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How to Stain a Deck

All wood decks should be stained to protect the wood from ultraviolet sun damage and moisture damage. This will prevent your deck from weather damage including checking and cracking. Decks.com recommends that you use a high-quality water-based stain. Don’t confuse a topical sealer for stain. Sealers only protect the wood from moisture. They don’t protect the wood from checking and cracking when the wood dries out.

Many Decks.com readers ask us, when should I stain my deck? For the best results, you should stain cedar, redwood, exotic hardwoods and clear pressure-treated decks as soon as the deck is built and every spring afterward. However, green-treated, pressure-treated wood should be allowed to dry out for 30-90 days before applying the first stain.

Always make sure the deck is clean and dry before you begin staining. Wait at least 24 hours after washing your deck to apply stain. Also, try to avoid staining your deck right before it rains. Most stains require at least 2-3 hours for drying.

Always follow the instructions on the container for application. Do your best to apply the stain evenly. Rails will always require the most time and attention to detail. Decks.com advises to stain the railings before the floor. This allows you to clean up any drips on the floor surface afterwards.

We recommend covering 50-square-feet at a time in case you spill some. This allows you to mop it up quickly and go back over it within the 20-minute window and still have time to apply your second coat before it dries. If you walk in the wet areas, you need to mop the footprints back out. After the second coat, the product gives a nice even coverage with no splotches because it is water-based. The product has no settlement in the can and it's pre-mixed. It is also very easy and safe to clean up. Be careful not to apply the stain in direct sun. If you do have to apply the stain in direct sunlight, be sure to put your second coat on within a few minutes or it will dry too fast. Always mop or brush in the direction of the grain.

You can attach a broom handle to the brush so you don't have to bend over. Taping off the house is always a best practice to avoid splatters on the siding. The stain dries fast so have a wet rag handy to clean up spills.

 

 


Mixing your wood stain with a stir stick.
Mixing your wood stain with a stir stick.

Make sure to mix your stain before using. 


Pour the stain into a paint tray.
Pour the stain into a paint tray.

Pour your stain from the can to a paint tray.


Use a long handled car wash push brush.
Use a long handled car wash push brush.

It is best to apply the stain to a clean dry surface with temperatures below 80 degrees F.  Use a long handled car wash push brush to evenly apply the stain to the wood surface.


Work from one side of the deck to the other.
Work from one side of the deck to the other.

Avoid creating pools of stain. Always follow the manufacture's instructions. You can use a high-quality paint brush to cover hard to reach areas like under the guard railings.


A well protected deck.
A well protected deck.

Allow 2 to 4 hours for drying time. You may need to stain your deck every year if your deck is exposed to a lot of direct sunlight.

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