DIY Section

Cabot gives you all the information you need for a professional quality job.

How to Remove Surface Contaminants before Staining

Think of your wood siding, fencing, deck and outdoor furniture. They all bravely face the elements, temperature changes and physical contact on a daily basis. It's no wonder, then, that their surfaces can become cracked, blistered and contaminated over time by things like mildew, soot and rust.

Since surface contaminants can impact the quality of the finish of the wood, you'll want to remove them before you begin staining. After all, you always wash your car before waxing it, right? The information below will help make it easier for you to identify and remove a wide range of common contaminants.


Here's what you'll need

  • Clean cloth
  • Rubber gloves and personal protective gear
  • Cabot® Wood Brightener
  • Cabot® Wood Cleaner
  • Scrub brush
  • Power Washer


DIY:Remove Mildew before Staining Mildew Mildew, dirt, soot and other pollutants often appear as black dots or specks on the surface. So how do you know if it's mildew? Just apply a small amount of fresh household bleach to the black areas. If the dark discoloration lightens quickly, it's mildew (the other pollutants will not change color). Use Cabot Problem Solver Wood Cleaner to remove mildew stains, dirt, soot or ash before you stain.

DIY:Remove Mildew before Chalkiness Fiberous Fibers become loose on your wood surface when the old layer of stain has begun to break down. Remove the fibers with Cabot Problem Solver Wood Cleaner before you apply a new coat of stain.

Tannin Bleed in redwood and cedar Tannin Bleed Tannin bleed (which can occur on redwood and cedar) is a reddish-brown discoloration that may make old stain applications appear blotchy or uneven. These blotches can mar the appearance of the new layer of stain you want to apply over it. Remove them first with Cabot Problem Solver Wood Brightener.

Nailhead Rusting Rusty nails can cause brownish streaks to appear in your stain. Remove them with Cabot Problem Solver Wood Brightener before you apply a new coat of stain, because they will show through.

Get ready to stain width Cabot Get ready to stain Once the wood is free of contaminants and the surface has been properly prepped, you're ready to begin staining. But before you dip your brush into the can of stain, take a few minutes to read our articles on staining. They'll help you get pro-like results you can be proud of.

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