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How to Prep for a Successful Stain Project

Before staining your wood, it’s critical that you properly clean surfaces that will receive new coatings. Proper cleaning can affect penetration, adhesion and the long-term durability of the coating. Removing dirt, mildew and loose wood fibers significantly improves the adhesion of stain to your wood.

Clean to succeed


Cleaning with the proper deck cleaning product also has a big impact on the final color and on the ease of removal of mold, mildew and algae stains. A really deep clean is easily achievable with FLOOD® Pro Series Wood Cleaner.

You may think about pressure washing, but this method won’t clean as thoroughly and the pressure needed to remove dirt and stains will damage the wood. This damage has the potential to negatively impact adhesion of a stain. It’s better to go with a quality cleaner meant for the job, with a gentle scrub for stubborn stains.

Set expectations


Pros should try to understand customer expectations and preferences. Before beginning a project, ask how much grain they want to see and assess the condition of their wood before recommending a clear, toned, semi-transparent, or opaque finish.  Also, determine if the customer is looking for a lower-maintenance solution, as some finishes require periodic maintenance and refreshing. 

If you’re doing the job yourself, ask all of the same questions.

Choose quality products


Make a list of the products you’ll need before you shop, and make sure to include cleaner. FLOOD Pro Series Wood Cleaner is a great choice for cleaning that can cut down on prep time and will yield a better final color result. Take a look at some of its benefits:

  • Ready-to-use, no mixing, works in 10-15 minutes
  • Removes 4x more dirt than hose water alone
  • Achieves final color 60% truer to new than not cleaning
  • Cleans the average deck (400 sf) in less than half the time it takes to power-wash clean

When it comes to choosing a stain, FLOOD provides a range of product options: clear, toners (subtle color), semi-transparent/semi-solid (rich color that hides imperfections) and fully opaque solid color (hides grain, shows texture). The entire FLOOD Pro Series line of stain finishes has been precisely formulated to protect wood from moisture and sun damage while adding rich, beautiful color.

WARNING! If you scrape, sand, or remove old paint, you may release lead dust or fumes. LEAD IS TOXIC. EXPOSURE TO LEAD DUST OR FUMES CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ILLNESS, SUCH AS BRAIN DAMAGE, ESPECIALLY IN CHILDREN. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD ALSO AVOID EXPOSURE. Wear a properly fitted NIOSH-approved respirator and prevent skin contact to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself and your family by contacting USEPA National Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log on to Follow these instructions to control exposure to other hazardous substances that may be released during surface preparation.