5 Steps on How to Properly Stain a Deck

A person staining a deck

Written by My Home Handyman

March 28, 2022

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A wood deck can be a great feature point of any yard. That is, of course, if it has been properly maintained. There are steps to take to ensure that your wood deck remains looking its finest for a long time to come.

If you have never stained a deck before, the process is relatively simple. Remove everything from the deck and ensure that you have thoroughly cleaned it to get rid of any dirt, grime, or mildew on the deck. Check out the wood and make any replacements before you stain. If all is good, find a stain that you like and make sure that the weather is clear not to provide any interruptions. Before you know it, you will have a deck stained beautifully in the colour of your choice.

Properly Staining a Deck

There are five steps to properly staining a deck. Following this guide, you will have the skills and knowledge to make your deck look just as you imagined it could.

The first thing to do is ensure that you have all the materials for the job. In addition to the wood deck stain of your choosing, you will need a sealer, paintbrush, paint roller (and an extension for easier use), goggles, rubber gloves, and a few cleaning rags.

You can order things online for optimal convenience but your local home improvement store should have all that and more. Besides, there is nothing like being able to see the stain of choice in person.

Step 1: Clean the Deck

Moving around furniture is just a pain and you’re more than likely going to wind up with stain on your furniture. Before you can begin the staining process, you first must ensure that the deck is ready to receive the stain. Start by taking everything off of the deck.

When the furniture has been removed, sweep the entire surface of the deck. That should remove any twigs, needles, branches, or leaves and any debris that can sometimes get lodged between the boards.

After clearing away the debris, use a deck detergent and a stiff bristle brush to clean any stubborn dirt, grime, or mildew stains off the deck’s surface. Just make sure that you find a cleaner for your type of wood and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid any potential issues.

Step 2: Examining the Wood

After you have thoroughly cleaned the deck and allowed it time to dry, it is time to take a closer look at the condition of the wood. Check for raised or potentially loose boards, as well as those that have splintering.

For the most part, those can be repaired. If you notice that the surface of the wood looks pretty worn, you will need to sand the surface lightly. This will raise the wood grain to absorb the stain more effectively while also reviving its appearance.

Step 3: Finding the Right Time

One of the keys to providing a proper stain is picking the right time. Make sure you choose a weekend where the forecast is clear and sunny. It will take a couple of days to apply the stain and allow it time to dry. The last thing you want is for a storm to come in and compromise your work.

It is also essential to test out the stain in a small area first, allowing it to dry. This will ensure that the colour looks as you expected it to. There is nothing worse than taking the time to stain the entire deck only to find out it doesn’t look quite right.

Step 4: The Initial Coating

Heavily coat is to ensure that you get proper coverage. Start with your bristle brush and apply the stain to the open-end grain of the boards. When satisfied, start by brushing two or three boards at one end and working to the other with long, smooth strokes.

The key here is to avoid lap marks. Make sure that your brush’s leading-edge is wet and that the damp stain gets brushed into the damp stain. This will allow for the evenest coverage of the stain as you work your way across the deck.

Step 5: Touch-Ups and Second Coats

When you have applied the first coat, give it time to dry properly. This will bring out the actual colour of the stain and give you a better idea of whether or not a second coat is necessary. If you just put on a second coat, it can mean over-application. That can equate to the stain cracking or peeling when it is exposed to moisture.

You want to give your deck three or so days to properly dry before you start putting the patio back onto the deck’s surface and putting it through regular service.

Helpful Tips

While staining is a relatively straightforward process, a few helpful hints can make the process turn out precisely as you envisioned. These are universal tips and can be easily applied to your individual staining experience.

Don’t go cheap. The biggest mistake homeowners make is buying a cheap stain. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for. If you go with something more affordable, it will likely offer less colour quality and durability.

Don’t skip on rinsing. If, during the cleaning process, you have gotten rid of all the grime and debris, don’t skip out on the rinsing. Make sure to take the time to work out any stains and use wood brighteners especially. The latter can help open up the wood to neutralize, strip, and improve penetration for the stain.

Follow the directions. Do not avoid reading the recommendations. Make sure that you follow them because their entire purpose is to create the best results possible. Far too many homeowners think that they can simply come to a general conclusion on how to use the stain they buy.

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