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.
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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.