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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    Ryan Rigby · 04/30/2011
    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.