How to Stain Your Wooden Deck


Wood decks require staining every one to three years to maintain their beauty and withstand the elements. The best time to stain a deck is immediately after it is built and then in the spring. Areas with damaging elements require staining every year. According to, an oil-based exterior stain will give the best results for your outdoor deck, as the oil will help preserve the wood surface.

Things You'll Need

  • Deck cleaner
  • Water hose or pressure washer
  • Drop cloths
  • Paint tape
  • Oil-based stain
  • Paint brushes
  • Paint pad applicator
  • Paint thinner
  • Rubber gloves
  • Remove all furniture and other objects from the deck structure. Sweep and remove debris from the floor and rails.

  • Clean the deck structure with a cleaner made for decks and rinse with a water hose. Using a high pressure washer is also recommended as it will remove ground-in dirt. Let the deck surface dry for several days before staining.

  • Make repairs to deck boards or railings prior to staining.

  • Place a drop cloth around the deck and cover concrete and areas that should not be stained, to prevent accidental dripping. Tape edges that contact house siding if needed.

  • Open the stain container and stir the stain completely to mix the separated pigments together.

  • Stain the handrails first, followed by the vertical and horizontal deck rails. Don't forget to stain the ledge under the hand rail. Use either foam or bristle brushes for this area of the deck.

  • Stain the surface of the deck with a pad applicator attached to a broom handle. Use a brush on areas that are hard to reach or if there are large gaps between the boards that do not get covered with stain. You may want to stain the gaps prior to staining the rest of the deck surface.

  • Brush out stain puddles and areas where excess stain is settled. This will prevent sticky areas on the deck.

  • Dispose of used rollers and foam brushes when finished. Clean bristle brushes according to the paint cleaner or thinner instructions. Allow the deck to dry thoroughly before replacing furniture.

Tips & Warnings

  • Start at the top of the deck and work your way down. This will allow you to fix areas where drips occur. Brush with the grain of the wood to produce the best-looking results. Plan the staining path prior to starting so you do not get stuck in a corner when finished. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the stain.
  • Do not stain a deck if rain is predicted. The stain will take approximately two days to dry completely.

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