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  • Devon Kmet

How to stain a deck

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

Staining your deck is an essential part of proper maintenance and protection that your deck needs. Our decks face all kinds of elements such as wind, rain, snow, hail and sun. These all can cause wear and tear on your deck. Staining will keep your deck looking beautiful for years to come.



Step by step guide to staining your deck


These are the four steps to properly staining your wooden deck;


  • Step 1. Inspect the deck. - You will need to look over your deck for any broken or warped pieces of wood. You will want to repair or replace these pieces of wood before going to the next step. You will also want to look for any nails or screws that may have come up and replace those as well. If you have old stain on your deck you may want to sand the deck to remove it so the new color comes through properly.


  • Step 2. Clean the deck. - The most important step in the process is to ensure proper cleaning. First you will want to sweep your deck or blow it off with a leaf blower to remove all dirt and debris. Next, you will want to use a cleaner that is specifically designed to clean algae, dirt, mildew and moss from your decks surface. Also look for a cleaner and brightener in one. Check out this link from Bob Vila on the best deck cleaners to use. Apply the product as described. You will want to use a mop with hard bristles to apply the cleaner. Wash off the deck thoroughly with a hose or pressure washer with low pressure. DO NOT use a pressure washer at medium or high pressure as this can damage the wood. Allow your deck to completely dry before the next step.


  • Step 3. - Stain the deck. Here are the best stains to use in each type of weather condition. Block off any areas you do not want to stain with painters tape such as exterior walls that may meet your deck. You will want to start with the deck first then the sides/rails and last the stairs. You will want to use a roller or paint pad on a long handle to apply even stain. Roll evenly forward and back to ensure the stain soaks into the deck. Do not use excess amounts of stain, if you find that too much has been applied, use a paint brush to fix the imperfection before it has a chance to dry. Check out our tip below for how to stain the railing and sides while protecting the deck.


  • Step 4. - Let it dry. It will take 24-48 hours (This may vary depending on the wood and weather) to completely dry. You will want to stay off the deck during this time to allow it to soak in and stain the wood properly. Once it is completely dry it is time to enjoy it!



Maintain the stain on your deck


Now that you have the steps to stain your deck, you will want to maintain that gorgeous finish as long as possible. That is easy to do with a few easy tips;


  • Sweep your deck off weekly and rinse your deck once a month to keep dirt and debris from sticking to the wood and tarnishing the stain.


  • Inspect your deck at the end and beginning of every season for rot, broken boards or boards that need to be replaced or repaired.


  • If your stain starts to lose its color, use a small amount of wood brightener and a light coat of stain to bring it back to its beautiful finish.


  • Every 2-3 years you will need to re-stain your deck. Follow our step by step guide to achieve the best results. You may choose at this time to change the color stain you use or just use a clear coat. However, if you have a dark stain currently on your deck and want to go lighter, you will need to remove the old stain first. This applies to new and old decks alike.



Helpful tips about staining your deck


We have a few helpful tips that will help make you look like a pro when it comes to staining your deck;


  • The best time to stain your deck is 50-90 degrees and in in-direct sunlight whenever possible. You will also want to ensure there is no rain in the forecast for the next 5-7 days to allow for proper dry time.


  • Water-based stains are superior to oil-based. The water-based stains will clean easier with a little soap and water, is better for the environment, dries quicker than oil based and is more weather resistant.


  • Use a semi-transparent wood stain or clear stain. This allows the wood to breathe better and lets the natural color of the wood shine.


  • Keep a paint brush on hand. Yes a roller will save your back and allow for an even coat of paint to be applied, but the bristles of the paint brush will allow the stain to get into each pore of the wood for a deeper and richer color. While the stain is still wet, back brush the stain with a paint brush to achieve the best penetration.


  • After you stain the deck and move on to the railing, make sure you place a piece of cardboard on the deck so you don’t drip any stain on it. You can make cut-outs for the railings and tape it down to the deck so it won’t move. Also if you have stairs that your roller cannot get to, use a 1” paint brush to apply stain.


Hiring a handyman to stain your deck


Staining a deck can be a large task for anyone to take on. Hiring a professional handyman can give you peace of mind knowing the job was done right and will look beautiful. Give us a call to schedule your deck maintenance today.

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