How To Stain Your Wood Deck 4.3/5 (4)

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Deck Stain Pad

Deck Stain Pad

Updated February 2020

How To Stain Your Wood Deck

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How to stain a deck yourself

Deck staining is a very important process that improves the appearance of your deck and helps to protect it from the elements. A good quality stain can help your deck last for a much longer period of time than if left untreated.

There are many different reasons you would want to stain or re-stain your deck, but it might be too expensive for you to hire a professional company, or you may just enjoy taking on DIY projects.

Whatever the reason, if you are looking for tips on how to stain a deck on your own, this article aims to provide you with tips on how to complete a stained deck yourself  – to the highest possible standards.

How to prepare your deck

First of all, you must prep the deck correctly. If you miss this step, it is likely problems will occur in the future.

You should be careful to ensure that no water is left on the deck after cleaning, and allow it to dry before staining begin. This is important because if the wood is still wet, the stain will not soak incorrectly and might ruin the aesthetic in the long run. The one option for damp wood application is the Restore A Deck Wood Stain.

Make sure to remove any existing stains thoroughly.  If the stains are old or stubborn, you might have to use a stain stripper to remove them completely. (Note: It is important to use protective clothing when using a deck stain stripper to protect your health.)

Once you are done with the preparations, the real process of deck staining can begin.

Tips for staining a deck yourself

  1. You should use brighteners before staining. People often skip using them but they are cheap, easy to use, and very effective. Brighteners help to open up the surface of the wood to improve penetration, neutralize any stain strippers that were used, and restore the appearance of old, weathered wood to look like new again.
  2. Once you have finished with the stain stripper and brighteners you will need to rinse and wash out all the chemicals. This is a very important step that prevents the chemicals resurfacing in the future and eating into the new stain you are about to apply.
  3. Read the entire label of your new stain. It will tell you how to use the deck stain, in what intervals of time you can apply coats, and what to avoid. Even professionals read the label before starting work! Every product is different, and you need to pay close attention to the details.
  4. Make sure not to overuse and over apply the stain. You need to be very precise. If too much stain is applied the wood underneath can’t breathe. If you apply too much you will notice a film appears on the top that will slowly peel and all your work will be for nothing.

Final thoughts: Don’t rush it!

If you want to stain deck yourself without having any professional experience, it’s important to take your time and make a good job of it. Even after you complete the job, you will still need to keep an eye on the deck. From time to time, you may have to do some minor fixes and touch-ups and you should always make sure the deck is clean. Any dirt on the surface will slowly ruin the stain.


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I have a 5year old cedar upper deck with another outside living area below the upper deck. The upper deck “floats” on a waterproof membrane that collects rain and directs the water to the eavestroughs and downpipes. I have rough sanded the upper deck with 60 grit sandpaper. Are all wood cleaner/brightner solutions safe to use on the upper deck? I am concerned that the cleaner/brighter solutions may have chemicals that would damage the waterproof membrane below the upper deck. If I do not use the cleaner/brightner, is there a better product that would be acceptable without the cleaner/brightner step?


I plan on staining about 1,500 square feet of redwood fencing with an Armstrong Clark semi-transparent stain. I want to use a sprayer. Do you have recommendations regarding the sprayer? Thanks


I have stained my deck three days ago using a oil based semi transperent stain however it is still sticky to the touch and doesn’t seem to be drying

Ursula Marino
Ursula Marino

We have a deck with outdoor wood which we had previously applied a solid stain. After only one year it started peeling. Now we sanded the whole deck down to bare wood. We also used a spackling compound to cover some of the cracks. We are planning to use a solid stain to cover any knots and spackling. What stain do you recommend?
Also I like to mention that we live in Oregon.
Thank you,

First of all I wrote a question this morning and can not find question in forum so I will ask again. I have just bought a 12 year old house that has a enclosed porch that leads onto an open deck with finishing done at time of build and not done since.I found what I think is the original stains a Behr Deck Plus semi transparent gray and Penofin clear Brazilian Rosewood oil.I can’t say if oil was put on deck but the wood appears to be pine and the rails are cedar i believe so maybe the oil was used on the rails. I had the deck and rails pressure washed and with a little gray still showing,especially within the knotholes I feel a semi transparent gray would be best,I also want to keep the rails the natural cedar red.So my questions are-can I apply the stain without sanding;do I use a restoration/brightener; will an oil on the rails be ok;the wood is pressure treated wood on the deck;what stain would you recommend for deck floor (by the way I am in New Hampshire) I would like to use an oil stain with one coat.,Also the enclosed deck has an mildew issue and I believe was originally done with Cabot solid acrylic brown stain on the walls and ceiling and I believe done over with Minwax poly clear satin.I was told to scrub with Simple Green pro cleaner but it appears to take the mildew and poly down to stain and would be a really big job.Is there a way to to take off mildew without doing a big job? Enclosed pics of deck floor and rails with a spot I did with Simple green.Thanks.Ron