How to stain deck will take you through the process of staining your wood deck, step by step, so you have a great end result.

Materials Needed

There are many application tools that can be used to stain a wooden deck and they include a brush, pad (usually lambs wool), roller, airless sprayer, garden sprayer, hand mitt, and even a mop.

The three most common methods are brush, pad, and sprayer, so those will be covered here.

If using a brush, it is recommended you have a 4″ straight bristle brush for the floor and wide handrails and a smaller brush for hard to reach or narrow sections of wood. You should use natural bristles if using an oil base stain and nylon bristles if you use a water based stain.

You will need extra cloths, rags, or pads for soaking up excess stain, if needed, and for clean up.

Wear gloves and proper clothing – Protect against skin irritation by wearing a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and goggles.

A Few Rules Before You Start Staining

Here are just a few rules to follow to get a great looking stained deck.

First, your deck must be CLEAN and DRY before you start staining. Although there are many ways to clean your deck, the two most commonly used are power washing and using oxygen bleach.

Power washing will be a quicker clean with less physical effort, however, there is a disadvantage in that if used improperly, you could damage the finish of the wood, making it rough or fuzzy feeling. Check to see if your power washer delivers 1200 psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure or less. Using a more powerful pressure washer may harm the wood finish on your deck. Using a spray nozzle with a 25 to 40 degree arc and ensuring the nozzle is not too close to the wood will help to protect your soft wood grain.

Using oxygen bleach is often recommended for cleaning wood decks as it is non toxic and is a “clean” product. Use a stiff bristle brush with a broom-type handle and thoroughly scrub the deck surface with the oxygen bleach cleaner and water. Ensure a complete rinse and allow the deck to dry thoroughly before staining.

NEVER stop staining your deck in the middle of the project. Don’t think you can take a break and come back later to finish it. This will almost guarantee lap marks are left on your deck when it dries. Check that the weather will hold and clear your schedule to ensure you have a smooth stain finish.

Ready To Start

If your deck is large and you are using more than one can of stain, take a 5 gallon empty pail and pour all cans into the large pail. Mix thoroughly. This will insure uniform color over the whole deck.

Typically, you start at a house wall and move outwards towards the stairs or a safe exit.

FOR BRUSH AND PADS – Apply the stain to a few boards at a time and overlap your strokes. When a small area has been stained, move ahead of the previously stained area and brush back towards the area you already did and overlap. This will ensure an even blending of the stain.

FOR SPRAYERS – Spray application may be the easiest and quickest method when staining large horizontal deck surfaces. Either sprayer, airless power or pump hand-held, can be used. Before spraying, you will need to use a brush or pad to stain all house edges and small areas. When spray applying stain, it is important to back brush or back roll the wet coat. This will even out the finish and eliminates lap marks and drips.

Apply stain liberally to dry wood, two coats applied one after the other are ideal. This will allow the wood to soak up as much stain as possible. Do not allow the stain to puddle. You will need to remove any excess after 10 minutes or so. A separate, clean, dry applicator should be used for removing excess stain.

If you follow these steps, you will have a beautifully stained deck after just a few hours.

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