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Stain All Sides of Deck Board 4.9/5 (18)

Should I Stain All Sides of Boards or Just Exposed Sides?

A common question when it comes to staining a wood deck is whether or not you have to stain all the sides of the deck boards including underneath.

Normally a deck floor is only stained on the exposed side facing up. This helps protect the boards from UV fading and water damage. The underside of a deck obviously is not going to be subjected to any harsh UV rays but what about moisture?

Moisture and water damage can be a problem especially on the exposed side of a deck where rain constantly hits the boards and may even puddle up allowing it to be absorbed. On the underside of a deck, the boards are not being pelted with rain but they can get slightly wet during a good downpour. The problem with staining deck boards underneath is that it is almost more trouble than it is worth.Unless you are staining all the sides of each board as the deck is being built, staining the underside of an existing deck can be very labor intensive, time consuming, and expensive. In addition, some areas of the underneath boards will still not be stained. Anywhere a deck board rides above or comes in contact with a support beam or floor joist you can’t even see, let alone stain.

There has also been some debate as to whether or not staining all sides of deck boards can actually trap moisture. There are various opinions about this but all boards by nature have moisture in them and should be able to breathe. So it makes the most sense to stain only the top exposed portions of a deck board where it is prone to sun and rain damage.

One reason you may want to stain all sides of deck boards is for aesthetic purposes especially on an upper level deck. When the underside of an upper level deck is exposed it can be more of an appearance issue when concerning yourself with staining the bottom side of a deck.

In our experience, staining only the exposed sides of deck boards is sufficient in protecting the wood from heavy traffic and weather. It is common however to stain the underside of any deck steps, exposed beams and supports they may be more noticeable. In some cases, if a deck owner is willing to do the work or pay for it, staining the underside of deck boards especially on elevated decks is more personal preference than anything and certainly is not necessary.

Question on Staining All Sides of Deck Boards? Please Ask Below

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10 responses to “Stain All Sides of Deck Board”

  1. Morgan says:

    Is your recommendation the same for a deck that is only about 2 ft off the ground. Our deck sits at the bottom of a slop against our house and is in the drainage path for our yard, so there is sometimes moisture on the ground. We were considering whether to seal the bottom of the boards before install. Thanks for any insight.

  2. Steve says:

    Our deck is elevated about 12'. I don't mind putting in the time if will extend the life of the deck. So is your rec time investment based or won't it extend enough to make it worthwhile.

  3. Dean Bennett says:

    I am replacing the top of the wood deck with cedar, and removing the treated wood. We will be staining with a transparent product. Would it be a good idea to stain the framework of the deck(treated and has been several years}, as long as it is all now exposed. This would be to just protect it again from the agents of rain and snow, or moisture in general.

  4. Mike says:

    We are removing sickens from our deck and staining with a penetrating stain. Should we remove the previous coatings from all sides?


    Redwood deck that we have needs staining again. We do this about every 4 to 5 years. We are getting older and want to roll the stain on. We can't get it onto the sides of the boards. How can we do this? Is there a "roller" that has something on it to get in between the boards. Or deck is just over 25 years old.

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*This is first and foremost a help site from our experience as wood restoration contractors. All stain and prepping manufacturer directions were followed with our reviews and ratings. We offer no guarantee of similar results. Take in consideration that wood and deck stain results may differ due to prepping procedures, different wood types, exposure to UV radiation, natural weathering, etc.