Exterior Wood Care Products
& Paint Additive Solutions
Frequently Asked Questions about Wood Care
Q: What can I use to remove old stain from my deck?
A: In order to achieve the beautiful finish you want, you need to begin with a clean, dry surface. Flood® Wood Finish Remover can be used to remove even the most stubborn coatings like acrylic or oil-based solid color or semi-transparent stains.
Q: Why should I finish my wood?
A: Some people wonder why wood should be finished at all. After all, some wooden structures have lasted hundreds of years. This is true, but not all wooden structures will last hundreds of years if unprotected. Weather and the wood itself can develop rot and deteriorate to the point of collapse. Another thing to consider is appearance. If you think natural wood will retain its color, this is not correct. Sunlight turns all woods yellowish or brownish, then gray. After the initial color change and graying, further changes develop slowly. Dark woods eventually become lighter and light woods darker. Damage from sun and water, which gets into the wood and makes it alternately expand and contract as it goes through wetting and drying cycles, then can lead to surface checks, which can then develop into cracks. Flood stain products can help protect against this damage. Another problem with bare wood is mildew. If a surface is left unprotected, mildew will cover it, making it look gray or black. The problem is that on the way to a uniform gray or black color — if you like that look — the wood takes on a blotchy look. Overall, mildew is not dangerous but it isn't visually appealing.
Q: My deck has weathered to gray and I would like to restore the natural wood tone. How do I go about it?
A: Cleaning the deck with Flood Cleaner/Brightener Concentrate will remove dirt and stains from your wood while brightening the gray color back to the natural wood tone. Once the deck has dried, one coat of a Flood stain such as CWF-UV® will enhance the natural beauty of the wood while protecting it from exposure to sun and bad weather.
Q: What is extractive bleeding?
A: Extractive (tannin) bleeding is the washing away of water-soluble color from within your wood. Extractives are most evident in darker-colored wood such as redwood and cedar, but they can be found to some degree in nearly all woods except pressure-treated pine. The two most notable effects of extractive bleeding are fading and nail staining.
Q: Why should I use Flood Wood Finish Remover instead of Flood Cleaner/Brightener Concentrate to clean my pressure-treated wood?
A: Both products work very well on pressure-treated wood. Flood Cleaner/Brightener Concentrate is a cleaner and brightener and good for yearly cleaning; Flood Wood Finish Remover is a remover. Wood Finish Remover should be your choice if a weathered finish is present or if the wood is extremely dirty.
Q: Will Flood Cleaner/Brightener Concentrate bring a natural color back to all wood?
A: Flood Cleaner/Brightener Concentrate will not bring the natural color back to pressure-treated wood, because technically its natural colors were lost when it was treated. For other woods, the answer is yes, unless the discoloration is from some treatment or finish used in the past that has permanently discolored it. In some cases, you may have to use a stronger solution and allow it to remain on the surface longer.
Q: What is the difference between the various categories of stain colors?
A: Exterior stains typically fall into three basic categories: transparent/translucent, semi-transparent, and solid color, depending on the percentage of solid pigments or resins present in the mixture. The less pigment in the stain, the more the wood grain shows through. Alternatively, the more pigment in the stain, the more opaque the color.
Q: How do you know if a transparent/translucent wood finish is good?
A: The best exterior transparent/translucent wood finishes are high in resin solids and contain UV absorbers and mildewcides. They perform by penetrating into the wood cells and curing to become part of the cell structure. In this way, they become an effective barrier to ultraviolet radiation and moisture attack. UV absorbers and mildewcides combine to maintain the natural beauty of the wood for a much longer period than water repellents and wood preservatives.
Q: I just built a beautiful new deck with pressure-treated wood. I am very concerned that I put the right product on my deck right away to protect it. What is the best product to apply now?
A: Although pressure-treated wood resists insects and decay, it's still vulnerable to moisture and sun damage. The same is true for cedar, redwood and other exterior wood. Regardless of whether the wood is new or weathered, it needs to be protected to prevent discoloration, splitting and warping. Many new wood surfaces can have a hard, shiny condition called mill glaze that prevents maximum penetration and adhesion of a finish. It's important that this is removed, along with other factory-applied sealers and natural wood chemicals, and the wood fibers are opened before you apply a penetrating oil finish like Flood CWF-UV® for long-term protection. To test if the wood can accept a penetrating finish, sprinkle water on the surface — if water is absorbed within a minute or two, the surface is ready for finishing. If water is not absorbed, wait 30 days and re-test. Or, treat the surface with a mixture of Flood Wood Finish Remover at a ratio of one gallon of Flood Wood Finish Remover to four gallons of water, scrub with a stiff, synthetic brush, and rinse or pressure wash off. Then re-test for absorbency. If water is absorbed, then it is OK to continue coating with Flood deck stains.
Q: Looks like there are countless layers of sealers, finishes or waxes on my deck. How do I get down to the clean bare wood to start fresh?
A: Old finishes, sealers and dirt can build up over the years to give your deck a hazy, weather-worn look. Flood Wood Finish Remover is specifically designed to get under and lift off old finishes, sealers and dirt from your deck. Flood Wood Finish Remover will give you a clean, sound surface for refinishing. A powerful lift-off is essential for a great finish.
Q: What about new wood? Do I still have to clean it? Isn't it already clean?
A: Just because wood is new doesn't make it clean. Lying around in the lumberyard can subject it to a variety of contaminants, including algae, dirt, mildew, tannins and more.
Q: The cedar fence surrounding my yard was painted with red latex stain. How do I remove this?
A: Siding, decks, railings or fences — whatever you're stripping, getting through to the bare wood is critical. Flood Wood Finish Remover is a powerful formula that makes it easier to lift and remove weathered oil or latex solid color stains, transparent/translucent wood finishes or semi-transparent stains. It is thick enough to cling to vertical surfaces and strong enough to strip even latex solid-hide stains.
Q: Is there a difference between sealers and stains?
A: Yes, although the terms are often used interchangeably. Often transparent/translucent finishes are called sealers but even that can be confusing. Look for finishes that penetrate into the wood to provide protection from the inside out. Sealers that sit on the surface are prone to wear from the elements and foot traffic. Stains, on the other hand, include semi-transparent and solid color finishes that come in a variety of colors.
Q: How can I prevent mold and mildew?
A: There is no simple answer. Mildew and mold spores occur naturally and will grow on moist, shady wood common on many decks. A bleach and water solution will remove the mold and mildew stains, but, unless conditions change, the mold will return.
Q: If I can't prevent mold, how can I control its growth?
A: Using a penetrating finish that prevents the contact between the wood, moisture and mold spores will reduce mold growth. Also, regular cleaning will prevent mold buildup.
Q: My deck is gray. How do I get it clean?
A: The gray results from the reaction of the sun's UV rays with the wood fibers of the deck. First, clean the deck with an oxalic acid cleaner, such as Flood Cleaner/Brightener Concentrate, to remove the gray without damaging the wood. Then, apply a penetrating transparent/translucent finish.
Q: The stain on my deck is worn and peeling. Can I just re-stain it?
A: Unfortunately, the answer is no. The old stain will need to be removed before a new finish can be applied. Look for an outdoor stain remover, like Flood Wood Finish Remover, that is designed to work with both oil and acrylic finishes. Stripping the deck is not difficult, but be sure to follow the label directions closely. Once the deck has been cleaned down to the bare wood, apply a transparent/translucent, semi-transparent or solid color Flood stain.
Q: I stained my deck last year; do I need to re-stain this year?
A: Probably not, especially if using Flood deck stains. If the finish is sound and there is no sign of wear, you probably only need to clean the deck. Look for an oxalic acid cleaner, like Cleaner/Brightener Concentrate, and follow the label instructions. Your deck will be clean and the color restored without bleaching.
Q: What do I need to do before I can re-stain broken or warped wood?
A: If your siding, shingles or shakes are warped, split or broken you need to re-nail or replace them before applying a finish.
Q: Why is treated lumber called "pressure-treated"?
A: The lumber is inserted into a sealed cylindrical tank about 7 feet in diameter by 60 feet long. The tank is completely filled with a diluted solution of chemical and water and then pressurized. This pressure forces the chemical into the wood fibers, making it "pressure-treated."
Q: Does the treatment in all treated wood prevent mold and mildew?
A: No. In fact, most treated lumber is not mold and mildew resistant. Some treated material does contain a mold inhibitor. In some stores, lumber will appear to be dirty or even have black spots. That is mold!
Q: Why does some lumber warp before it is used?
A: The treating process restores moisture to the wood. Lumber stored in very dry or sunny conditions will dry too quickly, thus causing warping. For this reason, most material is inventoried outside in covered sheds. Material should be stored outside, out of direct sunlight, until the project is ready.
Q: How do I choose the right stain for my deck?
A: First, ask yourself: what do you want your deck to look like? If you like the natural beauty of wood, look for a transparent/translucent finish. These finishes enhance the wood grain and character while providing protection from water and the sun's UV rays. Expect the finish to last 2-3 years. If you want to add a touch of color but still want to see the grain of the wood, a semi-transparent finish is what you need. They come in a variety of colors and can be mixed and matched with solid colors to meet your creative need. Expect these finishes to last 3 or more years. Older decks, outdoor furniture and siding often benefit from the hiding power of solid color stain. These stains penetrate well to provide long-lasting protection and stand up to heavy foot traffic. Expect solid color stains to last 5 years on decks and up to 15 years on siding. Regardless of the look you are after, Flood deck stains are available to provide the right solution for you.
Q: Why do I have to stain my deck every year?
A: You don't. Finish longevity depends on its clarity and how it is applied. The sun's UV rays penetrate the finish and breakdown the surface of the wood beneath. Darker and more opaque finishes prevent the rays from penetrating and the finishes last longer. Top quality transparent/translucent finishes can be expected to last 2-3 years. Semi-transparent finishes (those that have a color but allow the wood grain to show through) will last 3 or more years. solid color finishes, similar to a painted surface, will last 5 or more years.
Q: I'm confused about using bleach on wood. Should bleach be used to maintain wood?
A: Like other exterior wood care products, chlorine bleach has a function if used correctly and carefully. It is the only readily available product that will effectively kill mildew. If mildew is present, use a mixture of bleach and water but neutralize it after 5-10 minutes with an acid-based product like Flood Cleaner/Brightener Concentrate and flush the wood with large amounts of clean water. Neutralization will help prevent damage from the bleach. There are some products that require the use of bleach prior to application to sterilize the wood and to raise the pH of the wood to an acceptable level. The proper use of bleach should be specified on all product labels. Note: Bleach is not a cleaner and it will not remove dirt. When dirt and mildew are present, both a detergent and bleach will be required to do a proper job.
Q: How do varnishes and polyurethane sealants compare to transparent/translucent wood finishes?
A: Varnishes and polyurethane sealants are clear coatings that protect the wood by forming a continuous film of resin over the wood surface. They are generally only suitable for small surfaces such as doors and outdoor furniture. Unlike a finish, they fail by cracking and peeling and are very difficult to recoat.