Stain All Sides of Deck Board 4/5 (2)

This post was updated on January 16, 2024

How to Stain All Sides of Deck Board? has become the Internet’s go-to resource for all things exterior wood surface restoration-related. As before, we recommend you reconsider how important it is to stain all sides of the deck board, as it can be an unnecessary hassle and can create issues with dry rot. We encourage customer interaction on our site, so feel free to leave us a comment below and include pictures of your project.

Do You Need to Stain All 4 Sides of Deck Boards?

Many people have asked whether or not it is necessary to stain all 4 sides of deck boards. To answer this question let’s first take a look at why deck boards need to be stained at all.

When wood is exposed to the elements it can go through all sorts of changes. Wood is very absorbent by nature so whenever it gets wet it soaks up the moisture. This creates the wood to swell. As the wood dries it shrinks back to normal size. This repetitive swelling and shrinking begin to damage the wood causing cracks, splinters, and warping.

Furthermore, when the horizontal surfaces of a deck like the top handrails and decking are exposed to harsh UV rays the wood begins to turn gray. The top surface of wood fibers are actually being damaged and becomes soft. Prolonged exposure to the sun without protection will also start to break down the wood and cause permanent damage.

This is why it is important to provide the wood with weather protection by coating it with a deck stain. As far as staining all 4 sides of deck boards it really depends on personal preference. Obviously, the bottom sides of deck boards are not going to be exposed to UV rays. Most of the time the undersides of boards are also not going to get wet from rain or other means.

The issue with staining all 4 sides of deck boards is that it becomes more trouble than it is worth. Once the deck boards are in place and have dried out for a few months the exposed sides of the decking should be stained as well as the gaps in between each board. So essentially, 3 sides of each deck board are being protected. Most experts do not find it necessary to stain the bottom sides of the deck boards.

In some instances, staining the bottom sides of deck boards may be done simply for appearance. An elevated deck, for example, would have a more exposed bottom side and for aesthetic purposes could be stained but certainly is not necessary. Another issue with staining all 4 sides of deck boards is time and cost. To stain the bottom sides of deck boards can be very labor-intensive and it will double the amount of stain you have to purchase.

In summing up, it is not necessary to stain all 4 sides of deck boards. But you definitely want to stain all the exposed wood like the top and sides of each board to reduce weather damage.

Please Ask Any Questions Below

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8 months ago

Does staining all four sides trap eventual moisture and cause premature pealing/ chipping of top/exposed board?

Levi Frederick
Levi Frederick
1 year ago

I am replacing all the wood on a picnic table with common redwood from home depot. Im planning on staining with armstrong 100 semi transparent sierra redwood.

Should i let this wood weather for 3 months? It is an unsual dimension and i think its been sitting at the store for a year or so.

After weathering, should i use a cleaner?

Will it cause any harm if i stain all 4 sides and the ends of the wood for asthetic purposes?

Alan Dolphin
Alan Dolphin
2 years ago

Do the ends of boards need to stained?

antoinette norton
antoinette norton
4 years ago

We just had a deck installed by Lowes in June with treated wood. We live in NC and it’s very hot and humid. After install we noticed lots of cracks appearing in the wood. We will be using Cabot stain. Should we be concerned about the crack wood and have them replaced before staining? Thanks and advance for your response.

Antoinette Norton
Antoinette Norton
4 years ago

Thanks for the quick response. We r experiencing hot weather is it okay to stain in the evening or early morning. We are using Cabot Timber oil base stain. We will be applying one coat this season. Should will seal the deeper cracks with wood putty or let it stay as is?

One last question what is the best method to remove the ink off the wood.


5 years ago

I am repairing some rotted cedar boards and have a question about this particular article. This may seem like a basic question (I am a novice), but how do you stain the ends and sides of a board once you have screwed it down? After the waiting period, do you have to remove the board to apply the stain so that it gets to the sides and ends of the board? I am replacing some cedar boards that have rotted, and notice that the ends of the cedar boards seem to be especially susceptible. I am in Austin, TX.

7 years ago

Had a new pressure treated pine deck installed in Oct 2014 – now starting to gray. Live in Monroe, MI. Very humid as we are near a lake. Would like UV protection (deck is sunny 'til 2pm) and a lighter stain color which somewhat shows the grain. Which product to use? And for prep / cleaning, what to use? We have approx 900 sq ft. Thanks!

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