Deck Staining: A Beginner’s Guide

The most critical staining step is sweeping the deck. Stains can be absorbed and cured adequately on a clean base.

Staining the deck (whether it is a transparent coat or a regular color) is vital for proper maintenance and protection of the deck from the elements. 

Cleaning the deck and regularly repairing it are necessary steps to ensure that the deck remains in great condition over the years. Here in the woodworking toolkit, you will find the best deck stains of 2021.

So, without further ado, let us see how to begin the staining process.

View Forecast before Starting

Wet wood stains do not stick well and can break and chip off. If there has been no rain in the past few days, you should consider staining the dry wood. Check the weather outlook and plan for at least two to three days of dry weather with temperatures ranging between 50°F and 90°F. Humidity levels can also affect the drying process. Staining under direct sunlight can also be a concern. The stain might dry too quickly before the wood can absorb it.

Prepare the Surface

For the stains to bind correctly, the wood must be clean and free of dirt and grime. To begin, sand the cracked areas and use a dust mask to avoid inhaling dust. Wipe the deck, then clean between the two boards with a putty knife. To disinfect the wood, use a deck cleaner. It would be best to use a pressure washer, although it may take two or three days for the wood to dry.

Sweep the Surface

To stain the deck effectively, the floor must be totally dry and debris-free. On a sunny day, when there is no rain forecast, start the process by using a broom on the deck. 

Clean the area before staining. Old, weathered decks need high-pressure cleaning. Please use it with care because excessive pressure spray will damage the deck wood.

Make Proper Plans

Determine the starting point and ending point to facilitate entering and leaving the deck. This will eliminate any possibility of getting stuck in the corner of the deck when you complete the staining process.

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Protect the Exterior Wall

Add paint tape to the area where the exterior wall meets the top of the deck. The painter’s tape protects the walls from catching the stains from the deck.

Add Stains to the Tray

Add a rag to the last area to be stained on your deck. Place the paint tray and a gallon of stain on the dripping cloth. Use a paint shaker to stir the stain to ensure proper mixing. Pour the color into the paintbrush tray.

Stain the Deck with a Paint Pad

Dip the paint pad into the tray and apply a firm stain on the entire surface of the deck. After the surface is finished, apply stains on the sides of the deck with a paint pad. Tip: If the paint pad cannot cover the boards’ internal space, please use a 1-inch paintbrush for proper coverage. Please wait 24 hours before placing the furniture back on the deck.

For best results, stain the deck when the temperature is between 50 and 90 degrees, and avoid doing it in direct sunlight as much as possible. The sun will quickly dry out the stain and produce uneven color or brush marks.

Use the Right Brush

Synthetic brushes are ideal for processing water-based stains in wood. On the other hand, natural bristles are unfilled. They may lose their stiffness because they absorb the finish’s moisture and become soft. Do you prefer road rollers? Use when the nap time does not exceed ¼ inch. In this way, you can apply a thin layer of stain, which will stick to the wood without gathering.

Match the Stain Type with the Wood

Each form of stain has its own set of benefits, and the kinds of stains on the deck will influence your decision. Solid stains can clog the wood’s pores and prevent translucent or transparent tints from penetrating the wood. But solid stains can be applied to any type of wood.

Put on a Thin Coating

If you use several gallons of stains in your project, mix them first to ensure the color is consistent. Then, use long, smooth brush strokes to stain two or three boards at a time. Apply solid stains on thin coatings and translucent stains, or apply a transparent sealant on thinner coatings. This prevents puddles from dipping into the wood and peels off the dirt when it dries. No matter what kind of stain you choose, two layers should be applied to ensure there are no empty spaces and a much more even finish.

Let the stain or epoxy dry entirely before adding a second light coating. Based on the deck’s area and the sealant’s existing state, you may only need to re-apply a second coat on the chosen location, or you may not even need to re-apply it whatsoever.

Allow the deck to dry completely according to the time stated on the specific brand of stain or sealant package. After drying, please re-rinse the surrounding plants and remove the plastic protective sheet (if used).

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Even the best staining jobs require regular repairs about every two to three years.

The biggest challenge in re-staining the deck is to ensure that the deck is clean. Sweep thoroughly, and use a screwdriver to remove debris between the floor and joints.

It is not recommended to stay at a point for too long while pressure cleaning or using a pressure setting that is too high, and it is likely to damage the circuit board. After the deck is completely dry, sand any fuzzy spots with 80 grit sandpaper, remove the remaining dust, and then apply fresh stains. You can change the color by darkening it.


While the method of staining the decks is very straightforward as a do-it-yourself project, it does necessitate one thing that many homeowners do not have – time. Due to the drying process, from start to finish, staining may take several days to complete, even if the actual active time is approximately 3–5 hours. Also, the painting process is complicated. It may involve some difficult edges, which may be troublesome for older or disabled homeowners. 


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