Deck Staining 101

Deck Stain

 ​If you have a wood deck, then there is a good chance you have or need to stain it to prolong its life and keep it looking great.  There are plenty of choices when it comes to the types of finishes you can apply.

Deck Staining 101

 For this article I am going to focus on oil-based stains and why those are my products of choice.


The misconception on what wears your deck out is usually the rain, however, it’s the sun.  The beading of water comes from a topcoat that will wear away, trap dirt, and not protect the wood.  Semi-transparent oil-basedstains soak into the wood, add color, and protection and still allow the beauty of the wood to show through. Here are the steps to get the job done right.

  1. Clean Your Deck

    • You will need to clean your deck well in order to ensure the stain goes on well and correctly. Things like mildew stains, mold stains, algae stains, dirt and other foreign matter will impact the results of your stain. Using a deck cleaner and a good quality scrub brush will help get the job done.  After you clean the deck, give it 2 days to dry out completely. Make sure you read the label of the cleaner to make sure it will work well before you stain the deck.
  2. Make Repairs

    • After it is clean make any repairs, replace damaged boards and so on.
  3. Sand Deck

    • This is the most important step that most do not complete.  You need to sand the deck, especially the horizontal boards.  Wood as it ages can get what is called a “wood sheen” a constriction of the fibers that makes the wood look shiny especially when wet.  Sanding will open those fibers so that the new stain will be absorbed.
  4. Weather Detection

    • Put on your Meteorologist hat and pay attention to the weather.  You need it to be dry for at least 48 hours and in a perfect world you want daytime temps below 75 degrees.
  5. Stain Deck

    • You need to buy enough stain to cover your deck, on average a gallon will cover about 300 square feet but if the deck is older it may absorb more stain.  For me brushing on the stain along with a roller for larger areas is your best bet.  Just make sure you occasionally stir the can to keep the color resins suspended in the can so the color is consistent. 24-48 hours to dry before you place things back on the deck.

If you follow these steps you will have a deck that looks great and will last longer. On average you should be doing this every 3-4 years.  Now get out there and enjoy that deck.

For more tips, go to tips.acehardware.com

Published: 4/28/2020