Deck Stain Failed? Who to Blame?  4.3/5 (8)

This post was updated on May 1, 2024

Peeling Deck Stain

Peeling Deck Stain

My Deck Stain Failed? Who to Blame?

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Deck Stain Failed? Who to Blame, the Stain? Or the Person who Applied the Stain?

There is nothing worse than going through the time-consuming process of applying a stain just to see that it is peeling a few months later.

This a common query and occurrence for many exterior wood deck owners. You love your garden and deserve to enjoy it. Nobody wants to see an unsightly, peeling deck so today we will be looking at who is the main culprit – the stain or the person who applied it?

Potential human errors

As we know, excellent preparation of your decking is crucial when you intend to apply a new stain. It is the most prevalent reason that deck stains fail.

Applying a water-based stain on top of an oil-based stain or the other way around is one of the major issues that many don’t know exists. Often, stains will simply not stick to other brands so if you are changing then it’s vital you properly remove the old stain.

The case could also be that the old stain – which failed by peeling or wearing unevenly – was not fully removed. It’s a bad idea to try and apply a new stain over an old one without first using an effective deck stain stripper. Otherwise, the new coat will be doomed to have the same problems as the one you are removing.

Some people erroneously assume that just because a deck is brand new, it is ready to be stained. This is a rookie mistake. Every deck needs to be correctly prepared for staining whether it’s new or ten years old.

Also, when sanding, it’s important to note that exterior decking is not the same as an interior one. When wood is porous, it is more susceptible to absorption so stains are able to thoroughly soak through. A little tip to ensure your wood soaks up the stain is to keep your sandpaper at sixty grit or less. When finished, use a cleaner and wood brightener to clean away the sawdust.

Do not over-apply. A deck stain will not last any longer if you apply more coatings and in fact, the opposite may happen. Too much stain can film on top of the wood leading to premature failure or peeling.

Problems with the stain

If you’re doing everything right and still having trouble, the problem might not lay with you but with the stain, instead.

With so many options at your fingertips, it’s hard to decipher which stains are better or worse quality. Do a little reading into the world of stains and you will quickly see that certain brands have a history of underperforming.

We believe that penetrating stains are always the best option. Top 6 Deck Stains. Deck stains that dry/film on the top of the wood and do not penetrate usually have a shorter lifespan, prone to peeling, and don’t last as long.

If your deck is well-prepped and you researched the wide array of high quality, long-lasting, penetrating stains then you will minimize the risk of having annoying problems in the future. Careful planning and preparation are the keys to success when staining.

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author avatar
Scott Paul ~ Restoring Wood & Decks Since 1993 Owner
As an article and comment contributor to the site, Scott has been around the pressure washing industry since attending college. In 1993 he started his first company called Oakland Pressure Wash specializing in exterior pressure washing and deck staining. That company evolved into OPW L.L.C. shortly thereafter concentrating more on exterior wood and deck restoration. Scott and his Deck Cleaning Michigan company have restored over 10,000 decks in the Metro Detroit area since the early years. He has become an authority in the deck restoration industry and has contributed to numerous wood restoration forums and informative sites. All the products he suggests through this site are sold through online sites and in retail stores, allowing the consumer to choose their own means of purchase. Scott’s eCommerce sites do sell many top brands he endorses and if you appreciate any of the help he has offered then feel free to purchase from one of them.

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5 years ago

I will renovate my deck and I saw on Youtube that to prevent “stain blotching” you use a stain conditioner. Is it OK for outdoor to use a stain conditioner before you start deck staining?

5 years ago

what is the negative effect of using a stain conditioner? What solution is there to prevent stain blotching? Thanks

5 years ago

should I use 180 sandpaper instead to get a smooth surface?

5 years ago

Is the fall of the year a bad time to stain a drck?

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