This post was updated on January 18, 2023
Deck Staining Tips 2023
We have been restoring decks in the midwest for over 25+ years now and have used numerous different methods, applicators, sprayers, staining pads, and brushes when it comes to applying a deck stain. We average around 500 deck restorations in a year and when dealing with a shortened season and constant weather-related issues, we have to be as efficient as possible when applying a deck stain so we can get as many done in a day as possible. On average it will take a 2 man crew 1-2 hours to stain a 500 sq foot deck when using the proper tools and techniques.
Following these tips, any residential homeowner will be able to stain a deck within a few hours.
Note: Always read and follow the stain brand manufactures directions. Not all stains are applied exactly the same and some will require 1-2 coats. Use these tips as a guide and modify as needed depending on the brand and type of stain being used.
See below for more info on Staining Tools Needed.
Deck Staining Fast Tips
- Open the stain and mix for one minute. Drill paddle mixers on a cordless drill work great. Try to mix every 30 minutes while using it as the stain can settle.
- Cover the outside and below the deck to protect concrete, bushes, grass, etc, with poly tarps or plastic. You may need to weight down the tarps to keep them from blowing in the wind.
- Start with railing first if applicable. No railings, skip to step #8. Using a smaller stain pad or brush start the section of railings near the house and stain a section of the rails 4-5 feet away from the house by hand. Make sure to use cardboard to catch any drips under the railings from staining the flooring prematurely. Staining Fast Tip: You will need to do all railings that butt up to the house by hand to avoid overspray on the house.
- Using a canvas tarp that is 9×12, hang it so it is 12 feet across the railings with 4.5 feet down on each side of the railing.
- Using a sprayer apply the stain by lifting up one side of the canvas tarp. The other side of the canvas will prevent over-spray. Walk around and do the opposite side the same way. Include outside edge of deck flooring as well.
- Move the canvas down the railings to the next section. Look over the section that was just sprayed and touch up any areas that were missed. Check for any runs or drips and even those spots out with a pad applicator or brush. Move cardboard under the railings to the next section that is about to be done.
- Repeat Steps 3-6 until railings are completed.
- Starting on the flooring, use a stain pad or brush to “edge” out the house so that you are at least 2-3 feet away from the home with the stain
- Using a sprayer apply one coat of stain to the rest of the flooring. Staining Fast Tip: If only applying one coat of stain to the deck, skip this step and move directly to Step 10.
- Using a wider floor stain pad or brush on an extension pole, apply a coat of stain evenly over the entire surface. Staining Fast Tip: Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions as to how long to wait between the first and second coat. Some will say apply wet on wet while others want the first coat to fully dry before the second coat is applied.
- Always finish steps last using the same methods.
Important Safety Note: When applying an Oil-Based Stain, canvas tarps and any rags should be saturated with water and allowed to dry before disposing of. DO NOT leave tarps or any rags in direct sunlight or in/near the house. They can cause a fire!
Fast Deck Stain Application Tools
Stain Pad Applicator or Floor Brush with Threaded pole. This is used for the flooring. Wider pads or brushes are better for faster application.
- Stain Pad Applicator or Brush for Railings. Typically 3-7 inches wide
- Optional Sprayer. Spraying a deck stain will speed up the process immensely. Take precautions to cover any bushes, concrete patios, etc. Pump sprayers can be used for many semi-transparent and transparent stains. Thicker stains such as semi-solid or solid stains will require an airless sprayer.
- Canvas tarps, poly tarps, paint trays, etc.
Do you have any questions as to Applying a Deck Stain Fast? If so, ask below in our comment area or see our Deck Stain Facts section with over 150 simple Q&A articles that answer all the questions that you have regarding deck staining, cleaning, and prep.
Deck Stain Help & Questions
- Oil Deck Stain
- How to Remove Stain From Wood Deck
- How to Stain Rough Cedar
- Solid Deck Stain Reviews
- What Temperature Is Too Cold to Stain a Deck
- Deck Stain Over Paint
- Wood Deck Sander
- Deck Sealing Vs Staining
- Wood Deck Sealer
- How Long Does Deck Stain Take to Dry
- How Many Square Feet Does a Gallon Of Stain Cover
Stain Reviews & Comparisons
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.
Should the benches (vertical and horizontal areas) be stained when doing the railings or when doing the floor?
We do them when doing the rails.
I am removing my stain (1 year old Sherwin Williams super deck semi transparent on cedar deck) by sanding to bare wood. The sherwin Williams product had almost immediate mold issues and flaking where exposed to direct sunlight. I am replacing it with TWP 101. My question is, since sanding to bare wood do I need to treat the wood other than washing it down prior to applying the stain?
Use a deck cleaner and then a wood brightener as this will help to open up the pores after sanding.
Is it recommended to mix outdoor deck stain/sealant with polyurethane at 50/50 ratio and apply to outdoor decking? Pros & cons?
No never. Very bad idea and it will peel.
Can you use a solid color stain on top of paint that has been used on the decking of a large covered wood porch? The porch is 28 1/2 ft. 8’ deep and all of it is painted white, including the decking. The paint closest to the house is mostly intact but is flaking off as it gets nearer to the weather. There are also steps built 3 months ago with treated lumber. I would like to use solid color stain on both the steps and the porch in the same color. Will the stain, in a darker color, cover and adhere to the paint, and will it blend in with the areas that have bare wood? The home is owned by a church and I do not think they plan to sand all the paint off except for the loose places. The home is owned by a church and they are planning to use porch paint on the porch and steps but I think a solid stain would be more durable and attractive if it can be used. What do you suggest? I need some advice as soon as possible.
You should not stain over a paint. You will have to remove the paint or use a paint again.
My porch was stained with a solid stain by the pervious owner and not sure how long ago. Well it started to flake off this year so I power washed it, waited 2 days and then stained it with a very similar color today. I used the Sherwin Williams Superdeck stuff since I use their house paint.
I seen you don’t recommend the product though, so how long should it hold up? It’s under the roof so won’t see rain and stays shaded most of the day.
Since it is under a roof, it should be fine for 2-3 years.
Next time I do it, can I apply one of the TWP products over top of the Superdeck Solid stain or do I have to strip it off completely?
No, you will have to remove it and that will require power sanding.
OK it’s been a few days since staining it and the porch is still tacky and grabs at feet, shoes, boxes, ect… After some research that seems to be from using too much stain. Anyway to solve this problem?
Give it another 1-2 weeks to cure out. It will take longer since it under a roof. There is not a way to solve this without removing and starting over so hopefully, it cures on its own.
Should I apply restore a deck stain with a sprayer or a brush or a pad to a horizontal deck?
Deck brush or stain pads are the best.
can you apply a sealer to the deck after staining
No, never apply a sealer over a deck stain.
In your experience, can TWP 100 be sprayed on, specifically on railings and spindles? Thank you!
Yes, very easy to spray the TWP 100 Series.
I have the same question as Kathy asked previously. If you are working by yourself, how do you lift one side of the tarp and keep it up without the whole tarp falling. I need one hand to hold the sprayer and another to do the spraying. If I lift the tarp up to the top of the rail, the whole tarp falls. Seems that it might be better to cover the deck flooring so the overspray doesn’t get on it and this leaves the whole railing exposed for staining.
Lift the tarp with one hand spray with the other hand holding the wand to spray. Leave the tank on the ground. Very easy and we have been doing it this way for 25+ years.
Please post a video on how to spray the railings using a tarp. Do you hold half of the tarp up in the air (so the other half is behind the railing spindles) with one hand while holding the sprayer with the other hand? It seems awkward.
Sorry, but we do not have a video. It is not that hard or awkward. Lift one side up and the other side is used as a backdrop.
How do I find my post from yesterday to see if I had a reply from YOU??
When using Restore-A-Deck Semi-Transparent Wood Stain 1 Gallon Stain Color Dark Walnut Semi-Transparent on a new deck, do you recommend using a brush or Chapin Clean & Stain Sprayer for
application? Thanks in advance for the insight.
Brush or stain pad.
So i just stained a new deck and i had a few workers helping me well one guy said he knew what he was doing. Well he had a bug sprayer and put way to much on one part of the deck so its really dark then he walked over it and now that it is dry u can see shoe marks in it bad how do i fox this
You cannot fix it outside of removing all and starting over. Trying to “spot” fix will not work and will make it worse.
For RAD semi transparent, can you spray floor for both coats, or do you suggest spraying only the 1st coat? Do spindles and railing need 2 coats, or is 1 enough? If 2 coats are needed for spindles and railing, can both coats be sprayed, or does 2nd coat need to be brushed on?
Any concern about sanding deck 2+ weeks before cleaning/brightening/staining, or should it be sanded closer to stain application? Very old, splintery deck.
Just spray the first coat and then apply the second with a pad or brush. Only 1 coat is needed for verticals. You can sand and then prep whenever. Does not have to be back to back. BTW if you power sand the deck, then only one coat of the RAD stain.
I am power sanding the deck. So if only one coat of RAD, does that need to be applied with a pad or can I spray it on? Thanks so much!
Use a pad or brush.
12 years ago I stained barn with Behr oil based cedar naturaltone 2 coats and then added Marine (man o war) high performance sealer 2 coats – it looks beautiful. I love the color and faded in the sun mostly so I added another coat of the marine uv protector 3 times since. The south and east side is starting to peel – how do I fix it – I sanded down to the wood in some places and when you add the stain again it peels after 1 year. Do I need to start over or what?
You will have to fully sand it all down to the bare wood and never use a marine varnish on a deck, it will peel.
Our deck starts getting the sun early a.m. Is it okay to apply deck stain in some sunlight?
It depends on the brand and type of stain you are using.
Great site. What sprayers do you recommend? Thank you for your time.
This is for a long fence btw
Any quality sprayer will work. We like Chapin or Hudson brands.
Thank you. What Airless Paint Sprayers do you recommend?
Does not matter the brand.
is it advisable to put a transparent oil based stain over a semi-transparent oil stain a year after I stained the deck?
No. If you need another coat, use the same as you used prior.
Wow! make deck is 500 sq feet and it took my 2 days to stain it. Will this work with Thompsons? I applied it last year and it failed within a few months. Might switch brands if you suggest it?
Thompsons is a poor stain brand and these steps would not work well with it as it is similar to a paint when applying, not a stain. Remove it and start over with a better stain: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/the-5-best-deck-stain-reviews-and-ratings/