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Deck Stain Instructions for “Wet on Wet”

Deck Stain Application Instructions for 2 coats “Wet on Wet”.

The term “wet on wet” refers to a two-coat application process specific to semi-transparent penetrating stains. In the wet on wet method the first application of stain is applied to an area. Then before the first coat dries or cures, a second coat is applied over the top. This method ensures that the first coat, being still wet, has not sealed the boards from accepting more stain.The wet on wet application should only be used on wood that is absorbent, or porous enough to handle more than one coat of stain. This is normally reserved for exterior wood surfaces that are older than 12 months and have been exposed to weather. It is not recommended for smooth textured or newer wood that has not seasoned. The overall process of wet on wet staining allows the application to be evenly applied and minimizes over-application issues.

Note: Do not over apply decking stains! Follow manufacturer’s directions when it come to amount of coats needed.

Essentially, a wet on wet stain application is equivalent to applying 1 ½ coats of stain because the second coat covers double the square footage as the first. Before beginning a wet on wet coat application, be sure the wood is properly cleaned and prepared.

On a deck, start with the railings and apply one light coat of stain. Be sure to protect any areas from unwanted drips. After the first coat is finished, apply a second light coat to only the top of the railings within 20-120 minutes of the first. Only one coat is required on the verticals like spindles. Repeat this method for any other vertical surfaces such as posts, benches, walls, and so on.

When the railings are finished and have had a two-coat wet on wet application, move to the floor or decking area. Coat the entire floor or with one coat of stain. Within 20-60 minutes of the first coat, reapply a second light coat. Even though the first coat has not dried completely, it is okay to walk on it to apply the second coat. Be careful though not to step on your second and final coat of stain. Wear old shoes that you do not mind getting ruined. Finally to finish, use the wet on wet process on any steps or deck stairs.

The wet on wet stain application method works best with semi-transparent stains. Both water and oil based stains can be applied in this manner. Give your deck or other exterior wood surface maximum protection with a two-coat wet on wet application.

Have a Question about Applying a Stain Wet on Wet? Ask Below!

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10 responses to “Deck Stain Instructions for “Wet on Wet””

  1. Rosalyn says:

    Will wet on wet also work well with a semi-solid like Armstrong Oxford Brown?

  2. rob says:

    Have a summer home in northeastern Washington that was stained with behr 6 years ago. west facing, winters are rough and snow stays on deck 3-5 months. behr didn't survive one winter. considering armstrong clark semi-transparent or semi-solid as the wood is now 14 yrs old and looking rough. spindles are still decent with old behr, might be hard to remove. should i leave it even though top railing board is peeled? local contractors recommend superdeck in our area. is AC better? and would i have to strip and power wash AC down the road or just reapply?

  3. Kurnia says:

    I applied the semi transparent stain but it does not hide enough. Can I simply re-stain it with semi solid over it without stripping it?

  4. Kate says:

    I applied Maxum 7700 semi transparent oil stain to deck that I stripped, revived and sanded. I realized that it is a wet on wet application in which both coats had to be applied within 15 minutes of each other – but I realized it 24 hours later. I only put on one coat. Is it too late to apply the second coat?

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*This is first and foremost a help site from our experience as wood restoration contractors. All stain and prepping manufacturer directions were followed with our reviews and ratings. We offer no guarantee of similar results. Take inconsideration that wood and deck stain results may differ due to prepping procedures, different wood types, exposure to UV radiation, natural weathering, etc.