Best Deck Stripper – In-Depth Review of the Top Wood Deck Strippers

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Over time, your once beautiful wooden deck may begin to show signs of wear and tear. UV rays, foot traffic, and harsh weather conditions can penetrate the stain and begin to degrade it. You will reach a stage where it will be necessary to restore your deck so it is returned to its original look. Before you begin repainting or restaining your deck, you will need to strip away the old stain. Fortunately, this is a fairly easy job which you can do yourself. In this article, we help to guide you through the considerations you need to take into account when buying the best stripper for your wooden deck.  




Why You Use a Stain Remover for Wood

Your once beautiful deck may be starting to look a little weathered. Decks are exposed to things such as all forms of weather conditions and foot traffic daily. A wooden deck should last a long time if they are given a protective coat and are painted, but with time they will show wear and tear. In order to keep your deck looking beautiful and clean, a deck stripper will be your best friend.

Deck Stain Stripper


The Benefits of Using Stain Stripper

When it comes time for your deck to receive some maintenance, the first step is choosing the right stripper to restore your wood to the natural state. In order to restore the stain or paint on your deck, it is essential that you remove any old stain, any mold that has developed, and any other dirt. If you fail to strip your wooden deck, any stain or paint you apply will not adhere fully and you will only create more problems for yourself in the future. A stain stripper is the best option for this first job.

  • It will not only remove a stain but also clean away any algae, dirt, or mold that may have formed.
  • You can return your wooden surface to its original state with the use of a stain stripper.
  • Using a stain stripper removes varnish, paint, and sealers.
  • It prepares the wood for all future projects.
  • Your deck will look amazing once again after using a good quality stain remover.



Types of Deck Stain Remover

There are different types of stain remover available they all do the same job but have varying ingredients. The deck stripper you choose will depend on several factors, and there are three primary strippers available on the market.

Best Paint Remover for Wood Deck


Caustic Deck Stain Stripper

This stripper takes the old finish and dissolves it turning it into another substance, you need to be extra careful when using them as it is made up of a base that is corrosive and includes potent acids. Examples of caustic deck stripper include:

  • Oxalic Acid
  • Lye – potassium hydroxide or sodium


Solvent-Based Deck Stain Stripper

This particular form of stain stripper dissolves finishes or stains chemically. These are strong cleaners that can remove old paint with ease, however, they can be very toxic. When using them you will have to be careful and consult the manufacturer’s instructions. Certain countries have declared methylene chloride illegal, so it may not be available for you. Here are the most popular solvent-based deck strippers:

  • Methylene Chloride
  • Acetone
  • Alcohol
  • Toluene

Need Stain Stripper


Biochemical Deck Stain Stripper

Biochemical deck stain strippers produce fewer odors, are less toxic, and much safer for the user and environment. In comparison to the other options, biochemical deck stain strippers are less potent and you will have to leave them on the wood for some time. If you are looking for an eco-friendly option, try one of these:

  • Wood-pulp extract
  • Soy oil
  • Terpenes (made from pine or citrus)
  • Lactic acid
  • Citric acid

All of the products listed will remove the stain accordingly but you must ensure all of the old finish has been removed to produce good results.



A Buying Guide for Stain Stripper

Even once you know which kind of deck stripper you want to use, there are many options available on the market. There are a number of things to take into consideration when choosing the right deck stain stripper, including the finish you are removing, the environmental impact, the size, and the application method.

Best Deck Stain Stripper Brand


Deck Finish

You need to determine what is currently on the deck and what needs to be removed. Do you simply wish to remove dirt or are you looking to remove finishes, solid stains, or varnish? Depending on the wood’s surface you will need to use either a cleaner or a deck stripper. You can use a deck cleaner for dirty, old wood which has mildew. While a stain stripper is better for removing mildew, dirt, paint, varnish, and stains that require something more heavy-duty. It all depends on your requirements and what the wood surface needs.

It can be a lot harder to strip off a solid stain as opposed to a semi-transparent one.

Keep in mind that deck strippers and paint are two different things. Stain penetrates the wood, while paint usually creates a layer over the wood, each has been formulated to assist with differences. Your deck stripper works better on a stain than a paint stripper does as it dissolves a stain.


Environmental Impact

This may be an element that is particularly important for you, particularly if you have plants located close to the deck surface you do not want to use a product that can potentially harm the vegetation. Eco-friendly deck stain strippers are safer for not just plants and the environment but also for your family members and pets too. When you are working with the stripper you may spill some on the ground so having a biodegradable product is imperative.

Top Deck Stain Remover


Stain Stripper Quantity

Before you buy your stain stripper you need to measure the size of your deck so that you get the correct quantity of product. You want to be prepared so you do not have to head back to the store halfway through the job and on the other hand, you do not want to buy too much and then the excess will go to waste.


Application Methods

It is important to ensure the surface is cleaned and we recommend using a pressure washer to clean the deck. You can always purchase a pressure washer or rent it. In terms of your deck stain remover, you should find instructions on the application which have been provided by the manufacturer. Certain deck stain removers require particular application methods which have to be adhered to to ensure you get the required results.

Figuring out what equipment or tools you may require beforehand to help you be prepared before beginning.



Best Deck Stripper Recommendations

We recommend consulting product reviews online to assist you in selecting the correct product to remove the paint from your wooden deck. Before purchasing look at other people’s reviews who have already tried the product to guide you to the correct product. We recommend the following products to assist you with stripping your deck.

Deck Paint Remover


Great Overall Option for Deck Stain Stripper: DEFY Exterior Wood Stain Stripper

This product is a ready-to-use formula that you just have to decant into a sprayer and apply directly to the wooden surface. This product will remove mold, mildew, semi-transparent stains, dirt, clear wood finishes, varnishes, and penetrating sealers while also restoring the wooden surface to its original beauty. Sadly, it will not remove any paint, solid stains, or any form of film-forming coatings.

This wood stripper is simple to use and is biodegradable. We recommend testing a small area initially using the method you wish to apply before you begin stripping the wooden surface. With one gallon of the stain stripper, you will cover an area of roughly 150 square feet.

DEFY Exterior Wood Stain Stripper
  • Easy to use stain stripper removes weathered wood stains
  • This product will also remove dirt, and mill glaze to restore the wood 
  • Simply pour in a pump-up sprayer and spray on any wood surface
View on Amazon

When applying this product, we recommend using a brush, pump sprayer, or roller. You can apply the product generously to the wooden surface. It will take roughly 15 to 30 minutes for the stripper to work, once the finish starts to lift from the surface you can begin scrubbing using a stiff bristle brush. Make sure you are working in the same direction as the grain of the wood. Use lots of water to remove the stripper, and if you use a pressure washer you will not have to scrub the surface.

You should be careful that the wood does not get damaged when you are power washing and again it is imperative to move in the direction of the grain of the wood. If there is any stain remaining you will simply have to repeat the process.

As soon as you have rinsed it you will need to apply a neutralizer, and if you have used a caustic stripper you will need to apply a wood brightener before you begin re-staining the wood. This product will bring the wooden surface back to its gorgeous natural state and has been specifically formulated to be used on exterior wooden surfaces. You will have to wear protective gear and equipment when using this product as it is toxic.


  • Penetrating sealers will be removed
  • Ideal for exterior wooden surfaces
  • Affordable
  • Simple to use


  • Formula is toxic
  • Does not work on particular coatings


Great Option for an Eco-Friendly Paint Remover: DUMOND Chemicals Smart Strip

This advanced paint remover is a good value for money option. This product is water-based and made with a bio-degradable formula for an odor-free deck paint remover. There is no harmful methylene chloride in the formulation and this means the product is non-carcinogenic. You can use this product to remove many layers (up to 15 coats) of any form of varnishes, water-based, urethanes, oil-based, and even lead paints.

It is great for use on multiple surfaces such as fiberglass, brick, plastic, plaster, glass, wood, concrete, metal, and stone. It is free from VOCs (Volatile Organic Compound) and is also odor-free so is environmentally friendly, while also having a neutral pH level and is completely biodegradable.

DUMOND SmartStrip Advanced Paint Remover
  • The non-toxic formula is safe for the user and the environment
  • A highly effective solution removes multiple layers with a single-use
  • Does not contain methylene chloride, any caustics, or toxic chemicals
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The product is a paste that you can spread on a roller or a brush, or it can be applied using an airless sprayer. You will need to leave it for anywhere between three or 24 hours (depending on the type of coating and the number of coats you are removing). The paint stripper will stay wet and effective for a long period thanks to the formulation and will not require any Peel Away Paper. When you are happy that the stain has softened enough you can use a scraper to remove the paste and then you can remove the rest using either a power washer or a wet sponge. No neutralizer is required.


  • Odor-free
  • Affordable
  • Biodegradable
  • Can be used safely


  • To do the work, the product needs to be left on for a long time


Best Professional Paint Remover: SUNNYSIDE Paint Remover

This company has been manufacturing cleaners, paint removers, and paint solvents for over 128 years. They are known for their level of quality and they are considered a trusted producer by any DIY enthusiast and professionals alike. This product can remove many layers of lacquer, stain, paint, varnish, and even urethane.

As a biodegradable, non-flammable product, this stripper does not contain any toxic methylene chloride. It takes 30 minutes to begin working. The formulation adheres well to vertical surfaces and rounded surfaces alike and is made in a semi-paste consistency, allowing your paint to be removed with ease.

SUNNYSIDE Advanced Varnish Remover
  • Safer paint and varnish remover with no methylene chloride or NMP
  • Removes paints, varnishes, stains, lacquers, and urethanes 
  • Begins working in 60 minutes to remove up to 7 layers of varnish
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You can apply it to the surface with either a brush, spray, or roller and it will remove the majority of paints and varnishes that are either oil-based and water-based. The product can be used on surfaces located both inside and outside.

It will attack the finish of the surface and will not damage the wood but will lighten it. On metal surfaces, it will not cause erosion. It is very effective on surfaces such as epoxy, automotive, shellac, marine, oil-based paint, metal, varnish, masonry, removing lacquer, wood, and also polyurethane finishes.


  • High-quality product
  • Biodegradable and low odor
  • Multiple layers can be removed
  • Non-flammable
  • Can be used on both outdoor and indoor surfaces


  • The product instruction letter is very important, you have to follow it
  • Expensive



How to Apply Your Wood Deck Stripper

It is an easy process to remove paint from your wooden deck as long as you follow the instructions. The results take time and effort to achieve but will restore your wooden deck to its original glory. As you are working with chemicals it is important you are safe and wear the necessary protective gear such as masks, goggles, and gloves. We also suggest wearing old clothing, incase you spill any stripper.

Best Stain Stripper

Before you begin applying anything read the product directions carefully. You may be required to take a few steps before you can begin the process of applying the wood deck stripper. Start by clearing anything that may get your way from the area. Remove any plants that you can from the area and cover any that can’t be moved because certain deck stain removers can be toxic and are caustic.

You should always test the product out on a small portion of your deck before tackling the entire deck. Apply the stain stripper to the test area and allow it 30 to 60 minutes to penetrate. If, after that time nothing happens, allow the stain stripper to penetrate for a little longer as certain stain strippers take longer on different surfaces.

Certain products will not require scrubbing, but tough stains might need a small amount of scrubbing. Alternatively, you can remove the finish using a pressure washer. 


Applying the Stain Stripper

You can apply stain strippers in a number of different ways, all depending on which product you have chosen to use. You can apply premixed stripping products immediately without a problem. Other products come in the form of a powder that you have to prepare, such as combining the powder and hot water before you begin applying.

Wood Deck Stripper

A lot of people feel using a sprayer is a good option to apply a stain stripper as this method of application is simple to do and ensures the product is distributed evenly and can cover large areas quickly and without difficulty. Check first that the spray unit you are using is capable of spraying this type of product as you can run the risk of it clogging up the sprayer nozzle. Ensure you clean the sprayer unit after each use. Stain stripper can also be applied with either a roller or a brush. Whichever method you use always read the product’s instruction label before you begin.


Removing the Stain Stripper

You can remove the wood deck stripper by using a pressure sprayer, using something like putty, or scraping it off. For a larger space, such as a deck, your best option is a pressure sprayer which you can either rent or purchase.


Additional Treatments

Many feel that applying an additional treatment as a process is important to ensure your wooden surface is refinished correctly, a potential treatment would be a brightener. Others feel it is not necessary to apply something like a brightener. What you wish to do is all up to you. If you are using a caustic stripper, you may notice that the wood becomes duller, and using a brightener will counteract that and restore the wood to as close as possible to its original state.

Wood Deck Stripper Best

If you are going to use a semi-transparent stain on your wooden deck surface, we suggest that you then definitely use a brightener. It isn’t important to use a brightener if you are using a more solid stain or paint. The wood can look faded when you have used certain caustic strippers on it, if you wish to revive the wood you can then apply a brightener, consider this when you are refinishing your deck.



Tips and Tricks for Using the Best Deck Stripper

So, you have decided to refinish your deck and as a part of the process, you will be required to then apply a deck stain stripper. It may seem like a simple process to apply the deck stripper and remove it. Sometimes there are additional things you can do to achieve stunning results; these tips should assist you.

  • Deck cleaner or wood deck stripper. In situations where you are working with an old deck that has peeling paint and other types of problems that require more than a standard clean, you will then require a stripper and some refinishing.
  • Consult the instructions. Certain deck stain removers are ready to use as they are pre-mixed while others are in powder form and require you to mix them with hot water before applying them.
  • Wear the relevant safety gear.
  • Protect any plants. If there are any plants near the deck either remove them (if you can) or cover them so that they are protected from the harsh chemicals which could damage them.
  • Work in cooler weather. Apply the stripper in cooler weather as it will then not dry too quickly.
  • Do not rush when working with your stripper. Do not work too quickly allow the stripper time to work, be patient, and consult the label for clarity.
  • Power washer. You can potentially mar the wooden surface if you are not careful when using a power washer.

Using Deck Stain Remover

  • Note the wood’s condition before you begin. Check for wood rot and remove any nails that might be sticking out. Address any serious issues before moving on.
  • Use a wood scraper to remove any loos stains. This will save you wood stripper as you will require less. Occasionally before applying the stripper, you will need to sand down the surface, consult the product label before continuing.
  • Buy more than you think you will use. There is a good chance you will end up using more of the stripper than you thought initially you would require.
  • Start at the railings. When applying stripper to the deck, start at the railings and then work towards the wood boards.
  • Hard to remove finishes. If you are working with a hard-to-remove finish it might be necessary to leave the stripper on for a longer period and apply it more than once.
  • When you have finished removing the old stain the wood may be darker or duller due to the stripper, you can use a brightener to repair this.
  • Make sure the deck stain remover you are using is of decent quality.



Maintaining a stunning deck can be the pride of your home, and with the best deck stripper, you can easily maintain your deck without requiring professional assistance. 



Frequently Asked Questions


Applying a Stain Stripper, How Long Should I Leave It on?

Depending on the type of stripper you are using and the stain you are removing impact the time required. On average leave your stripper on for anywhere between three and 24 hours, you may even require several applications. Ensure that it does not dry out.


What Is Stain Stripper?

This is a product you can use to remove old finishes and stains from a wooden surface, it will also assist you in removing other imperfections including dirt and mold.


Stripping Vs. Sanding a Wood Deck, Which is Better?

You will require extra time for sanding and can be used on areas that require less penetration or on flat areas. The better and easier option is a wood deck stripper though it is quite pricey.


Is it Necessary to Sand Before You Apply a Stain Stripper?

Potentially, it all depends on which type of deck stain remover you are using. Certain products require you to sand down the surface beforehand, while others do not require it, it is best to consult the product’s instructions.


Do You Have to Strip the Deck Before Applying a New Stain?

Removing any old stain is important if you wish to properly refinish your wooden deck. By preparing the wooden surface and using a deck stain stripper you will allow the new stain to penetrate the wood effectively and you will achieve the best results.