How to Stain a Deck Like a Pro
While it may not be the household chore you most look forward to, staining a deck is an essential part of home maintenance and not a task to be skipped. Thankfully, it’s also a backyard idea that won’t break the bank. Whether you’re installing a new DIY floating deck or re-sealing your existing deck to keep it safe and attractive, decks are an integral part of backyard living. But staining them doesn’t have to be daunting. The hardest part (aside from all that elbow grease) is working alongside Mother Nature to ensure your wood isn’t damp and will have a day or so afterward to dry.
Read on for the answers to the most-asked deck-staining questions. And when you’re done, pair your newly stained deck with these low-maintenance bushes and shrubs for a yard that’ll be the envy of the neighborhood in no time.
What is the best way to stain a deck? And how do I stain my deck for the first time?
First, clean the deck appropriately, especially if it’s been a few years since your last staining. You want to avoid using a pressure-washer because it could damage the boards. Instead, use your hose to spray any dirt off the deck. Then let it dry thoroughly. Next, sand any spots that need to be smoothed, and sweep away the dust. Tape up any spots you don’t want to get stain on using painter’s tape. Now you’re ready to stain.
Apply your stain using a natural bristled brush going with the grain of the wood. Yes, you’re going to be tempted to use a roller—it’s a lot faster to cover all that area with a roller than to paint it on by hand—but the brush will do a better job of getting the stain into the grain of the wood. If you do opt for a roller, go over the stain with a brush after rolling to ensure that you have a good coat.
Tip: Aim to stain in the morning or evening, not during peak sun time at midday.
Wait 24 to 48 hours after staining for the stain to dry.
When should I stain a deck?
You want to stain your new deck as soon as possible after installing it. This way there’s less time for dust and dirt to accumulate on the wood—you want it as clean and dry as possible. Check the weather to make sure that you have a few dry days without any projected rainfall, and aim for temps that are pleasant to hot (but not scorching). You want something in the 50°F to 90°F range.
How do I know if my deck is dry enough to stain?
Short of getting fancy and using a moisture meter to measure the level of moisture in the wood (which you can do if you feel up for it), just give the deck a few days to air out without rainfall. You do want to make sure it’s thoroughly dry before adding the stain because you don’t want to trap moisture in the wood, which can lead to rot.
You can also check out a product called Restore-A-Deck, a water-based stain product that can be applied to damp wood.
What are some popular deck-stain colors?
The best way to select a color for your deck is to evaluate the overarching color of your yard and choose something in the same tone. But if you need inspiration, here are three popular colors that won’t steer you wrong.