Pocket Guide: How to Stain a Deck


Summer is around the corner, which means it’s time to get started on outdoor projects that let you take advantage of the beautiful weather and prepare your home for the season ahead! A big-ticket item on this list is staining your deck, which not only enhances its appearance but provides essential protection of the wood from the elements. It can take a bit of prep work and a few days of drying time, but learning how to stain a deck is a great tool for you to have to help your deck last longer…and look beautiful throughout.

Test the Wood

Before you get started, be sure to test the wood to ensure that it’s able to absorb the stain. To do this, simply sprinkle a bit of water on the deck – if it soaks in within 10 minutes, the deck should be stained as soon as possible. If it beads or pools, the urgency is less so. Keep in mind, stained wood should be maintained every year to three years.

Check the Weather

This is an underrated tip that’s crucial to a successful deck staining project. Stain dries quickly but also needs time to absorb into the wood, so the ideal weather forecast is several days of mild-to-warm temperatures with no chance of rain. If possible, try to avoid applying stain in direct sunlight.

Prepare Your Deck

Getting your deck prepared for stain is just as important as applying the stain itself. First, remove any furnishings, plants, or any grill equipment from the deck. As you do this, inspect the wood and repair any imperfections you may notice, such as missing nails or splintered areas. Add painter’s tape along the area where your home’s wall meets the top of the deck to help prevent the stain from adhering to your siding. Sweep away all debris for a clean slate.

To ensure the deck boards are free of mold or dirt, clean each board thoroughly with a deck cleaner, scrubbing with a brush while soaked. Allow the solution to soak in for a few moments, then rinse clean with a pressure washer or hose. Dry for at least two days before moving onto the next step, which is applying the stain.

Apply the Stain

First and foremost, read the instructions on your particular brand of stain, as each can vary slightly. Stir your stain thoroughly and pour it into a paint tray for easier application. A great tip to tell if the stain is the color you want is by testing a discreet patch of your deck – this way, if you’re dissatisfied, you can save yourself the mistake of realizing after you’ve completed the project.

After you’ve confirmed you’re happy with the stain color, start by applying it to your deck’s highest wood features; this could include posts, railings, balusters, and so forth. From there, work your way down using even, long strokes.

Move on to the deck boards, applying one coat of stain using a paint pad applicator, which is easier than brushing each board by hand but still accurate. If needed, you can use a paintbrush to apply stain in problem areas, such as between cracks. Be sure you paint from the farthest innermost corner of your deck and work your way towards the exit so you don’t trap yourself among your handiwork. Once completed, allow your stain to dry for at least one or two days.

Contact Richmond Hardware & Paint

At Richmond Hardware & paint, we offer a huge variety of stains and paints for every project on your to-do list. To speak with our expert team with any questions you may have about how to stain a deck or the products involved, simply contact us today – we’re happy to help!