How to Stain an Outdoor Deck Properly

Published On: September 16, 20210 Comments on How to Stain an Outdoor Deck ProperlyTags: Last Updated: February 4, 20244 min read

A deck is vulnerable to damage and hazards when it has not been properly stained. From natural woods to pressure-treated lumber, a stained deck comes across as appealing and luxurious. When you stain, you seal in the grain of the wood. This sets the stage to repel water, thereby preventing the growth of mildew, mould, and premature rotting.

How to Stain an Outdoor Deck Properly

No deck stain will last forever. The stain is on a horizontal surface and is left outside year-round. Plus, decks get hit with all the elements. Add to that foot traffic, and it’s a perfect mix of elements causing wear-and-tear A high-quality deck staining usually lasts up to five years or longer. To keep your outdoor decks looking their best, an annual cleaning is something you may want to do. If you want to stain your outdoor deck, follow these steps:

Decide if a deck needs to be stained

Most homeowners question whether they should stain or paint a deck. Staining is considered more favourable to painting a deck. That’s because staining appears far more natural than paint on wood. Staining costs less than painting. Plus, it’s way easier to restain a deck than repaint. Another common point of confusion is whether staining is the same as sealing the deck. To clarify, a sealant isn’t staining. Sealing doesn’t penetrate like a stain does. Most deck experts will recommend a staining over resealing a deck. This is because the sealant is mainly surface-based. The sealant sits on top like a protective clear coat. When you stain something, by comparison, you work the solution deeper into the wood, giving it a deeper colour and lasting longer than a comparable sealant.

Choosing a stain

Stains come in different varieties. There are latex-based and oil-based deck stains, divided between semi-transparent, semi-opaque, and solids. Semi-opaque is quite popular as you get natural wood with some colour depth. A solid stain is often unadvisable as it resembles paint and is available in various colours. A solid stain can work well on most decks. Should you go with a solid stain, keep in mind that you can’t stain decking material with a lighter type of stain afterward.

Cleaning the wood

Pressure-wash your deck. Be careful when doing so. You don’t want to splinter the wood or put marks into the wood grain. A professional may be needed for this. When pressure-washing your deck, consider using a deck cleaner or diluted bleach. It will help remove all the dirt, dust, mildew, and old stain that water won’t be able to. Cedar and redwood are two examples of durable natural wood. Semi-transparent oil-based staining is often recommended for natural wood. For pressure-treated wood, this material is moisture-resistant. A solid oil-based stain or water-based stain works. For any sort of pressure-treated wood, wait until six months after installation. This is only because the material can shrink within this time frame and can potentially ruin the staining you do.

How to Stain an Outdoor Deck Properly - staining

Ensure the deck is ready

A deck should be dry to the bone. Two days of dry weather beforehand is recommended. After staining your deck, you should have two days of dry weather to seal everything. When getting your deck ready, tape and tarp off areas you want to be protected from spraying and dripping. You may find there are loose boards or rotting boards. You will need to replace these damaged boards. Any loose boards can be kept but have to be secured. Rotting boards should be replaced, however. With any other imperfections, you have to decide what you’re going to do. A stain will only work on a surface that’s been adequately prepared.

Apply the stain

Buy a high-quality staining product. Once you have it, test it on a board. Make sure it’s the appearance and colour you want. In case there are any discrepancies, you can see the result before applying the stain deck-wide. With a brush and roller, apply the stain to the deck. A brush will work the stain deep into the wood’s pores. It is the primary tool you will use to stain your deck. A roller can also be used to apply a stain evenly across the deck before using the brush to really dig it into the grain. Furthermore, ensure you follow any instructions given on the container label, including in temperature. One coat when staining a deck works, but two coats work as well. Two coats will get you a darker finish, so most deck experts recommend two applications. That said, a single coat is certainly fine. Allow your first coat to dry, and then make a judgment call on if a second coat is the route to pursue.

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