November 1, 2021

How to Stain a Deck: All You Need to Know

How to Stain a Deck: All You Need to Know

Decks are an important part of our lives; we spend memorable moments with family and friends there. They also increase our living space and add to our quality of life. Unfortunately, decks are not immune to harsh weather conditions, in fact, harsh temperatures and other weather phenomena affect their integrity. Every few years, it is important to stain your deck to avoid mold and mildew build-ups. When staining a deck, it must be done under perfect weather conditions to maximize the desired results.

Tools and Materials You Need to Stain Your Deck

Tools and Materials You Need to Stain Your Deck

The first question on any homeowner’s mind before staining a deck is always: what do I need to stain my deck? It is important to come in with a well-designed plan and the right deck staining equipment:

  • Broom
  • Stiff synthetic-bristle brush
  • Putty knife
  • Garden hose
  • Clear plastic
  • Goggles
  • Safety mask
  • Painter’s tape
  • Scissors
  • Rags
  • Manual pole sander
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint brush
  • Paint roller
  • Deck cleaner
  • Wood conditioner
  • Wood stain
  • Wood finishing coat

How to Stain Your Deck in 7 Simple Steps

How to stain a deck is not a difficult task, but it does require thorough planning, and it is such an important thing to do to maintain your deck.

Step #1: Choose The Stain

Choose The Stain for Deck

A deck is a cozy outdoor extension of our homes. The stain of your deck should match the house and can add so much character and color to your home. Unfortunately, snow, winds, ice, rain, pets, sunlight, and even foot traffic can, over time, affect your deck. Before deciding whether to stain your deck or not, you should attempt a ‘water test,’ simply pour a little bit of water on your deck and watch; if the deck absorbs the water after 15 minutes, then you should stain your deck, if, however, the water pools on the surface then staining of your deck because less immediate. On average most decks need to be stained every three years or so. Choosing a stain for your deck is synonymous with the way you want your yard to feel. Most people keep the same kind of stain for their deck, while others prefer to sometimes go in a completely different direction. It comes down to personal preferences.

Step #2: Prepare The Deck for Staining

Prepare Deck for Staining

The first step is to clear the deck, remove all lawn furniture, barbecue, and other items off the deck for the duration of the process. Before applying the stain to a wooden deck, you must make sure that it is clean. There must be no dust, dirt, grease, mildew, leaves, wood fibers, or any other debris on the deck. If the stain is applied to an unclean surface, it will not stick, and it will peel off. The best way to clean debris off a deck is to use a broom and sweep the entirety of the deck. This may have to be done a few times, depending on the state of the deck.

Step #3: Apply Deck Cleaner to Wash The Wood

Prepare The Deck for Staining

For this part, it is recommended to wear goggles and other protective gear to protect skin and eyes from the cleaning product. Generously apply deck cleaner and use a roller to spread it around evenly. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes to ensure the cleaner soaks into the wood. After the cleaner has set into the wood, use the stiff synthetic-bristle brush to scrub and remove all leftover debris or residue. Then use a garden hose to rinse the cleaner from the wooden surface of the deck. Make sure to keep about 10-inches from the wood when spraying with the hose to avoid damaging the deck.

Step #4: Sand Your Deck

Sand Wooden Deck

For this stage, it is imperative to wait until the deck is fully dry before proceeding. Gently sand any areas of your deck to remove stubborn residue, old and new decks alike absorb the stain better once lightly sanded down. Sanding the wood before staining your deck will remove damaged parts of the wood and keep your deck smooth. Most people, when sanding a deck, will get a manual pole sander for convenience.

Step #5: Start with Railing and Other Raised Objects

Prepare Wooden Deck for Staining

When staining a wooden deck, it is wise to use painter’s tape and place it around the deck to avoid accidentally damaging the house’s siding. Once that step has been completed, it is recommended to sweep the deck one more time before applying the stain. When you are ready to apply the stain, it is encouraged to stir the stain thoroughly before usage to remove any clumps and make sure it is smooth before usage. With that completed, we can then start with the actual staining of the deck, and it is a rule of thumb in painting to start at the top and move your way down.

Step #6: Stain The Deck Boards

Stain The Deck Boards

When staining a deck, it is vital to remember this one simple rule: ‘don’t get trapped’; it is important that when staining your wooden deck that you have a clear exit strategy, so it is always recommended to stain the deck while moving backward towards your exit point. You can use a roller to apply the stain to the boards of your deck, but it is recommended to use a brush to ensure the stain is fully applied even in the cracks of the wooden boards of the deck. It is important not to forget the sides of the boards where two boards meet. One layer of stain is often enough if applied evenly throughout.

Step #7: Wait Until The Deck Is Dry

Stained Deck Drying

It is essential to let the stain dry fully before using your deck. Variations in humidity and the climate can affect the time it takes for a stained deck to dry, but on average, it takes 24 hours. Once the deck is fully dry, examine the deck and, if need be, sand away any residue that may remain.

Bonus Tips

Staining a wooden deck

Now that we covered the basics of staining a wooden deck, here are some bonus tips that will make your deck stand out:

Tip #1: Check with The Weather Forecast

It is mindful of being aware of the forecast when staining a deck. Fall temperatures and conditions are typically ideal for staining a deck. A week of dry fall weather can ensure that your deck will have enough time to dry slowly and properly. If the weather is too hot, the stain may not absorb into the wood as well because it will dry too quickly.

Tip #2: Pick The Right Brushes

When staining your deck, it is vital to have the right equipment. A paint roller will get the bulk of the work done, but a brush will need to be used to get into all the crevices of the boards.  Avoid using polyester or nylon brushes, they may go stiff. It is always best to use a natural bristle brush, it won’t go stiff, washes easily, and can be reused in future projects.

Tip #3: Match The Stain to The Wood

It is important to match the stain to the wood on your deck. Keep in mind that stain can look different if the deck is not clean or worn out. When choosing a stain for your deck, it is always better to match it with the existing stain on your deck. Also note, that if your deck has previously been stained with an oil-based stain, then a water-based stain will not work. It is always better to go with an oil-based stain when staining your deck.

Frequently Asked Questions

If this is your first time staining your deck, then it may seem like a daunting project. Here are additional tips and frequently asked questions.

How long does it take to stain a deck?

This depends on the size of your deck, but a typical wooden deck will require 4 to 5 days of work because of the cleaning process before the staining and the waiting period between letting the stain set.

How long after power washing can you stain a deck?

Once the deck has been power washed, you must wait 48 hours before applying the stain to ensure that the deck is fully dry. Your stain won’t stick to the wood if the boards of your deck are still moist. This is also why it is important to carve out a dry period in the forecast to stain your deck.

Can you apply deck stain with a roller?

Yes, you can. However, it is essential to note that using a brush is unavoidable because you need to ensure that the stain gets into all the cracks and crevices of the wooden boards on your deck.


Staining your wooden deck every few years is crucial to ensure the integrity and quality of your deck. This can be a big and time-consuming project which requires a lot of materials. It is important to use the right equipment to end up with the best results. However, many homeowners often look for projects around the house, this may be one that is best left to the professionals who will make sure that your deck reflects your home.

Contact Oahu Pro Painters to get help in staining your wooden deck today!

Sign Up For A Free Estimate Online Today, Or Call Us At 808-468-5604

Sign Up For A Free Estimate Online Today, Or Call Us At 808-468-5604

Sign Up For A Free Estimate Online Today, Or Call Us At 808-468-5604

Sign Up For A Free Estimate Online Today, Or Call Us At 808-468-5604

Sign Up For A Free Estimate Online Today, Or Call Us At 808-468-5604

Sign Up For A Free Estimate Online Today, Or Call Us At 808-468-5604

Sign Up For A Free Estimate Online Today, Or Call Us At 808-468-5604

How to Stain a Deck: All You Need to Know
Written By:
Karl Van Zadnt

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