Redwood Deck Staining Tips 3.7/5 (6)

by Deck Stain Help

Updated February 2020

Redwood Deck Staining Tips for 2020

DeckStainHelp.com has become the Internet’s go-to site for wood deck staining tips. As with all different types of wood surfaces, we recommend you properly prep your Redwood before staining. Feel free to leave us a comment with pictures of your completed Redwood projects if you have them.


Stainining Redwood Decks

Staining Redwood Decks

Staining a Redwood Deck Help and Advice

Keeping a redwood deck maintained will slow the weathering process of the wood and increase the life expectancy of the deck. Regularly cleaning and refinishing helps the redwood keep its natural beauty while providing a barrier of protection.

To stain an old redwood deck it is important that the surface be clean of any dirt or debris. Using a pressure washer or scrub brush, apply a wood cleaner to the surface and work loose any dirt, grime, and gray wood fibers. Do not use excessive pressure or get too close to the surface if you are using a pressure washer. You will notice how the wood lightens up as you wash it. Clean the wood methodically until the wood will not lighten up anymore then move to the next section.

Once the wood is cleaned and rinsed off, apply a wood brightener to the surface. This will neutralize any cleaners that you used and prepare the wood for stain. The wood brightening process can help the new stain perform better so do not skip this step. After brightening the wood, rinse it well with fresh water and allow the redwood deck to dry for a couple of days.

When staining a redwood deck you want to have temperatures between 45-95 degrees. Ideal temperatures would be between 60-80. Try not to apply stain in direct sunlight. Be sure there is no rain forecasted for 12 hours after staining is complete.

It is best to stain a redwood deck using a brush, roller, or sprayer. Use whatever stain application tool suits you best. A perfect stain for redwood would be a semi-transparent penetrating stain. These types of deck stains dive into the wood grain to help block out damaging moisture and ultraviolet rays.

Be sure to stir the stain well prior to opening. Cover surfaces to protect them from stain drips and overspray. Use plastic to shield siding, windows, concrete, plants, etc. Start by staining all the deck rails and spindles. Take care to follow the stain manufacturer’s application instructions. Stain the redwood deck floor after the railings. Once you have started staining a decking board, finish it from end to end before moving to the next. Staining the entire length of a board at a time will help to eliminate lap marks. Lastly, stain any steps or stairs working your way down. Allow the redwood deck stain to dry for 24-48 hours before allowing foot traffic.

How to stain an old redwood deck is easy when you use the right tools, deck stain, and methods. Protecting an investment like a redwood deck is certainly worth the effort. A well-kept deck not only adds to the curb appeal and value of your home, but it also gives you and your family some nice enjoyable space to enjoy the outdoors.

Questions on Staining a Redwood Deck? Ask Below


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Ildiko
Ildiko

What is the color/brand of stain in the photo above that goes with this article? Also can Restore-a-deck stain a product for staining redwood deck?

Gary
Gary

One other question to go with the redwood table. Should the underside of the tabletop be sealed as well as the topside to prevent rot or mildew. or does the wood need to breathe. Regarding the question about using TWP 1502 or the Defy Extreme, I also have some railing to seal, and didn’t want to have to get two different products. Since both products are near the same price, would just like to know which one would work on both surfaces. After reading your site and countless others, I haven’t seen anything other than, “An alkaloid semi-transparent penetrating stain should be used on redwood tables, which would be the Defy choice. Maybe for the health risk of an oil based product being on a surface that will be around food. Or is the risk gone once the product cures or dries.

Gary
Gary

For staining an outdoor redwood table, is it safe to use an oil based sealer like TWP 1502, or a water based sealer like Defy Extreme.

Sean
Sean

I’m refinishing both a redwood deck. I’m leaning toward Restore-A-Deck stain (perhaps the whole system because (1) you rate it highly and (2) being water based, it seems to be much better environmentally and in terms of clean up. However, I can’t seem to find any pictures of exactly what each tone option of this product looks like specifically on redwood. I also notice you recommending other things on this redwood-specific page. Is this product less idea for redwood in some way? If it’s fine, could you point me to color examples specifically on redwood? (btw, a site that offered high quality controlled lighting pictures of specific stains on specific woods would be a really great resource – please steal this idea) If that already exists, please tell me where!
Thanks for any thoughts!

Pamela
Pamela

We are having a new redwood deck built and will be staining in a few months. It is clear from your advice that only the exposed boards should be stained, leaving at least one side unstained to allow the wood to breathe. How does this apply to the railings and rail posts? I attached pics, if it helps. Thanks!

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Teresa Reynolds
Teresa Reynolds

We have a 4 year old 1435 sq ft Heart Grade B redwood deck in No. CA that receives all day sun. We have sanded, power washed and brightened the deck and railings each time we apply stain. For the last two applications, we used Benjamin Moore’s Sansin and it peeled on the walking surface within 6 months of application, both times. Any recommendations on what to use?

Bettina Ferrando
Bettina Ferrando

I have a new redwood deck and wanting to seal and protect it. My builder recommended clear coat penofin but after reading the comments below, i’m worried about the black issue. I would like it to grey slightly. Would you recommend Armstrong clark stain, semi-transparent, oil-based in a clear stain? Should I redo it every year to maintain it? I live in Sausalito where we get some fog and some parts of the deck don’t see the sun during winter so likely to stay wet.
thanks for your amazing help and tips!

Ryan
Ryan

I’m in Southern California and I am having a couple redwood gates installed and would like to enhance the color of the redwood without it looking too red. I like the color of the stain in the photo on this page. Can you recommend a stain/seal product and color? Also, would you recommend transparent vs semi-transparent? Thanks.

Loretta
Loretta

Can we use TWP 1530 Natural over TWP 1500 Clear on our redwood deck? We put Clear on 2 years ago and recently powerwashed the deck. We are thinking a little pigment will give the redwood some UV protection vs the Clear which doesn’t have it.
Thank you

Robin talerico
Robin talerico

Our red wood deck is 23 yrs old, it’s been featured in a magazine for it’s sun burst effect. We just sanded it and it’s beautiful still. I just want a clear coat of stain. In th he past we used Sikkens. I feel Sikkens covers too much, like paint. Any ideas

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C Hewitt
C Hewitt

Is there anything that should be done to cracks or splits in redwood before applying the stain or sealant? My deck is four to five years old and overdue for a refinishing. Thanks

L Plendl
L Plendl

Thank you for this amazingly informative website! We are installing a very clear grade horizontal redwood fence. It's a mix of sap & heart wood on smooth kiln-dried wood (to mask part of a block wall). In terms of "the look," we'd like a nice richness and a beautiful soft sheen light to medium in color. Would you recommend Armstrong or TWP or something else? Many thanks!

Chris H.
Chris H.

This is a great website thanks for putting it together. We have a redwood deck that is 17 years old and I am in the process or pressure washing off the blackened Penofin stain that was put down about 5 years ago. I see in this thread that you say Penofin will typically blacken, wish I would have known that before. One unique thing in my situation is that the entire surface is in deep shade and rarely sees any sunlight. What is you recommendation for this condition? I'd like to be able to see the natural grain and add some color without having to do this every few years.

Paula Katz
Paula Katz

Hello, this is Paula Katz again. Last night I sent you a long comment with lots of questions. You no longer have to answer those questions. I contacted Armstrong Clark, and they answered all my questions sufficiently, and they are located in Sonora California and sell their products in San Francisco, so we can pick up samples and gallons of the stain quickly. You recommended Armstrong Clark in enough replies to other comments that I am comfortable going with them. I really appreciate all the time and effort you put in your website. It has been very very helpful. And I am sorry for sending you such a long comment last night. I feel a bit overwhelmed when I am addressing a new topic and have to make lots of decisions. So thanks again. Paula

Paula Katz
Paula Katz

Hello, We live in San Francisco. In 2014 we replaced most of our back deck and steps with kiln dried clear heart redwood because with my deck abutting my neighbor's house, the SF Building Inspectors would give us a permit only if we used the clear heart redwood or cut back the deck by two feet. After researching stains, but somehow missing your website, we decided to use Penofin Ultra Premium Red Label Transparent Redwood stain. Because we spent so much for the beautiful clear heart redwood, we wanted to be able to see as much of the redwood as possible, so we went with the transparent redwood stain with some color in it, and the deck looked beautiful. But the deck turned black fairly frequently from mold/mildew, and whenever we cleaned it, it didn't take long to turn black again. Although our lumber yard said that we should re-stain the deck every year, the Penofin folks insisted that we did not need to re-stain the deck yearly, and that we should do it every 2 years, even though I told them that we live in San Francisco four blocks from the Pacific Ocean, and our deck faces the Pacific. We followed their advice. The deck gets black from mildew/mold fairly frequently in our weather conditions. We just cleaned it last week and found nearly all traces of the stain was gone. We are looking for a new stain, and we will stain it more frequently. And because my painter last week used a combined wood cleaner and wood brightener that did not remove all the mildew and what little remained of the Penofin stain (which he said would require stripping the wood), my new painter is in the process of sanding down the deck and steps to the original redwood to remove all remaining stain and mildew, and once again it is starting to look like the beautiful brand new redwood that we installed. So we researched stains again and luckily found your website, and I have read quite a bit of the information, although after awhile it begins to blue. We want to use an oil-based stain, and it appears from your website that the two best stains would be TWP 1500 and Armstrong Clark. We have a few questions because now we need to pick the stain, determine whether to use transparent or semi-transparent, and to pick the color. As I said, we live in San Francisco four blocks from the Pacific Ocean. Our deck and steps face west. A good deal of the year, it is foggy and moist from the Pacific. Other times, it is sunny, and the deck and steps get direct sun those afternoons. (Our sunsets are beautiful!). Often my deck is moist in the morning with dew. And there always is the salt from the Pacific Ocean. We also have competing desires. As others have mentioned, on one hand, we want the rich color of the clear heart redwood, which we paid… Read more »

Jim
Jim

How about an 8 year old redwood deck that has not had anything done to it? Where to start?

A Jones
A Jones

For new redwood deck is oil-based or water-based stain better or does it not matter?

zeke
zeke

building new redwood deck, have redwood heart 4 by 6, it is beautfui wood and would like to have natural color come thru
is Thompson water seal ok for this?? I got some other one that says it is transparent but turns the wood orange?? I'd appreciate any tips or products to help this new wood seal and look great!! thanks

Timmy
Timmy

I just built a new deck with ur normal treated lumber!! I love the deck stain in the pic above!! Is that Redwood stain and will the wood I use look very similar to that pic with whatever stain was used in that pic above??

Stephen Crockett
Stephen Crockett

I have approximately 1000 sq. ft. of Redwood deck that needs refurbishing. What would you recommend as the best way to apply the:
1) Deck stripper
2) Deck brightener
3) Deck stain

Jodi
Jodi

We just installed a redwood deck in Colorado. We need to sand down the joints because some of the joints are high. If we let the wood weather will the stain take different on the sanded spots. Also, what type of stain do you recommend for my area?

Kevin
Kevin

I am just completing our redwood deck. I want to seal the deck, but not necessarily stain the deck. I have used sealers on other projects in the past that left an oily residue and collected a tremendous amount of dirt (I want to avoid that on this deck). Eventually I ended up putting a clear urethane sealer over it that seemed to work well but I wasn't sure if that was the proper product for a redwood deck. Any insight would be appreciated.