How to Stain Your Deck

Whether your deck is brand new or in need of a touch up, the procedures to follow on staining your deck are quite similar, and can easily be accomplished over a weekend dedicated to this kind of big project.

Wooden decks require maintenance every one to three years because of the constant exposure to sunlight, rain, and all other elements of weather. Below are some tips on how to effectively stain your deck.

Step 1: Gather Needed Materials

Here’s a list common materials used for a deck staining project:

  • Stiff Bristle Brush for sweeping
  • Stain and Sealer
  • Paint Brush (avoid synthetic brushes and opt for a natural material)
  • Paint Roller for sealer application
  • Paint Tray and Liner
  • Drop Cloth
  • Gloves

Step 2: Prepare Deck Surface

wooden deck

Being very thorough with this step is especially important. The more detail-oriented the preparation, the better the outcome will be.

Start by removing everything from the deck area, then sweep away all loose debris.
Next you’ll need to wash the deck with a detergent that is made specifically for the type of wood your deck was built from. If you are working with an area that has been previously stained, you may need to use a deck stain stripper prior to washing with the detergent.

After cleaning is complete, conduct an inspection to determine the condition of your boards. Replace or repair your boards as needed, then perform a light sanding to increase the stain absorption.

Step 3: Applying Stain

Before you begin staining, the deck needs to be completely dry. As a rule of thumb, wait at least 24 hours after washing to allow adequate dry time. Choose an overcast day with a low percentage of humidity, and zero chance of rain, as the stain needs a few hours to dry.

Another best practice prior to staining your deck is to tape off the perimeter so that no stain will penetrate the sides of your house.

deck cleaning

The type of stain you choose will depend on your overall preference. If a natural wood grain appearance is what you are looking for, then choosing a stain that is transparent or semi-transparent is the way to go, and solid-color stains will appear like a coat of paint. Also ensure that you are choosing a deck stain that is intended for exterior use.

When applying your stain, be sure to brush in the direction of the wood grain and also start from the top and work your way down. Starting with the hand rails and side rails are preferred because if any dripping occurs it will not be over a finished area. This is where a drop cloth underneath your paint tray comes in handy.

You may apply more than one coat of stain to achieve your desired look, but between coats it is important to let the stain dry completely. This can take up to three hours.

Step 4: Applying Sealer

After the stain has had enough time to dry, you may begin to apply your sealer. Almost any type of sealer will work well over any type of wood, however you will need to ensure that the sealer is intended for exterior use and that it is specifically for waterproofing.

For this step it is perfectly fine to pour directly from the can and spread evenly with your paint roller, but do ensure that no puddling occurs on your deck surface. Allow the sealer to dry for 24 hours before walking on it and allow another couple of days dry time before moving furniture and other decor back into place.

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