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These tips will help you stain an average wood deck in 2 hours!

The suggestions below will help you speed up the process of applying a wood stain to a deck. It is best to apply a semi-transparent wood or deck sealer with a pad applicator or by low pressure spraying followed by a pad to ensure an even application.

Equipment Needed:

*These steps are taking in consideration that you are applying a transparent or semi-transparent stain. These are tips and all manufacturer's instructions supercede these tips and should be read first!


  1. Mix product thoroughly. Fill Wooster bucket and pump sprayer with stain. Be careful of spilling onto grass or concrete!
  2. Do one section (about 4 feet) where the railings meet the house by hand with the Padco hand pad.
  3. Lay down Poly Tarp on outside of deck to protect concrete, bushes, grass, etc.
  4. Hang a 9x12 Canvas Tarp so that 4 feet hangs over one side, 4 feet the other side and is stretched 12 feet long on top of the rails.
  5. Using the pump up sprayer apply the stain by lifting up one side of the canvas tarp. The other side of the canvas will stop the over-spray. Walk around and do the opposite side the same way. Include outside edge of deck flooring as well.
  6. Slide canvas tarp down the railing and move the poly tarp to match on the outside. Immediately back wipe all the excess stain that dripped onto the flooring using the 18" Speed Mop, spreading it onto the bare floorboards.
  7. Using the Padco pads you should wipe the drips on the railings and look for any missed spots. Also you should apply a second coat (if needed) to the top of the railing.
  8. Repeat steps 5-7 all the way around the railings until you reach the opposite side. Do steps last.
  9. Once done with railings look over one more time for drips and missed spots.
  10. Using Padco pad slowly edge out the flooring that butts up to the house. Make sure you have a staggered line and that it is applied at least 2 feet away from the house.
  11. Using pump up sprayer lightly saturate the rest of flooring.
  12. Using Wooster Bucket and 18" Speed Mop, apply a second coat evenly over all the flooring. Make sure you apply as much as the wood will allow. Over applying can result in premature product failure on the horizontals! (Follow Manufacturer's Instructions as to how many coats are needed!)
  13. Finish steps with sprayer and Padco Pad.
  14. Properly dispose of pads. When applying an Oil-Based Stain, canvas tarps and any rags should be saturated with water and allowed to dry before disposing of. DO NOT leave tarps or any rags in direct sunlight or in/near the house. They can cause a fire!

We have used this method on over 6000+ decks. Hope this helps!

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re: Unexpected Rain
If the stain is still wet then yes the rain will create spots in the stain.
TheSealerStore , June 30, 2013
Unexpected Rain
What should I do if unexpected rain happens in the middle of a stain job...Will it spot the fresh applied stain or just the boards that I am restaining from having applied stain 2 year ago...Cabin on top of mountain and really cant plan around rain....

Vesta , June 30, 2013
re: staining top rail
Yes on the railing.

You can switch the cleaner/stripper up if needed. Just make sure to brighten all of it.
TheSealerStore , September 16, 2012
staining top rail
Step 5 says to spray the railings, and step 7 says to second coat the top railing if needed. When is the time to first coat the top rail, during the lifting of the tarp the second time for the outside of railings?

Also, half of my deck is covered, so that part needs stripper, but the exposed part has no finish left. I am planning to use cleaner on that portion and then brightener on the entire deck. Is it better to use all stripper and no cleaner so the surface has the same chemical treatment?
Treia , September 16, 2012
re: Staggered line??
Not a straight line against the hose when edging. Stagger it so that it will blend better when you finish the flooring.
TheSealerStore , July 14, 2012
Staggered line??
Can you please explain what a "staggered line" is?
Bill Courtney , July 13, 2012
re: property manager
Exterior Wood Brighteners essentially do two things.

1. They brighten or lighten the natural color of the wood, not the stain.
2. They neutralize the cleaner or stain stripper. This leaves your wood in a natural/neutral pH balance. This in turn can increase the longevity of your stain.

Brighteners will not harm stains unless extremely deteriorated.
TheSealerStore , March 02, 2012
property manager
Thanks for the answers to my last question, which makes me wonder after hearing so much about using a brightner after I use a cleaner. I already have one coat of penopin on the deck and I'am appling a second maintenace coat. I'am just using a cleaner to get the deck clean for my 2nd coat. Won't the brightner afect my first coat or will it help the wood to absorb the next coat? Thanks guys
wilson , March 01, 2012
re: property manager
I would do a light cleaning to remove the mold and mildew and re apply using the Penofin Exotic Hardwood Stain. It is designed to penetrate into IPE better then the Blue Label Penofin.
TheSealerStore , February 29, 2012
property manager
I really like this sit. Very informative. My question is I just finished coating some decks with penofin blue label cedar. I have one large deck that was completly sanded to bare wood. After sanding, i cleaned and brightened and applied one coat of the penopin. The deck in question is in the sun and already fading. I did it 2 months ago. Their stats say to re-coat after 3 to 6 months. No problem, The deck is ipe and instead of the cedar blue label could or should I re-coat with the penofin for hardwood or stay with the blue label in cedar. I think I'am starting to see some black spots in the wood. Is it midewing on me. Thanks so much
wilson , February 28, 2012
re: use brightner if not using stripper/cleaner?
Yes you should use a wood deck cleaner after sanding to open the pores followed by the wood deck brightener. You do not need a stain stripper.

Wait at least one day to dry before applying the Defy Stain.
TheSealerStore , July 16, 2011
use brightner if not using stripper/cleaner?
Hello. I will be sanding the deck to remove splinters on a grayed out deck that hasn't been taken care of in awhile. previous owner probably didnt' do any maintenance on it. Will i still need to use a stripper/cleaner if I am sanding the entire deck? Also, is it okay to use a brightener if a stripper/cleaner is not used? and how long do I have to wait for the deck to dry from using brightner if I am going to use a DEFY water based stain? thanks!
Albert L , July 16, 2011
re: Floodpro Vs Defy?
Oils in general will always penetrate better then a water based stain. Smaller molecules in an oil-based stain. Defy though is the best penetrating water-based stain on the market.

Flood IMO makes average stains. Defy is a better product.
TheSealerStore , June 18, 2011
Floodpro Vs Defy?
Floodpro semi transparent penetrating oil finish better or worse then the Defy hardwood, extreme or epoxy fortified for cedar? Can you give me your thoughts on these two products.I am being told that water based stains cannot be absorbed into the wood where it needs to be like oil based can, as Floodpro is.
Gary , June 17, 2011
re: Couple of follow up questions
1. Reaching over is easier. Also using a stain pad on a pole will help for the hard to reach areas
2. Sorry but we switched to the Padco pads this year. We will fix the link.
3. If you have concrete under the deck then you should tarp. If not then just the outside edges is sufficient.
4. Yes but it would be best to saturate with water so there is no issues.
5. Mineral spirits or paint thinner to clean sprayer from oil-based stains.

You are welcome. They were good questions!
TheSealerStore , April 22, 2011
Couple of follow up questions
1. If the deck not ground level do you use a ladder to do the outside railing and just move the ladder around with you or do you try to reach over while standing on the deck?

2. What is the Speed Painter hand pad. I can't find it on your site or by googling it.

3. Do you poly under the entire deck or just below the rail where the canvas is hanging. Also do you use the blue thicker poly or simple a 1mil clear painters poly.

4. After each stain job do you dispose of all pads, rags and canvas tarps?

5. To clean the low pressure sprayer (say using oil based stain) do you run mineral spirits through it or just some water?

Thanks. Just want to do the job right and efficiently
chriss , April 22, 2011
1. Typically when doing this quickly you will not get lap marks under the railings. This can vary from stain to to stain though. An oil based stain will be more forgiving then a water based.

2. Skip step 11 if the manufacturer only requires one coat.
TheSealerStore , April 26, 2010
1) What about creating lap marks on the flooring? ... the area beneath the railing that is hit when doing the rails would dry in many cases before you applied the coating to the floor. Or, do you only use certain types of stains with this method?

2) What do you do differently if the manufacturer states only one coat of product can be used?

JBH , April 26, 2010
Wolman Durastain - Port Orford Cedar
I've treated our Port Orford Cedar multi-level deck 3 different ways. The first time, I hand painted, the second time, I used a airless sprayer and the 3rd time, I used a pump sprayer and Shur-line Deck pad on a 7 foot extendable pole. (We didn't have speed mops locally). I needed to treat the horizontal surfaces again.

By far, the fastest and best results came with the pad. I sanded the entire deck down. My wife handled any nooks and crannies with a brush as I went along. Wow, that was great.

Port Orford Cedar is the hardest of all cedars. The manufactures directions for the semi-transparent do no work for this type of Cedar. It covered too thick and peeled. Believe me, I tried - twice. On the second attempt with the airless sprayer, I was running out of paint on the 3rd level, so I had to thin it with water. (Durastain is water based). Years later, that level of the deck still has the best adhesion and durabilty, it was the best at actually being semi-transparent, and just looked the best. So good that I didn't re-treat it this 3rd time.

Following the manufacturers directions for the semi-transparent on Port Orford Cedar results in an opaque covering that does not let any of the woods beauty come through.

This time I took 3 gallons of Durastain and mixed in one gallon of water. Perfect! It took three try's over the years to figure this out (by accident). And it went on great and fast using a pump air sprayer to lay on the paint, then applying and pulling the stain with the pad. The beauty of the wood is awesome!

If you haven't done it, make sure you do not attempt it in direct sunlight. The waterbased stains will dryout really fast. Wolman's Durastain was ranked #1 by Consumer Reports a few years ago so I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. This worked great!
croisan , September 28, 2009
re:Rain after defy application
It depends. If it had enough time to absorb at may be okay. If it looks like it washed it off unevenly then you may need to apply a very light coat. I would only do this if absolutely needed.
TheSealerStore , August 16, 2009
I am applying Degy UV clear coat. Just as I was finishing the railings a pop up shower hit that lasted about 5 minutes. Everything got wet (not saturated though). What will this do to the portions that I did that day, as the instructions state to do on a day that it won't rain for 12 hours
litebeim , August 16, 2009
Rain after defy application
I am applying Defy UV clear coat and just as I was finishing the railings, a pop up shower hit. It lasted about 5 minutes but everything got wet, (not totally saturated though). The instructions say to do on a day where it won't rain for 12 hours. What will this do to the portions that I did that day?
litebeim , August 16, 2009
Thanks Matt! This also happens to be our most popular article.
TheSealerStore , July 23, 2009
This is a great method for deck staining It really has increased our efficiency this year.
Matthew Norman , July 22, 2009
Transparents are stains. The amount of added pigment is what determines the classification.

Transparents *Lightly pigmented
Semi-Transparents *Medium pigment
Semi-Solid *Heavy Pigment
Solid *Solid Pigment
TheSealerStore , March 10, 2009
Which is better to use on this a transparent or a stain? I know that it is going to depend on my needs but is one easier to use in this method than the other or should I expect the same end results in both cases, whichever one I use. I might have to try this on various projects.
attgirl , March 10, 2009
Unfortunately Sikkens is one of the most difficult to strip. If it is laying on top of the wood like a "varnish", the deck strippers will have a hard time penetrating through, requiring the possibility of sanding. If the Sikkens penetrated into the wood completely, then any deck stripper will work.
TheSealerStore , February 10, 2009
Any suggestions with stripping Sikkens (original Cetol BL 31 base, then 10 yers later the Cetol 23 maintenance coat is on there)
George Zaferes , February 10, 2009
Thanks Don!smilies/smiley.gif

If anyone has questions please register and ask.
TheSealerStore , January 18, 2009
Scott really knows what he's talking about when it comes to deck staining. As a St. Louis Deck Staining Company, we have used some of Scott's Products. We highly suggest his line of Powersolve Deck Stripping and Brightening products. They work GREAT!
Don Marler , January 17, 2009



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