Preparing to Finish

[tab:Step 1]

Choosing the right product for the job

You should always clean your wood before applying any finish. Preparing the surface will improve the appearance and durability of your wood.

Wood Iron Stain Remover and Maintenance Cleaner Kits are biodegradeable, highly concentrated powder concentrates. Only the active ingredients are in the containers. You add the water. This will save you money.

The methods for removing old finishes and maintenance cleaning are similar. The difference is in the choice of which Wood Iron wood cleaning products you should use.
[tab:Step 2] Wood Iron Maintenance Cleaner

Wood Iron Maintenance Cleaner kits open up new wood or slightly gray wood so a finish can anchor into it. The Maintenance Cleaner Kits are the most economical way to prep finished wood for another coat when the finish is not deteriorated. The Kit includes Maintenance Cleaner and Brightener.

Brightener must be applied after the surfaces are cleaned. This step will neutralize the pH of the cleaner, enhance the clarity of the wood grain, and assure a chemically stable surface for finishing.


[tab:Step 3] Wood Iron Stain Remover

If the finish on your wood is too dark, blotchy or peeling, you should remove it with the Wood Iron Stain Remover Kit before applying a finish. This kit will remove multiple layers of a failed stain. If used in stronger concentration or on surfaces that don’t have a finish, Stain Remover could cause damage to your wood.

You must use Wood Iron Brightener immediately after the Stain Remover. This will neutralize the pH of the wood and bring out the wood’s best possible appearance. Use both Stain Remover AND Brightener whenever you do restoration cleaning.


[tab:Step 4] Collect Materials

The equipment and tools you will need are:

  • Mixing bucket
  • Pump up sprayer
  • Pressure washer
  • Soft Bristle Broom
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Plastic for protecting surfaces not being cleaned
  • Masking Tape
  • 50 to 80 grit sand paper


[tab:Step 5] Pressure Washer

It is important to have a pressure washer. They are available at many equipment rental locations. If you are maintenance cleaning it is not required but is very helpful. If you are removing layers of stain or finish it is a must.

Before operating a pressure washer make sure you have read all of the instructions, and have practiced using the pressure washer on some scrap wood. Pressure washing can cause damage to the wood and to yourself when used incorrectly.

Always test an area to make sure the pressure is NOT damaging the wood first.


[tab: Step 6] Mixing

Be sure to wear gloves and eye protection when mixing and applying Wood Iron Stain Remover, Maintenance Cleaner or Brightener.

Pour the container of Stain Remover or Maintenance Cleaner in the empty bucket. Add cool water according to the directions on the label. Stir to make sure all the concentrated powder is dissolved. Test the cleaning strength by applying a small amount on a small test area first.


[tab: Step 7] Masking and Protection

Mask doors, windows, and other surfaces not being cleaned with plastic or drop clothes. Pre-wet all nearby vegetation with water. Do not allow Stain Remover, Maintenance Cleaner or Brightener to dry on glass surfaces as they may become etched.




[tab:Step 8] Applying

Carefully pour the mixture into a pump up sprayer. Don’t over fill the container.

Apply the mixture liberally to the railing first and then the deck floor.

Wood Iron stain remover will darken tannin rich woods such as cedar or redwood. The Brightener will reverse the darkening caused by the stain remover. Don’t panic if the wood is dark when you apply the stain remover.

[tab:Step 9] Mist and Broom

Broom the wet surfaces with a soft bristle brush. Be very careful. Soapy deck floors are slick. Take your time to prevent slipping or falling. Let Wood Iron Stain Remover do the work.

Keep the entire deck damp by misting with the pressure washer or a garden hose. It is important to keep the wood surfaces damp at all times during this stage of cleaning.


[tab:Step 10] Pressure Wash

Once the stain, gray wood or dirt is loosened you can start pressure washing. Start with the rails first. Then wash the floor. Wash with long, even strokes. Don’t stop in the middle of a stroke.

Stay approximately 8 to 12 inches away from the wood when removing old stains. For maintenance cleaning don’t get closer that 12 to 14 inches. Check to make sure you are not damaging the wood.

Make a double pass over each board. You will see the old stain, gray wood and dirt coming off as you go. The wood may be slightly dark due to the cleaner. Don’t worry. The Brightener will bring the right color back.

Rinse completely after powerwashing. Rinsing is important to remove any wood pulp and stain residue.


[tab: Step 11] Brightening

Brightening is an important step. Redwood and Cedar will darken due to the use of the Stain Remover. The Brightener will lighten the wood back up.

Wood Iron Brightener will neutralize the Cleaner or Stain Remover and will help create an optimum surface for finishing.

Wood Iron Brightener is mixed in the same proportions as you mixed the Wood Iron Stain Remover or Maintenance Cleaner. For example: if you mixed 1 container of Stain Remover in 5 gallons of water then you will want to mix 1 container of Brightener in 5 gallons of water also.

Apply Wood Iron Brightener to damp wood with your pump up sprayer. Never apply the Brightener to dry wood. Apply the Brightener to the railings first and then the deck floor. Allow the Brightener to sit on the surface for 15 – 30 minutes. Mist as necessary. Rinse completely. Rinsing removes excess Brightener and any wood pulp that might be left behind.

If fungus, mold and algae are a problem in your area, mix two ounces of Milgo QGC to one gallon of water and apply to cleaned and brightened surfaces at a rate of 300 square feet per gallon. Allow to dry completely. Do not rinse. It is ready to finish.


[tab:Step12] Final Rinse

You did it!

Now your wood surface is clean and almost ready for finishing. Let it dry out completely before finishing. After it is dry check all of the surfaces for cleanliness. You will want to do a little sanding to remove loosened wood fibers. Sweep off the dust and apply the finish.




Wood Iron Wood Finishes, Inc.    10475 Irma Drive, Unit 7     Northglenn, CO 80233     Phone: (303) 650-1681     Fax: (303) 428-3004

Serving Satisfied Customers Across the United States Since 1980.    Proudly Made in Colorado, USA.