Home> How To Stain A Deck




how to stain a deckMany homeowners struggle with all of the different stain brands and how to stain their deck properly. Main concerns are an uneven appearance and not having enough time to finish the project. Applying an exterior wood stain actually can be an easy and fast process when you utilize the proper steps.

Please take the time to read these tips:

  1. Choose a stain that is correct for your deck. There is not a "best" stain for all scenarios. Certain stains though will work better based on your climate, exposure to UV radiation, and type of wood. Please visit Exterior Wood Stains. On this page you will find a product filter that is very useful in finding the best stain or sealer for your wood. If you still have difficulty choosing please ask us for some help: Exterior Staining Questions
  2. Once you have chosen your stain it is important that the deck is properly prepped. Prepping the wood is the most important aspect in the entire process. This will ensure that your stain can properly adhere and penetrate into the wood. Improper preparation typically leads to premature stain failure. The cleaning, brightening and or stain stripping should be done at least 48 hours prior to applying the stain.
  3. On the day of staining make sure there is no rain in the forecast for at least 12-24 hours. Remove all furniture from deck and surrounding areas. Cover with plastic tarps all shrubs and flowers. Careful to not suffocate the plants. If there are any concrete patios nearby, it would be best to cover them as well.
  4. We suggest the use of stain pad applicators and or a pump type sprayer. The stain pads allow you to "push" the stain into the wood while at the same time applying evenly. Sprayers are optional as they will speed up the process but can create accidental over spray.
  5. Always start with the railings if applicable. Using the stain pad, apply the stain from the top down. Do in sections of about 4-6 feet before moving on. It is important to wipe any excessive stain that accumulates on the flooring. If using a sprayer, make sure that watch any over spray onto the house or plants. Look over the area for drips and missed spots prior to moving on. Tip: Fill a small hand held sprayer bottle with some stain. This will help you reach small areas where the pad cannot reach.
  6. After all the railings are done double check for any missed spots or drips. Best to touch these up before the stain dries.
  7. Applying the stain to the flooring is the easiest step. Make sure that you apply with the grain of the wood and always do the entire board end to end before moving on. Tip: Use the Deck Mop to make the step extremely fast.
  8. Many stains are considered two coats or "wet on wet". This means that you apply the second coat while the first coat is still wet or not completely dry. It is always best to thoroughly read and follow the manufacturer's directions on this. Tip: It is not always needed to apply two coats to the verticals/railings. The stain will last longer on these areas since they are less exposed to the elements.
  9. When done with the staining make sure to remove all plastic tarps off the plants. If you used an oil based stain, do not leave any oily rags inside the garage or home. Let the stain dry for at least 24 hours before putting any furniture on the wood.

If you have any questions on how to stain a deck please ask below. All questions are typically answered within a day.

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Use a deck stain pad for the spindles.
TheSealerStore , June 01, 2016
Spindles, spindles, spindles!
I have 2 decks, upper and lower and both are L shaped. In all there are 280 lathed spindles. The bottom of the upper deck is 8' above the lower and all spindles on the upper are done from an extension ladder. I'm looking for suggestions on applicators that would work best. Thanks!
Kelly Fisher , June 01, 2016
re: Help! Slippery
Use a stain stripper and pressure wash off. You may need to strip a few times to get it all off.
TheSealerStore , April 21, 2015
Help! Slippery
I applied Thompson water sealer with a pump sprayer on my large decks. Obviously applying way to much... Now it won't dry and is very very slippery. What do I do?
Brad , April 21, 2015
re: Using a sprayer
The Chapin Heavy Duty is the 1949.
TheSealerStore , August 10, 2014
Using a sprayer
You noted that the chapin 1949 sprayer would be good to use with the TWP 100 series. Which is the 1949 model on your website- the chapin clean and stain sprayer or the chapin heavy duty sprayer. Also is it better to use a staining pad to apply the stain rather than spraying? Thanks for your help.
Dany , August 09, 2014
re: Homeowner
Nina, wait 2-3 monhts to season, prep first with Restore A Deck Kits, stain with the Armstrong Clark.
TheSealerStore , July 31, 2014
New pressure treated wood deck with #1 grade boards being built in August, 2014, in N.E. Indiana. Sections of the deck will be in full sun, some in part sun and some always in light shade. When will be the best time to stain and which product do you recommend? Thank you.
Nina , July 30, 2014
re: Using sprayer
Try the Chapin 1949 sprayer that we sell. Mix well before adding to sprayer and it will be fine for an hour or longer. You could always shake the sprayer to remix once in awhile.
TheSealerStore , July 30, 2014
Using sprayer
What's the best way to keep TWP series 100 stain well mixed when using a sprayer- the pigment tends to settle out of solution. Also what type of sprayer is best? I've had trouble with nozzle clogging using a garden sprayer with an oil based stain in the past. Thanks for the help.
Dany , July 30, 2014
re: stain the underside?
No need to stain the underside.
TheSealerStore , June 24, 2014
stain the underside?
Should I stain the underside of a deck that is on the 2nd floor of a home? It is 50 x 9 feet and runs the entire length of the house. It is about 6 feet off the ground, over a concrete slab.
Janis , June 23, 2014
If the wood was dry then it is probably okay and does not need to be done again. High humidity and wind does not matter.

As for walking on the stain, it depends on the brand but most brands do not suggest it.
TheSealerStore , January 24, 2014
I had a crew stain my wooden decks last April. Here in Detroit there were strong storms all day. I'm sure just from the humidity there will be problems. The deck was sheltered from the actual rain. Am I thinking correctly or should I plan on doing it again. There were also 50 mph gusts of wind.

On another matter, my neighbor told me I could walk on the stain after putting it down without leaving foot prints. I applied it heavily and took a couple of steps in it and he was right there were no prints left. Is this normal? thanks
Mike Danaher , January 23, 2014
I would back wipe the entire deck with some mineral spirits to remove the excess stain right away. Make sure to saturate the rags with water when done to avoid spontaneous combustion.
TheSealerStore , January 16, 2014
I recently stained my hard wood deck and think I made some mistakes. I stained the wood Thursday afternoon and came out my door thinking it would be dry by the next day. As it turns out there many puddles of stain remaining. I slipped on one of them and went flying. I tried to show my landlord where it occurred but couldn't find marks showing exactly where it happened. There also were no foot prints to look at. Is this normal for an over stained job? thanks... Mike
Mike Danaher , January 16, 2014
Tara, try some paint thinner on the rags first then wipe down to remove the excess stain. Make sure to saturate the rags with water when done to avoid spontaneous combustion.
TheSealerStore , October 05, 2013
Armstrong/Clark hardwood stain
I recently purchased and applied the Armstrong/clark hardwood stain on ipe. After 1 week the deck is still wet (it's actuall the floor of a 3 season room. I've wiped the decking with a dry rag many times and each time my rag comes up with stain on it. How do I remove the leftover oils such that the decking is safe to walk on without staining cloths and/or feet.

Tara Cole , October 04, 2013
re: Staining the wood before assembling deck
The guy at Kelly Moore is correct and your friend is not.
TheSealerStore , August 27, 2013
Staining the wood before assembling deck
I recently had a deck replaced. The guy at Kelly suggested I let the deck weather before staining it, and this is the advice given here, so that's good to know.

I have a friend who insists that we goofed and should have stained the boards before assembled so it can be coated all the way around the boards. It makes some sense, particularly because I live up in Truckee, CA at elevation ~6500 so I do get a fair amount of snow.

Do you have a comment on this? Thanks so much!

Audrey Zmuda , August 27, 2013
re: Sand and re-seal?
It is very difficult to spot sand but you could try one knot to see if it works otherwise you will need to strip and sand the entire deck. Clean and brighten when done then apply the Extreme Clear.
TheSealerStore , May 22, 2013
Sand and re-seal?
I have a cedar deck, unfinished, and weathered for 7 months.
I cleaner and brighten the wood.
Allowed to dry for 48 hours.
Prior to applying Defy Extreme Crystal Clear i noticed some minimal hazy wood fibres around the knots of the wood ... looked like remnant mildew perhaps?
I debated whether or not to sand it off.... i chose not to...sadly
I applied the Defy Clear as recommended during shade warm temperature 20 degree Celsius, although after complete dry time the finish looks dull and the knots remain with slight grey hazy patches around knots
The Defy Clear has dried well, its not shiny and absorbed well, water beads off nicely when wet; yet the Cedar feels hard to touch...just curious is this normal?

I wish to remove the “grey” patchy spots – in order to have a complete uniform look and natural color.
What should i do?
Do i sand down the patchy spots? or sand all the deck boards? what grit?
if i do sand, should i clean and brighten again?
Fil , May 21, 2013
re: New Deck (Sealer or Stain)
Now that you sanded you should use a cleaner and brightener to finish the prep. Deck Stains are sealers as well. I would look at the Armstrong Clark decking stain.
TheSealerStore , May 03, 2013
New Deck (Sealer or Stain)
Dear Sir--

I got a new PT wood deck at my Maryland home in January. I read on the Internet to let the wood dry thoroughly at least 3 months prior to staining, but after just 4 months the deck had issues with "raised grain" as I guess it does not take as long for 5/4" boards to dry and the sun took a toll on it. Anyway, the contractor came back today and power sanded the boards which I'm not sure was a good idea for new wood (from what I've read) and he should have probably used sandpaper to take care of the raised grain. With all this in mind, would you suggest I put a sealer on it or a stain. The contractor told me sealers are better than stains. And how long should I wait now that it's been power sanded? This deck is really stressing me out.
Sharon Cook , May 03, 2013
re: 2 coats or 1?
You did a few things wrong:

1. New wood should dry and weather for a few months before staining.
2. All new wood should be prepped with a deck cleaner and brightener to open the pores and remove mill glaze.
3. You over applied the stain.

You will need to remove the stain and start over to fix this.
TheSealerStore , November 15, 2012
2 coats or 1?
We just put up a redwood deck and used the B grade of lumber. We then applied a coat of super deck 1910 Natural stain. about 30 hours later I applied a second coat. It has been 3 days now and it is still slightly tacky. We cannot put furniture on it yet.

What did I do wrong? Thanks for your help.
Carol & Nils , November 14, 2012
re: Armstrong clark
No deck stain will protect from dog urine.
TheSealerStore , October 11, 2012
Armstrong clark
I have decided on the Armstrong-Clark Sierra Redwood semi transparent. I have a large redwood deck in Albuquerque, NM that is in partial shade. We have 2 small dogs that "relieve" themselves on the deck. Will the stain protect the redwood against discoloration? I have used Penofin Blue in the past and it wore off within 6 months and the spots where the dogs went turned black.
rs3davidson , October 10, 2012
Thanks for the info. One step that we did take when we applied the second coat is that we let it sit for about an hour or two and then wiped off any excess. Hopefully that helped control the amount of excess stain that didn't absorb in. I suppose that second coat didn't absorb, rather it just dried on top of the first coat. It looks beautiful, but is still slick. I suppose we'll see how the weather treats it as we are in rainy season now and soon winter.
Brob , October 02, 2012
re: Slippery deck!
TWP should not be applied to new wood until 4-12 months after install. Only one coat is needed for new wood. In addition TWP is a penetrating stain that does not leave a shine unless over applied. This shine is an issue as it is extremely over applied. This will most likely result in premature product failure or peeling. Unfortunately there is not much you can do until it is time to redo in the future. You will need to strip it all down and start over.
TheSealerStore , October 02, 2012
re: Cold nights affect stain?
It will be okay if it drops below 50 degrees a few hours later but you do not want it to drop below 32 degrees.
TheSealerStore , October 02, 2012
Cold nights affect stain?
If the stain says apply between 50 and 90 degrees, and dries within 3 hours, if it drops below 50 degrees 3 hours AFTER application (so after drying time) and then freezes that night, will that affect the stain? I can't find this answer anywhere.
Hermanson , October 01, 2012
Slippery deck!
I used TWP 1500 series to stain my new PT deck made with kiln dried wood. After it was built, I waited a month, pressure washed it, then used a wood cleaner, wood brightener, and then sanded it. We then applied the TWP 1500 stain. After one coat it was absorbed in nicely (it was very thirsty) but looked dull/faded so we applied a second coat about a week later. Now it has a beautiful shine. The stain is dried, but the deck is slippery now. Is there anything I can do to help reduce the slippery finish?
Brob , October 01, 2012
Basically the same but application instructions may vary depending on the brand you are using.
TheSealerStore , September 08, 2012
Are the INSTRUCTIONS for Sealer -- the same as STAIN? POWER SPRAYER -- do you have any advice as to their use for SEALER?
Peter , September 07, 2012
re: My 1000 sq ft deck is 17 yrs old and has been refinished twice
I would look at TWP 1500 or Armstrong Clark.
TheSealerStore , August 24, 2012
My 1000 sq ft deck is 17 yrs old and has been refinished twice. Once with CWF and last time with BEHR transparent (both oil based). I have replaced some boards on the deck and all the top rails. Some of the boards are very weathered. I have pressure washed it entirely. Trying to decide what stain to use. I am a 77 yr old female and plan to do it myself. Hopefully something that will enhance the appearance and last a long time.
Jean Hammock , August 24, 2012
re: re-staining
It depends on the brand of stain. It may need to be stripped off.
TheSealerStore , July 04, 2012
The contractor I hired did a poor job staining. Can I use a cleaner and re-apply the stain? My deck is pressure treated wood and 4 months old.
michael vonitter , July 04, 2012
re: patio deck staining
TWP is a penetrating stain. If it is slippery then it did not penetrate properly into the wood. This is usually from not prepping the wood properly, over application, or combination of both.
TheSealerStore , July 01, 2012
patio deck staining
My patio deck became very slippery after staining it with TWP stain (applied two coats) WHY?
craigtabbert , July 01, 2012
re: would it be better to just put one coat of twp 100 series
You should wait about 2 days after the prepping to stain. You could do the two coats but I would suggest 2 light coats since the deck is only 10 months old.

New wood is not very absorbent and if you over apply the TWP will not penetrate properly.

TheSealerStore , June 01, 2012
Hello, I was wondering if my deck is 10 months old, would it be better to just put one coat of twp 100 series, or do a second coat? Why do people say it is better to do just one coat on new wood? Also, how long must i wait until i can stain the deck after using a cleaner, and a brightener? Thank you so very much for all of your help.
David Tang , May 31, 2012
re: water base vs oil base,
Both will work just fine. Being that it is an older deck then an oil based may help better. We like deck pads for applying.
TheSealerStore , May 13, 2012
Im still not sure what deck stain to use, water base vs oil base, deck is 14 years old, live in florida. Pads vs mops to apply??
luz , May 13, 2012
re: I used one type of deck pad (shur-line) to stain 1/2 of my deck
I doubt that it will even out. What stain did you use?
TheSealerStore , April 18, 2012
I used one type of deck pad (shur-line) to stain 1/2 of my deck with semi transparent oil stain then ran out of day light. The next day I used a different type of pad (deck mate)and now it looks like to different shades of stain. The directions for the stain states to only apply one coat, will they both dry to the same color? Thanks.
Tom , April 18, 2012
re: black pikets
We do not sell any black opaque stains. You might want to look at the Black Walnut in the TWP 1500 Series.
TheSealerStore , September 24, 2011
black pikets
I want to stain my railing pickets opaque black. What stain do you recomend for pressure treated pine?
mark kolmacic , September 23, 2011
re: type and color
Not sure on the brand but it is a cedar color on pressure treated wood.
TheSealerStore , September 22, 2011
type and color
what type of stain and color is shown in the picture above? Also what type of wood?
mark kolmacic , September 22, 2011
re: primer
Primers are not needed for outside wood deck stains.
TheSealerStore , September 06, 2011
Is a primer needed if customer wants a semi transparent or a solid stain applied to bare wood?Are there products that have the capabilities of a primer included in the paint stain?Thanks
Doug , September 06, 2011
another underside question
What about treating the underside of a ramp where sections of it are pretty low and close to the dirt below?

Kate , August 25, 2011
re: sealing underside of dec
The only reason to seal the underside of a deck is for appearance.
TheSealerStore , August 17, 2011
sealing underside of deck
Im getting a deck built out of regular wood (not pressure treated) And the person building it says that there is no need to seal the under side of the deck. He says that the sealant will seep through the top and soak till the bottom.
I just wanted to know if there was any truth to this or should I insist that he treats the bottom as well.
Thanks in advance
Ralph de Gouveia Pinto , August 16, 2011
re: Cedar Deck
There is not a "longest" lasting stain for all scenarios.

Where do you live?

Do you have mold issues?

Full sun or partial?

Have you or will you remove all the previous stains?
TheSealerStore , April 30, 2011
Cedar Deck
I am looking for the longest lasting stain for my cedar deck. The deck is 16 years old and I am tired of having to stain it every year. If you could please let me know I will greatly appreciate it.
Ryan Rigby , April 30, 2011



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