Deck Staining

How to Deck Stain and Restore Your Deck to its Original Beauty

By Mark J. Donovan

Deck staining will keep your deck looking like new and protect it for years to come. Deck stain protects a deck from water, snow, and ultra-violet light damage. I’ve summarized below deck staining instructions for restoring your deck’s original beauty and protecting it from the weather elements.

Deck Stain Selection

When it comes to purchasing deck stain you have three basic choices, solid deck stains, semi-transparent stains, and clear stains. Your best choice is to select a deck stain that is relatively similar in color to the original color of the deck. My deck stain of choice is a semi-transparent deck stain.

Deck Cleaning

Prior to deck staining it is imperative that the deck be thoroughly cleaned. First sweep the deck clean of any loose debris. Then apply a deck cleaner solution to the deck, brushing it on and then rinsing it with a garden hose.

Alternatively you can use a pressure washer to clean the deck however be careful to not to damage the deck wood. Use a low pressure adapter on the pressure washer wand and keep the end of the pressure washer wand at least one foot away from the deck surface. Applying the pressure wand to close to the deck can damage the wood grain and will result in an ugly deck stain finish.

Allow the deck to thoroughly dry out before moving on to actually applying the deck stain.

Solid deck stain applied to this deck.  Deck staining using a 4 inch brush.

Also make sure the weather forecast shows dry weather for the next 24 to 48 hours. In addition, avoid deck staining when the weather is expected to be extremely hot or cold. Deck stain should not be applied below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Deck Staining

I find the best results for deck staining is to use a 3-4 inch wide brush as the applicator. Applying deck stain with a roller can make the job go faster however the deck stain does not penetrate as well into the decking boards. In addition, there is more deck stain waste.

Dip the brush into the deck stain to absorb enough stain to make 3 or 4 brush strokes. Apply the deck stain with the grain of the wood and make medium to long brush strokes. I typically prefer to go the length of the deck board to prevent any lap joints on the finished deck surface. Alternatively you can apply deck stain to 3 or 4 deck boards at a time to limit the amount of moving back and forth the length of the deck.

Deck Installation Bid Sheet

After applying the deck stain, allow it to dry for 24 to 48 hours prior to walking on it.

For help on building a deck, see’s Deck Installation Bid Sheet. The Deck Installation Bid Sheet will teach your how to hire the right deck contractor, and help to ensure that your deck project is completed on time and budget.

Related Information

Additional Deck Building and Design Resources

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