deck sealerMust Read!

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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  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    The Sealer Store · 06/30/2013
    If the stain is still wet then yes the rain will create spots in the stain.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Vesta · 06/30/2013
    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....
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    The Sealer Store · 09/16/2012
    Yes on the railing.

    You can switch the cleaner/stripper up if needed. Just make sure to brighten all of it.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Treia · 09/16/2012
    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?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    The Sealer Store · 07/13/2012
    Not a straight line against the hose when edging. Stagger it so that it will blend better when you finish the flooring.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    William V Courtney · 07/13/2012
    Can you please explain what a "staggered line" is?
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    The Sealer Store · 03/01/2012
    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.
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    patrick powell · 03/01/2012
    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
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    The Sealer Store · 02/28/2012
    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.
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    patrick powell · 02/28/2012
    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
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    The Sealer Store · 07/15/2011
    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.
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    Albert L · 07/15/2011
    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!
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    The Sealer Store · 06/17/2011
    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.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Gary · 06/17/2011
    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.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    The Sealer Store · 04/22/2011
    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 ([url][/url]) 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!
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    chriss · 04/22/2011
    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
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    The Sealer Store · 04/26/2010
    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.
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    JBH · 04/26/2010
    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?

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    Croisan · 09/27/2009
    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!
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    The Sealer Store · 08/16/2009
    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.