10 Tips for Deck Staining

Staining a deck is not an easy task, but you’ve come to the right place. Armed with proper preparation and a bit of know-how, you’ll be ready to tackle this large-scale DIY project.

 We want you to quickly enjoy a beautiful “new” deck, so we’ve compiled 10 of the most important tips for your project.

  1. Check the weather

Getting into this project only to have all your hard work washed away by rain would be a disaster. Give yourself a couple of sunny days before you apply the stain because wood stain doesn’t adhere well to damp wood and can crack and peel. You should plan to do this DIY when the forecast predicts at least two days of dry weather between 50° F and 90° F. You should also inspect your deck beforehand, if you see wood rot, immediately contact a deck repair sacramento service.

Low to average humidity also promotes faster drying. However, staining in direct sunlight can be a problem because the stain will dry before the wood can absorb it, so look for a happy medium.

  1. Get your surface ready

Depending on the year your deck was built, this is a step you should be able to do on your own. But, if your deck was made before 2004, most lumber was pressure-treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) to fight rot and insects. When you sand this wood, it releases toxic arsenic into the air and surrounding soil, so we suggest you hire a deck building and staining professional to help you avoid toxicity.

If your deck is more recent, grab your tools and get to work. You should sweep the deck and then sand away any splinters or rough spots. Remember to wear safety glasses and a mask to protect yourself from dust and debris. A putty knife should help you clean between the boards so that you’re working with a clean surface. You can pressure wash the deck, but you’ll have to let it dry for a few days, so keep that in mind.

  1. Do a test area

You would hate to finish the project and realize that you’re not in love with the color you chose. Test a small section of about 1 foot by 1 foot to make sure that you’re happy with the deck stain you’ve picked.

A tip for picking a good stain: each type of stain has its advantages, and the type of stain already on your deck will affect your choice. If the wood of your deck is already coated with a solid stain, you won’t be able to apply a semi transparent or clear stain on top of that because the solid stain plugs up wood pores. A solid stain, however, can be applied over any type of existing stain.

  1. Choose the right staining tools

Go with synthetic bristles if you’re going to use brushes. Natural bristles soak up water and won’t last the whole project. If you’d prefer to use a roller, use one with a nap (the length of the fibers that extend from the backing and carry the stain to the deck) that’s ¼ inch or shorter. You’ll get pooling if the nap is too long, which means you’ll waste stain and the finished product will look uneven.

You can also use a paint sprayer, but be sure to properly stir your stain before pouring it into the sprayer to avoid clogs. In the end, you’ll probably end up using a combination of multiple application tools, so just choose what’s most readily available or most convenient to you!

  1. Use a wood brightener

Often one of the easiest but most forgotten steps, a wood brightener will open up the surface of the wood to improve penetration, neutralize any stain strippers that were used, and restore the appearance of old, weathered wood to look like new again. All you have to do is spray it on, wait for a few minutes, and then rinse it off. It’ll have a huge impact on the final look, so it’s worth the little bit of extra time.

  1. Apply the stain in thin, even strokes

Use long, smooth strokes to stain two or three boards at once. You should apply solid stains in thin coats and go even thinner with semi transparent stains or clear sealers. Applying with thin coats prevents puddles, which don’t soak into the wood and cause the stain to flake off when dry. No matter the type of stain you use, apply two coats to make sure there are no missed spots and to get a more consistent finish.

If you apply too much stain, the excess will linger slightly above the surface and prevent moisture from leaving the wood. If this moisture can’t evaporate, it will remain on the surface and begin peeling away the stain.

  1. Start with the railing first

Just like mopping the floor, you want to start with the section of the deck farthest away from you and work inward toward your door or an exit. You don’t want to block yourself into a corner and then have to undo your hard work by walking across it.

  1. Be careful not to stop on the freshly applied stain

We know this one seems obvious, but you’ll be tempted to fix spots that you missed the first time around. If you step on the stain before it’s dried, you’ll ruin your hard work.

  1. Let the stain dry all the way

You might be tempted to add another coat before the first has completely dried, but make sure to follow the specific instructions on the stain you bought. Remember the weather and if it’s been a bit damper than you expected, give it a few extra hours.

  1. Go over your stain with sealant

Deck sealants will both waterproof your deck and protect it from UV rays, so if you don’t bother to seal your deck, you’re leaving it vulnerable to rain, snow, sleet, dew, and sun damage. Resealing your deck once a year is a good rule of thumb for ensuring the longevity of your stain.

Final thoughts

If you’re planning a deck staining project, these 10 tips should prepare you for a successful DIY! It’s a big project, but if you take it step-by-step, you’ll soon be enjoying a beautiful deck just in time for the upcoming summer months. At Best Vinyl Fence and Deck, we can help you pick out the best deck materials for any project, so give us a call today.