!
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    Administrator · 08/31/2016
    No. Install the wood, let weather for 2-3 months and prep with a deck cleaner first. Just one coat of the Armstrong Clark and do not back wipe to remove any excess. The AC needs to soak into the wood and cure properly.
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    Susan · 08/30/2016
    We are planning to install a new ipe front porch. I read on another site to not clean the new wood, but instead to: lightly sand with 80-grit sandpaper, vacuum off dust, rub down with mineral spirits, then put finish on, rub off excess, and let boards dry out prior to installing. It was also recommended to stain all four sides before installing. Do you agree? Thanks.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Administrator · 08/22/2016
    Christine J.:
    Hello. We have a new deck which was installed 4 months ago. I have never sealed a deck before so doing my homework prior to prepping and staining. A couple of questions below - your response is appreciated.

    1. Do you recommend sanding first, then applying the RAD wood cleaner? If so, how long do we wait after sanding until we can apply the wood cleaner? Note that we have a lot of "splinters" sticking out.

    2. Do I only need 1 wood cleaner kit? I am assuming it depends on the size of the deck, but I have not seen specification on your website. Not sure if a kit will work on our 14x16 deck with stairs and railing.

    Thanks!!

    If you have splinters it would be best to use the Step 1 first, let dry and lightly buff the surface to remove the splinters with a sanding pad. Apply the Step 2 Brightener after and rinse well.

    One kit covers about 750 sq feet or more for new wood.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Christine J. · 08/21/2016
    Hello. We have a new deck which was installed 4 months ago. I have never sealed a deck before so doing my homework prior to prepping and staining. A couple of questions below - your response is appreciated.

    1. Do you recommend sanding first, then applying the RAD wood cleaner? If so, how long do we wait after sanding until we can apply the wood cleaner? Note that we have a lot of "splinters" sticking out.

    2. Do I only need 1 wood cleaner kit? I am assuming it depends on the size of the deck, but I have not seen specification on your website. Not sure if a kit will work on our 14x16 deck with stairs and railing.

    Thanks!!
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Administrator · 08/21/2016
    Doug Halley:
    The interior of the contemporary house is entirely clear heart redwood. Built in 1980 it appears to have never finished with any products. The wood has faded in many areas and has become very dry everywhere but overall has retained very good color and has never grayed. It has been stained lightly in some areas from general household effects. We would like to apply transparent finish. What prep steps and product do you suggest? We will be tinting the floor to ceiling windows so I am not concerned about UV protection level of the stain, I really want to retain the natural aged redwood color.

    Armstrong is an exterior stain that comes in tinted colors to protect with UV. The Natural is the lightest tint and will darken the grain some. Take inconsideration that this is an oil based stain meant to be applied outdoors. It can be used indoors, but you will need ventilation for the oil smell to dissapate.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Doug Halley · 08/20/2016
    The interior of the contemporary house is entirely clear heart redwood. Built in 1980 it appears to have never finished with any products. The wood has faded in many areas and has become very dry everywhere but overall has retained very good color and has never grayed. It has been stained lightly in some areas from general household effects. We would like to apply transparent finish. What prep steps and product do you suggest? We will be tinting the floor to ceiling windows so I am not concerned about UV protection level of the stain, I really want to retain the natural aged redwood color.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Administrator · 08/14/2016
    Brenda:
    Are the instructions for prepping new deck wood also applicable to a new (fully exposed on one side) Glulam?
    I have a Glulam beam, and two beam ends exposed to weather - is your transparent stain enough to protect them over the long term (repeated applications are expected over time)?

    Yes you have to treat this as new wood. The semi-trans will give better UV protection over the transparents.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Brenda · 08/13/2016
    Are the instructions for prepping new deck wood also applicable to a new (fully exposed on one side) Glulam?
    I have a Glulam beam, and two beam ends exposed to weather - is your transparent stain enough to protect them over the long term (repeated applications are expected over time)?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Administrator · 08/10/2016
    ddichting:
    We are re-staining our deck that I stained last August in transparent grey. Have addend new boards 6 months ago and want to have all blend in. Plan on using the clean kit before applying stain. How dry does the deck need to be before re-staining as rain in the afternoon is common in Atlanta this time of year.

    48 hours after prep and rain for the wood to dry.