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How to Remove Sealer From a Deck

Sue-Lynn Carty

The wood sealer on a deck protects the wood from damaging sunlight and the elements. Over time, the wood sealer on any deck begins to peel up, leaving the wood underneath exposed and susceptible to damage. The only way to fix this issue and get your deck looking like new is to remove the sealer and refinish the surface. Many wood sealer stripper products on the market are easy to use and work on both latex and oil based sealants.

Refinish a wood deck by first removing old sealant.
  1. Protect landscaping. Wood sealer stripper is caustic and can damage delicate foliage. Drape tarps over the landscaping around your deck to protect your plants and flowers.

  2. Put on safety gear. If your skin comes in contact with the wood sealer stripper, it will burn. Protect your eyes with safety goggles and your arms and hands with protective gloves.

  3. Apply wood sealer stripper. Using a polyester bristle paintbrush, apply the wood sealer stripper in the direction of the grain of the wood. Allow the stripper to sit according to the manufacturer's instructions.

  4. Clean the stripper. With a nylon or polyester bristle brush, remove the stripper by scrubbing the deck. Scrub in the direction of the wood grain.

  5. Rinse off the deck. Once you complete scrubbing the entire deck with the wood sealer stripper, rinse it off with a garden hose with a spray nozzle attachment. If you have a pressure washer, you may use that as well.

  6. Neutralize the wood stripper acids. Before the deck can take new stain and sealant, you must neutralize the acids left behind by the wood sealant stripper. Check the label on the wood sealant stripper as to which specific neutralizing product you should use.

  7. Apply neutralizer. The application process for neutralizers is different depending on the manufacturer. Apply the neutralizer according to the manufacturer's instructions of the specific type of neutralizer you purchased.