How to Stain a Wood 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.
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.
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.
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.