DIY Projects / Home Improvement

How to Stain a Deck

Give your outdoor space a makeover and protect it at the same time by learning how to stain a deck using this simple step by step guide.

how to stain a deck

If you’re like most homeowners, your backyard is probably one of the most popular places to spend your time – and for good reason.

Not only does a deck add beauty and comfort to your home, but it also provides an inviting space for entertainment and relaxation.

tips for staining a deck

With the right tools and material, and a little bit of elbow grease, you can easily transform your dull and worn out deck into a stunning outdoor space.

Here’s a simple step by step guide to staining a deck, with some tips to help you along the way.

If your deck is brand new, skip to the how to stain deck instructions.

Prep the Area

  • Remove patio furniture.
  • Protect your plants and landscaping from stain and overspray by covering with a tarp or plastic sheeting.
  • Mask off any areas you don’t want stained with masking tape and plastic sheeting such as your house, railings, or furniture.

Prepare the Deck

Before you even think about staining your deck, you first need to make sure it’s in the best condition possible.

  • Clean the deck well with a garden hose or pressure washer. Remove all debris, leaves, and branches.
  • Remove any loose or rotting boards.
  • Repair loose or broken screws and nails.
  • Sand the surface to help the stain adhere better and give it a smoother finish. Use a medium grit sandpaper (around 80-100 grit) and sand the entire surface of the deck.

Materials Needed

  • Deck stain – choose one that has a sealant already in it.
  • Plastic tarp – optional
  • Paint roller tray
  • Paint pole
  • Paint stick stirrer
  • Brush, roller, or sprayer (depending on your preferred method of application)
  • Sandpaper (120, 150, or 220 grit) – for a pre-existing deck

How to Stain a Deck

Choose a method to apply the stain that works best for you and your deck such as brush, roller or sprayer. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.

step by step guide to staining a deck

Apply stain. Starting at one end of your deck, roll, brush or spray the stain onto the surface in long, even strokes. Be sure to overlap your strokes to ensure full coverage.

Work your way across the entire surface of the deck, making sure to get into all the corners and crevices.

Allow the stain to dry. After you’ve applied the stain, give it plenty of time to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This will usually take at least 24 hours, depending on the humidity and temperature.

Application Tips

  • Test a small area first. Before you stain your entire deck, it’s a good idea to test a small area to make sure you like the color and finish.
  • Load the applicator with enough stain to cover the entire area you wish to stain. Make sure the applicator tips are covered in stain too, as this will help prevent drips and messes.
  • Apply pressure to the applicator while using smooth, even strokes. Don’t use too much pressure – too much force will result in blurred lines and uneven coverage.
  • Allow the deck to dry completely before walking on it or putting patio furniture on it.


How do I choose the right type of deck stain?

Consider the type of wood your deck is made of and what type of finish you want. Some stains are better suited for certain types of wood, and some provide different finishes (such as glossy or matte). It’s also a good idea to consider the climate in your area and whether you want a stain that is water-resistant or has UV protection.

How often should I stain my deck?

The frequency of staining your deck will depend on a few factors, including the type of wood and the type of stain you use. In general, it’s a good idea to reapply deck stain every one to five years. If you use a high-quality stain and maintain your deck regularly, it may last longer.

Can I stain my deck in the rain?

No, you should not stain your deck in the rain. The water can interfere with the drying process and affect the adhesion of the stain. It’s best to wait for a dry day with low humidity to apply the stain.

Can I apply a new coat of stain over an old one?

In most cases, it’s okay to apply a new coat of stain over an old one. However, it’s important to make sure the old coat is in good condition and fully dry before applying the new coat. If the old coat is peeling or flaking, it’s best to remove it completely by sanding and making it smooth before applying a new coat.

stain a deck

Can I use a pressure washer to clean my deck before staining?

Yes, a pressure washer can be a helpful tool for cleaning your deck before staining. Just be sure to use a low pressure setting and hold the nozzle at least 12 inches away from the wood to avoid damaging it. And allow to dry completely before staining.

How do I remove old deck stain?

If you want to remove old deck stain, it is going to be very time consuming and expensive. You may consider replacing with new wood and starting from scratch as you will need to either strip the stain or sand it all completely. There are also chances that the stain but not be removed entirely and could result in an uneven outcome.

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