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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    The Sealer Store · 09/13/2017
    mlingga:
    Hi! We had a new porch built a year ago using thermally modified hardwood lumber. it was stained by contractor with AC semitrans stain. Since then, the wood has been easily stained by oil or standing water, and I wonder if it was poorly prepped or stained. I want to restain with the AC: is there any special prep given the poor take of the first application, or just the standard routine?

    Prep with the Restore A Deck Stripper Kit so it is down to the bare wood:
    https://www.opwdecks.com/restore-a-deck-stain-stripper.htm
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    Mark Ling · 09/13/2017
    Hi! We had a new porch built a year ago using thermally modified hardwood lumber. it was stained by contractor with AC semitrans stain. Since then, the wood has been easily stained by oil or standing water, and I wonder if it was poorly prepped or stained. I want to restain with the AC: is there any special prep given the poor take of the first application, or just the standard routine?
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    The Sealer Store · 06/01/2016
    Use a deck stain pad for the spindles.
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    Kelly Fisher · 05/31/2016
    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!
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    The Sealer Store · 04/21/2015
    Use a stain stripper and pressure wash off. You may need to strip a few times to get it all off.
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    Brad · 04/20/2015
    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?
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    The Sealer Store · 08/09/2014
    The Chapin Heavy Duty is the 1949.
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    Danielle Smith · 08/09/2014
    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.
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    The Sealer Store · 07/31/2014
    Nina, wait 2-3 monhts to season, prep first with Restore A Deck Kits, stain with the Armstrong Clark.
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    Nina · 07/30/2014
    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.
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    The Sealer Store · 07/29/2014
    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.
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    Danielle Smith · 07/29/2014
    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.
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    The Sealer Store · 06/23/2014
    No need to stain the underside.
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    Janis · 06/23/2014
    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.
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    The Sealer Store · 01/23/2014
    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.
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    Mike Danaher · 01/22/2014
    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
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    The Sealer Store · 01/16/2014
    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.
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    Mike Danaher · 01/16/2014
    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
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    The Sealer Store · 10/04/2013
    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.
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    Tara Cole · 10/04/2013
    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.