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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    Susie · 10/01/2019
    Do I have to sand before staining. I have some blanks with wording on it and some railings have splintered
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    Cherish · 09/07/2019
    this is so helpful.....i am so ready to stain my deck, which has weathered heavy rain and 2 atlanta winters; that have left my deck gray, ugly and a few stains (one nice size from a turkey fryer spill). i was told there wasnt a need to power wash, but to clean with a deck cleaner wait 24hrs and stain. do i need to seal deck with a polyurethane? prime the wood? or can i just stain? ??????????? do not want my DIY to go bad. thank you.
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    Peter · 07/05/2019
    I read on another site not to sand the new deck, they suggest: 1) leave it for 1-12 months, or use 1 of the advised stain brands to shorten this to 1-3 months), 2) use a wood cleaner and brightener, 3) let it dry for a few days, 4) TIP; do not sand, 5) apply 1 coat of wood stain, 6) apply a 2nd coat 12-18 months later.

    Im getting confused at what moment you should sand the deck and if you need to use a wood primer for the next coat of stain?
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    Jason · 06/11/2019
    We just moved into a new house. The new deck was built 6 months ago and hasn't been stained. I had to add a section of railing and build a gate for baby-proofing. Will the existing deck be ok for another 3 months so I can stain it all at the same time?
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    Ruth Browne · 06/05/2019
    I got an estimate for staining my new deck and the estimate includes applying epoxy. Why would the deck need epoxy? Isn't that glue? Should I be concerned about this?
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    KD · 04/25/2019
    We live near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We installed a new wood deck (#1 lumber) in June 2018 and let it sit since install. Almost entire deck is in direct sunlight. We would like to stain/seal now. Am I right in assuming we do the following steps:
    1. Powerwash
    2. Use Restore-A-Deck Cleaner
    3. Use Restore-A-Deck Brightener
    4. apply semi-transparent stain
    5. apply waterseal/clear topcoat?

    Also, when applying stain- if common technique is two coats, wet on wet, do you just do a small section at a time to reach all boards without stepping on freshly stained boards? How long dry time between the wet on wet coats- within minutes?
    How long should we wait between stain application and watersealer application?
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      The Sealer Store · 04/25/2019
      You pressure wash after the RAD Cleaner. You rinse with a pressure washer after the brightener. Depending on the stain you choose, you can do two coats wet on wet if allowed. Apply to all and then reapply to all 20-6 minutes later. Do not do in sections. You can walk on wet stain for the second coat.

      You never apply a sealer over a deck stain.
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    Jose · 01/05/2019
    Hello, I have a deck that was built 8 months ago. Half of the deck is covered by a roof. What will be the best stain to use and does it need to be preped before staining? I would also like to keep a light color would that be recommended?


    Thank you,
    Jose
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    Billy Wilson · 06/17/2018
    Is sanding a 3 month old redwood deck in lieu of using a deck cleaner
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      The Sealer Store · 06/18/2018
      Sanding is not the best way to prep. Closes the wood grain. You want the wood porous and slightly rough so the stain can soak deeper into the wood grain.
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    Billy wilson · 06/17/2018
    Do you need to use a deck cleaner and or deck brightener on a 3 month old redwood deck
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    Kurt Cooper · 01/17/2018
    I'm in Central Florida & just want to put down a deck around one side of my koi pond. It's about a 500 sq. ft. area. I was just going to use treated 2 x 4's. So I guess my question is I want a cedar/walnut stain coating but assume I would still add a clear coat sealer afterwards to maintain the look & longevity. I can't wait or physically strip the seasoned 2 x 4's after 3-12 month due to hundreds of various palms & other plants in order to get the stain to work & I want to finish this in 2-3 days. Should I just use non treated 2 x 4's on top & then stain with the cedar/walnut finish & the next day or two apply the clear coat sealer to finish? And the other question is it possible to use a inexpensive 2-3gln weed/lawn hand sprayer to apply both the stain & sealer?
    Thanks
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      The Sealer Store · 01/17/2018
      Hello,

      You cannot apply a clear coat sealer over top of a deck stain. It will not soak in and will ruin the deck stain. You also should not stain brand new wood now. The wood needs to season for 3-4 months at a minimum and must be cleaned and brightened for the prep after the wait, prior to staining.
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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.