How to Apply Extreme Wood Stain

DEFY Extreme Wood Stain is an easy-to-use, water-based deck stain that can be used on decks, siding, fences, or any other type of exterior wood surface. DEFY Extreme Stain can be applied to pressure-treated lumber, vertical cedar, or pine. To stain your wood surface using DEFY Extreme Stain, follow these three simple steps.

1. Clean or strip the wood.

Even if you have new wood, it’s important to clean the surface with a wood cleaner. When new wood is is cut, it has something called “mill scale” on it, which is a crushing of the grain of the wood. DEFY Wood Cleaner will remove the mill scale and open the grain of the wood to receive the maximum amount of stain. If your wood is extremely weathered or has turned gray, DEFY Wood Cleaner will clean it and remove any graying. For wood that has previously applied stains that are still intact, use DEFY Stain Stripper to completely remove the old stain.

2. Brighten the wood

Regardless of whether you clean or strip the wood, next you’ll need to use a brightener to neutralize the surface of the wood. Brightening can be done immediately following the cleaner or stripper. No wait time is needed. DEFY Wood Brightener is used after the cleaner or stain stripper to neutralize and brighten the surface of the wood. Using the cleaner or stain stripper on the wood causes the surface to become extremely alkaline. This is bad for staining as it can cause premature stain failure. By using a brightener, you’ll bring the pH level of the wood back to neutral quickly, and get the maximum lifespan from the stain applied in the next step.

3. Stain the wood

Allow the wood to dry for 12-24 hours before staining. If you’re staining a deck, start with the railings and spindles first. Cover the flat parts of the deck with cardboard or drop cloths to prevent any drips. Apply two coats with a synthetic bristle paint brush.Next apply the stain to the horizontal boards. It’s usually a good idea to use a paint brush to trim the first board or two against the house. After that, the quickest way to stain your deck is to use a car wash brush. You can purchase one in the auto cleaning section of most home improvement stores. Pour the stain into a five-gallon bucket (if you purchased in single gallon cans), ad dip the brush in the bucket, and apply the stain to the deck boards. Watch this short video below to see an example.

Allow the wood to dry for 24 hours before walking on the surface or moving your patio furniture back on the deck. In extremely humid conditions, the stain could take longer than 24 hours to dry properly.

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  1. Tekla says:

    If I want to reapply in a year(I live in Hawaii) Will I have to strip this product? Or can I clean and brush on? I want a product that penetrates wood, not coats it, otherwise I would use paint.

    • defyadmin says:

      Tekla, for maintenance, simply clean and reapply a single maintenance coat. Stripping is not necessary. Our products are penetrating stains. They’re designed to soak into the wood rather than lay on the surface.

  2. Rick says:

    Going to apply Defy extreme deck stain to douglas fir and cedar boards before reconstruction of my deck. The wood is raw construction grade. 1) do I have to clean it before staining? 2) what’s the best method in applying the the stain to the boards?

    • defyadmin says:

      Rick, yes you should clean and brighten it first before applying the stain. Using DEFY Wood Cleaner and Wood Brightener will remove any mill scale, open up the pores of the wood and ensure an even application of the stain. The best way to apply it is to use this brush.

      • Amanda says:

        Hello, we are looking to apply the defy extreme semi-transparent stain to our deck and have a few questions. We are going to use the defy cleaner and brightener as instructed. Do these steps (cleaning, brightening, and staining) seal the would as well or do we need to do something else to seal it? We are finishing up sanding the whole thing. Also, can we apply the stain with pads or do we have to use the brush (like the car brush)? Just want to make sure we don’t mess it up!

        • defyadmin says:

          Amanda, yes, the wood stain will also seal the wood, no need to use another sealer. You can apply it with staining pads or a car wash brush, it’s up to you. We like the car wash brush as it holds more stain and the project seems to go a little quicker, but a staining pad would also work.

      • Sam says:

        Staining an older pressure treated deck, wondering how far the stain goes, ideally how much sq ft a gallon will cover. Also do you have stain in Semi-solid?

        • defyadmin says:

          Sam, the stain covers 100-150 sq. ft. per gallon (assuming 2 coats). We do not have a semi-solid, only semi-transparent, and solid.

  3. James Gira says:

    We power washed our 5 year old 500 sq’ wolmanized deck and then sanded it with a power dry wall sander. We applied Defy Extreme light walnut stain to the prepared deck and couldn’t be happier!
    Our deck looks like new and the compliments we receive are beyond imagination. We have never used a stain easier to apply and the results are wonderful.

  4. Kurt Neidhardt says:

    I have a vertical smooth cedar house. why is the defy extreme better than the hardwood deck stain for this ?

    I have been doing first coat with Extreme and second coat ( couple days later) with the hardwood stain to bring out more color?is this bad?

    Most importantly if I just use the extreme stain and then want to reapply two years later how do I clean it without stripping the stain off.?Your cleaner takes off the old finish.

    • Mike Nomura says:

      I would like to know the answers to Mr. Neidhardts second question. I too would like to intermix the Extreme over the Hardwood stain for a maintenance coat. Can this be done in this matter? or would I need to strip off the Hardwood Stain before applying the Extreme Stain? Would it be possible to apply different colors(cedar over natural pine)? Thanks I apologize if these questions are too ridiculous, although i’m totally new at this.

  5. Joyce says:

    I will be staining a wood wall approx 4 feet tall, so the grain is vertical not horizontal like a fence. What is the best way for me to put on the stain and what tools should I use.

  6. Dwight says:

    Two coats in 20 minutes???
    In one area of your website it says to allow no longer than 20 minutes between coats.
    How am I supposed to walk on the deck after the 1st coat to apply the 2nd???

  7. Julie Lewis says:

    We are using the Extreme Wood Stain to stain fir posts and rafters on our house. The wood will be sandblasted first to give it a rough-sawn appearance. What kind of prep do you recommend?

    Because it is such a large and complex area, we are planning on using a sprayer for the application. Is there anything else we need to be aware of?

    • customerservice says:


      After you sandblast, use the cleaner and the brightener before staining the rafters. This will help open up the pores of the wood and will allow the stain to soak in.


  8. Melody Owens says:

    What will be the best solution for a 2 year old porch that is in full sun all day long. We have recently pressure washed it with just water and now it needs a tune up. I want a coated look that will bring it to life and be little maintenance that will last for a while without peeling or sticky feeling. What product is recommended.

  9. Tom says:

    I intend to apply Extreme wood stain today, but it may rain tonight. Will the stain be damaged? The weather today will be cloudy, high 80ies and humid.

    • defyadmin says:

      Tom, typically our stain dries within an hour or so. We usually recommend a few hours of dry time before rain, but high humidity could cause dry time to be longer.


    Do you also recommend applying your solid stain with a car wash brush?

    • defyadmin says:

      A roller may be your best bet as it will give it a smooth, even finish, but you could use a car wash brush too. This product also works well with an airless sprayer.

      • Doug says:

        I plan on using your cleaner, stripper and solid color wood stain on our old and weathered deck. Can I use the car wash brush method to apply your solid color stain?

        • defyadmin says:

          You could use the car wash brush, but for the solid stain, either an airless paint sprayer, or a brush and roller would work better. The solid stain is the consistency of paint, and that may be a little harder to manage with a car wash brush, although it is possible.

  11. Kathleen Kidder says:

    We have a log home in Vermont and have used Defy Epoxy Wood Stain in a light walnut. It has held up well, but now it is time to stain again. I cannot find the same stain I used in the past. What will work over what I have without stripping? I also have one side with slight discoloration. Can I use the wood cleaner or brightener without fully stripping the epoxy stain we used a few years ago and then restain. Thank you for your assistance.

    • defyadmin says:

      Kathleen, the DEFY Epoxy stain that you used in the past has since been improved and renamed as DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain. This is the same formula but with the added benefit of zinc that makes it more resistant to UV rays and mold/mildew stains. You should be fine to brighten the wood with DEFY Wood Brightener and then put a maintenance coat of Extreme Wood Stain. The light walnut color in the Extreme is the same as the Epoxy stain you previously used.

  12. Elizabeth Z Russell says:

    I just finished applying 2 coats of defy walnut stain to deck. This was a 3 month 2019 Summer of save the deck project. It is a very large deck that required 8 gallons for a double coat. I replaced wood and handrails that were on their last leg, sanded and sanded and sanded. The deck turned out beautiful and all the extra time consuming prep was the answer as applying a great seal to a poor product will not last. I have cleaned my 2 year old 800 ft fence (200 ft per side) and am ready to Graco airless spray. Being October the temperatures are dropping here in Ohio. The high temps are in the right range for spraying but the night lows will be in the 30s-40s. Is it ok to apply Defy as long as I apply when in temp range as it does dry fairly quickly. As a side note , I am a 60 year old woman, so if I can do it anyone can with patience.

    • defyadmin says:

      Elizabeth, glad to hear your project turned out great. You can apply DEFY stain as long as the temperature is above 45 F and rising. You’ll want it to stay above that temperature for at least several hours after your done staining so it can dry in time before the temperatures drop back down.

  13. Sue Cadamagnani says:

    We are planning to apply Defy Extreme solid stain on our 30 year old cedar siding that has water-based stain on it. There is no peeling. Our only problem is some mold that comes right off with slight power wash using oxygen bleach and a clear rinse every few years. We also do this before re-staining every 7 years or so. Is that enough preparation before applying your solid stain?

    • defyadmin says:

      Sue, that should be fine. Just make sure there’s no mold present when you’re staining. Also make sure to rinse the cleaner off thoroughly.

  14. Janet Henk says:

    This is the third spring for our cedar deck. We have been so happy with the Defy products, including the clear sealer coat. The deck wood looks brand new. Yesterday, I hosed it off after the winter and some of the clear sealer coat is peeling off.
    1. Did I apply too much clear sealer last year?
    2. Can I just go through the cleaner and brightener steps and, assuming the peeling sealer comes off, just apply one clear sealer coat?

    • defyadmin says:

      Janet, usually peeling happens because either too much was applied, or the stain wasn’t able to penetrate into the wood pores in the first place. You should be able to clean/brighten again, and then apply the clear product again. As a reminder, only apply as much stain as the wood can absorb. If it looks shiny when dry, that’s an indication that it was overapplied. When you’re applying it, put on 2 wet on wet coats, waiting no more than 10-20 minutes between coats. You may want to consider using a car wash brush as this makes your job much easier and quicker. It helps the stain apply evenly, and it forces the stain into the pores of the wood, which will increase longevity.

  15. Jeff says:

    New decking (southern pine PT) installed in November. Some checking occurred in early March. Since the moisture read 9%. I applied deck cleaner and waited 2 days, then applied Sherwin Williams Superdeck semi-transparent water based stain. Result came out very splotchy . May have been my fault in over-applying (wet on wet) or perhaps the wood was still somewhat wet and did not penetrate. Have since stripped deck. Would like to try again using Defy transparent or pine/natural semi-transparent. Assuming after applying deck cleaning/brightener, would going with semi-transparent provide a more uniform result?


    • defyadmin says:

      Jeff, when you originally applied the deck cleaner, did you follow with the wood brightener? If not, that could be the issue. If the wood cleaner isn’t neutralized and completely rinsed off, it certainly can result in patchiness. The Wood Brightener was created for that reason, to neutralize the wood cleaner. Also, the issue could have been with SW stain. If you already stripped the wood, just use DEFY Wood Brightener. This will neutralize the surface and help the stain absorb better and more evenly. Yes, you should get uniform results with DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent stain as long as you properly prep the surface first.

  16. joe says:

    how long does extreme or extreme 40 SEMI TRANS last ? Deck yellow pine treated never done 3yrs old. Live in NE Ohio.

    • defyadmin says:

      Joe, the lifespan will vary based on a number of factors including how much direct sun it gets, amount of shade, wear and tear, etc… Typically you can expect to do maintenance coats every 2-3 years, but potentially more often for decks with southern exposures, or decks that are subjected to full sun all day.

  17. Kelly says:

    We are going to stain our deck with Defy Extreme Solid Stain. The current product on our deck is Olympic Elite Solid Stain (oil based). I know the Olympic Elite stain was oil based because I remember cleaning the brushes with mineral spirits. It is 3 or 4 years old. The high traffic, sun soaked, flat parts are peeling/worn/flaking. I am not sure why an oil based stain is “peeling” but when we applied it, I remember the paint/stain separating into an almost black color and then the tinted brown color even though we kept stirring and stirring it. When it was dry, it looked fine. I must say that the vertical spindles/posts still look fabulous and are barely worn. However, we would like to apply Defy to every part of the deck so that everything will be the same color. What steps would we need to take to make sure Defy adheres properly to the still, well coated, vertical surfaces, as well as, the worn, peeling horizontal surfaces? We live in the southern piedmont region of NC.

    • defyadmin says:

      Kelly, DEFY Extreme Solid will work just fine over top of the Olympic oil stain. Just use DEFY Wood Cleaner first and make sure to clean any mold or mildew off, then rinse it thoroughly. Allow it to dry out for a day, then you can stain it with DEFY Solid. It can be sprayed, brushed or rolled.

  18. Mark says:

    We have a cedar deck that has Armstrong-Clark oil stain on it. We had a lot of rain last year and now have a mold and mildew problem and Defy Extreme has come highly recommended. We are using oxygen bleach to clean, then pain to use Defy cleaner and brightner. Do we need to strip to bare wood or would it be OK to eliminate all mold and mildew then apply Defy?

    • defyadmin says:

      Mark, the safe bet would be to strip the Armstrong. If it’s been on there for awhile, the Wood Cleaner may remove the stain. You’ll probably be safe to just use the cleaner and brightener, but you may consider rinsing the cleaner off with a pressure washer. That will ensure you get the previous finish off.

  19. Brad says:

    will the defy semi transparent product cover the furring caused by the cleaning and power washing of 2 year old treated yellow pine deck. the deck has never been stained or sealed. we are planning to use brightener next or should we sand off the firing first?

    • defyadmin says:

      Brad, to get rid of the furring you’ll have to lightly sand the surface. After sanding you’ll want to sweep the deck off really well, or use a leaf blower to blow off all the dust from sanding. If you don’t do this, you may see darker areas in your deck where the sawdust remained and absorbed the stain more than other areas.

  20. Ben says:

    Hey there, first I’d like to say thanks for all the info yall have. I built a PTP deck last year. I live in ND about 30 minutes south of Canada. I have done my absolute best to follow all of the steps to have a beautiful deck. I let the deck weather for 9 months. To start prep, I pressure washed real good last week. Then this recent weekend I used the cleaner and then right after I used the brightener, it was a long day but it was worth it, both products worked great. I then let the deck dry for 2 days. I just stained with the semi transparent driftwood gray this evening. I was all about done with the deck, once again, following all the instructions such as staining all boards in one shot and doing a wet on wet 2nd coat. Unfortunately this is when my youngin decides to slice her arm open. I put my car brush down and off we went. I recently got back from the urgent care place (kid is fine) and finished up my last 40 sq ft or so. I’m terrified that tomorrow when the sun comes up that there will obvious lines where I had to stop. If so, what can I do to fix it? Please help and thanks for taking the time to read this!!

    • defyadmin says:

      Ben, about the only thing you can do is allow the deck to weather and apply a maintenance coat to even things out. Maybe re-evaluate it in the fall and if the deck is able to absorb any water, then you can apply a single maintenance coat that should help even the finish. Once the stain dries, you don’t want to apply additional coats as they won’t penetrate into the wood, and peeling could result.

      • Ben says:

        Alright, I was afraid that would be the answer. Upon inspection this morning, I noticed some fairly shiny darker spots, which I’m assuming means that I overcompensated with the stain in my panic to try and finish. It’s about 8 boards that have these lines or shiny areas. Is it possible to use cleaner or something and then just restain them now or do you think that I really just need to wait it out until fall? If it can absorb water in the fall then do I just apply a cleaner like simple green or something and rinse really well before letting it completely dry and applying the maintenance coat? Thanks again for all of your help.

      • Ben says:

        Alright, I was afraid that would be the answer. Upon inspection this morning, I noticed some fairly shiny darker spots, which I’m assuming means that I overcompensated with the stain in my panic to try and finish. It’s about 8 boards that have these lines or shiny areas. Is it possible to use a cleaner or something and then just restain them now or do you think that I really just need to wait it out until fall? If it can absorb water in the fall then do I just apply a cleaner like simple green or something and rinse really well before letting it completely dry and applying the maintenance coat? Thanks again for all of your help.

        One more thought, I was thinking the semi-transparent gray would have a little more color that it does. What would I need to do if I wanted to apply your solid color stain? Would the stain that I just put down yesterday need to be stripped, and then wood cleaner, and wood brightener all over?

  21. Walter Kompass says:

    How should I apply Defy Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain to my 5 year old pressurized deck ?I have already cleaned the deck and it is dry. Confused on what to use – roller, brush or pad. Yard is too windy for a sprayer. Thanks.

    • defyadmin says:

      Walter, we’ve had a lot of success using a soft bristle car wash brush to apply on the flat parts. A roller can be used, but it’s not easy as the stain is very water. It’s hard for rollers to hold enough stain to feel like you’re making much progress. Plus it’s not good at getting between the boards. Here’s the brush we normally use – For the vertical posts and railings you can just use a standard paint brush.

  22. John Keegan says:

    Dear Defy,
    I want to make sure I am doing this properly. I have applied Defy stain on my deck and now it needs to be redone. Do I strip it first or just use the brightener and then reapply the stain?

    • defyadmin says:

      John, you can use the Brightener to clean and brighten the wood, then apply a single maintenance coat of stain. No need to strip it first.

  23. Brad Hutsell says:

    I just built a new deck out of pressure treated wood, can I apply your semi transparent now or do I have to wait for it to weather

  24. Sam Likh says:

    We are going with Defy solid color stain after having a disastrous experience with Sherwin Williams semi-transparent stain last year. I just have a couple of questions as I prepare the deck for staining.

    I have flipped my 5-year old deck boards exposing the underneath which is not stained. How do you recommend I clean this side? Is brightener necessary or just the cleaner?

    I have a few brand new boards that I replaced. Do they need some type of cleaning? Will they take stain right away?

    There are a couple of boards that I could not flip and have semi-transparent stain on them that is not coming off. I am assuming stripping may not be necessary as I will go with solid color in same shade. That makes sense?

    Do I need to sand the boards and spindles?

    For solid color, do you recommend car wash brush? Also, are 2 coats necessary for solid?

    Can I use Painter’s mitt to apply stain to spindles for the job to go faster?

    Sorry too many questions as I want to do this right.

    Thank you so much in advance.

    • defyadmin says:

      Sam, if you’re going with the solid stain, then just make sure the wood is clean, and no dirt, grime or mildew is present. You can use our cleaner and brightener, or you can just use a pressure washer if that’s easier. You do not need to strip or sand anything, and the new boards are fine to go ahead and stain. For solid stain, I would use either an airless sprayer, or a brush and roller. A car wash brush is more suited for the semi-transparent stains. Usually 2 coats are necessary, but you’ll have to decide if that’s necessary based on how it looks while you’re applying it. A painter’s mitt should work as this product has a paint-like consistency.

  25. Dominic says:

    I did stain sections of railling with 2 coats of Defy Extreme. Railling where laying flat horizontally during drying. Once dry to touch I found few drips bubles on sections that were upside down. Could I re-sand those and stain 1 coat, or it need to be strip again?

    • defyadmin says:

      Dominic, you could do that, but it may be more noticeable as the areas you sand may not blend perfectly with the areas that you didn’t sand. It may be easier to allow the wood to weather for a few months, and then lightly sand those areas, and re-apply another coat to the whole rail. Waiting a few months will allow the wood to become more porous and accept another coat of stain.

  26. Brent says:

    We purchased our home a little over three years ago. We have a beautiful screened porch with tongue and groove hardwood flooring. The south and west sides of the porch are screened, so subject to water and sun. The south end especially is now in need of treatment, but we anticipate we can’t just treat the one area. We aren’t sure what product was used the last time the floor was refinished. We’d like to use a semi-transparent stain to enjoy the wood grain look and anticipate needing to use an “extreme” product to protect the floor and avoiding having to redo the floor too often. What product should we consider, how should we do it for the best result and how long should we expect it to last?

    • defyadmin says:

      If there’s another stain on the floor currently, your safest option is to strip it with DEFY Stain Stripper, then rinse with a pressure washer. Follow that with DEFY Wood Brightener to neutralize the surface, then rinse with a garden hose. That will bring the surface to an ideal condition so it’s ready to stain. The best product is DEFY Extreme Wood Stain. It comes in 6 semi-transparent colors. You can see a video here explaining the process – Lifespans can vary based on wood type, amount of exposure to sun, rain and snow, but an outdoor deck will average 2-3 years between coats. So you may see longer than that given that it’s a screened in porch that gets more protection from the elements.

  27. Ron R says:

    I’m not sure I bought enough of your semitransparent stain. It will be close. The deck is close to 750 sq ft. Would it be better to apply one coat now and then another next year or do what I can with 2 coats and get more material. It takes about a week to get the stain and I have everything prepped and ready to go.

    • defyadmin says:

      Ron, your best bet would be to apply 2 coats now, just make sure you have a clean break…don’t break in the middle of a board, otherwise you’ll see your stop and start marks. If you apply 1 coat now, it won’t last as long as it would if 2 coats are applied. Waiting a week or so to stain after prepping won’t hurt anything.

  28. rosie Goodman says:

    After sanding off the old stain, it is best to apply 2 coats on a deck that faces South in high altitude Colorado?
    Also, how much does one purchase for estimated 400sq. foot deck?
    Thank You,

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