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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  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Jean Hammock · 08/24/2012
    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.
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    The Sealer Store · 07/03/2012
    It depends on the brand of stain. It may need to be stripped off.
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    michael vonitter · 07/03/2012
    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.
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    The Sealer Store · 07/01/2012
    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.
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    craigtabbert · 07/01/2012
    My patio deck became very slippery after staining it with TWP stain (applied two coats) WHY?
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    The Sealer Store · 05/31/2012
    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.

    Thanks!
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    David Tang · 05/31/2012
    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.
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    The Sealer Store · 05/13/2012
    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.
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    luz · 05/13/2012
    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??
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    The Sealer Store · 04/18/2012
    I doubt that it will even out. What stain did you use?
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    Tom · 04/18/2012
    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.
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    The Sealer Store · 09/23/2011
    We do not sell any black opaque stains. You might want to look at the Black Walnut in the TWP 1500 Series ([url]http://www.opwdecks.com/twp-1500-series.htm[/url]).
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    mark kolmacic · 09/23/2011
    I want to stain my railing pickets opaque black. What stain do you recomend for pressure treated pine?
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    The Sealer Store · 09/22/2011
    Not sure on the brand but it is a cedar color on pressure treated wood.
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    mark kolmacic · 09/22/2011
    what type of stain and color is shown in the picture above? Also what type of wood?
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    The Sealer Store · 09/06/2011
    Primers are not needed for outside wood deck stains.
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    Doug · 09/06/2011
    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
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    Kate · 08/25/2011
    What about treating the underside of a ramp where sections of it are pretty low and close to the dirt below?

    thanks
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    The Sealer Store · 08/16/2011
    The only reason to seal the underside of a deck is for appearance.
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    Ralph de Gouveia Pin · 08/16/2011
    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