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How to Stain a Wood Pergola

Deck Stain PergolaA wood pergola can be a great way to reduce the amount of sunlight heating up your wood deck surface. It can offer shelter from the smoldering sun on extremely hot days without fully enclosing your deck. A pergola can also stand alone in a garden, over landscape features, over a hot tub and more. Like any exterior wood surface, a pergola should be protected with a wood stain to increase its appearance and lifespan. Knowing how to stain a wood pergola is key.

To stain a wood pergola it should first be cleaned using a scrub brush or pressure washer. If the wood is only moderately dirty and grayed, a wood cleaner can be used to loosen any contaminants during washing. However, if an old existing wood stain is present, a deck stain stripper should be used. This will not only loosen natural contaminants like a wood cleaner, but will soften and breakdown any old stain so it too can be washed from the wood surface. A clean wood surface is the key to a long lasting refinish.

After the wood has been cleaned with either a wood cleaner or stripper, it should be coated with a wood brightener. This will neutralize the darkening effects the cleaner has on the wood and will help to enhance the wood’s natural beauty. Brightening also creates a more acidic surface and opens the wood pores for optimal stain absorption. After applying the brightener thoroughly rinse the surface with fresh water.

Allow the wood pergola to dry for a day or two. Prepare the area for staining by covering any surfaces you do not want to get stain on such as concrete, landscaping, windows, etc. It is best to start at the highest point of the wood pergola and work your way down. Following the stain manufacturers recommendations for applying stain, coat each board using a stain pad, brush, roller, or sprayer.

Be sure not to over apply the stain, which can lead to peeling and flaking problems. Apply as much stain as the wood will soak up and wipe away any excess after several minutes. To eliminate lap marks coat one board at a time from one end to the other before moving to the next board. This technique will give you more professional results. Continue until all the wood pergola is stained and allow it to cure for several days.

Using a quality wood stain will make application and maintenance much easier. The stain should last several years but once it is in need of attention you can simply perform a light wash and recoat with the same wood stain product.

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8 responses to “How to Stain a Wood Pergola”

  1. rooz says:

    I am building a pergola using pressure treated wood that i believe to be wet, they have been sitting in sun and rain for over two weeks now but in the event that they are not cured yet which i am almost sure they are not, and i still want to stain it, what would be the best choice in that. The posts will be in a load bearing column, fiberglass i believe is the column material. I am staining essentially the lattice roof. It should be mentioned that i will be growing grape vines that will eventually cover the roof area. suggestions? should i also stain the posts that is being covered up by the column?

  2. Nick says:

    I'm planning to build an open patio( attached pergola), I got the redwood from home depot which it was not cheap ($6000),
    And I want to make the wood look good and last as long as possible, I was thinking of staining and sealing it before building it, but I'm not sure if that is a good idea or not, how can I know if the wood is dry enough to be stained and sealed? And does it need to be cleaned with any kind of cleaner before staining or not? And also I'm having hard time choosing the brand to use, I'm in Las Vegas and uv protection is very needed here, please advise,

  3. Kyle says:

    I am putting in a pergola for a customer. They are going to be putting grapevines on it witch over time they will eat. I need to know what kind of oil or stain I can use that will not effect them eating the grapes

  4. Karen says:

    What's the best stain for a cedar pergola.

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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.