Deck staining 101

I decided to make a quick but informal post about home owners staining their wood decks.  There’s been a lot of fuss over composite decking lately because of the claim that they’re “maintenance-free”, although see my article on composite decking for more info.  I briefly walked over when you should stain your deck or fence in an article so I thought I’d cover the process of staining here.

Wood decks require maintenance because of their constant exposure to harmfull UV rays, heavy foot traffic and build up of moisture with little drainage.  Depending on your climate, I would suggest staining your deck 1-2 times a year while doing a full clean and stain every 3-4 years (seems like a lot of work but it’s time well invested).

Before you put your first coat of stain on- clean your deck of all debris and give it a light power wash.  Be carefull not to get too close to the wood with the power washer, 2000 PSI can easily damage lumber at a close distance.  If you still aren’t satisfied with the cleanliness of your deck, go to your local hardware and purchase a wood cleaner.  Follow the directions and wash the cleaner off. 

*Notes: The fastest way to stain usually isn’t the best way.  If you don’t have experience with a compressor powered air sprayer, don’t use this to stain your deck (speaking frfoom experience).  You’re better off doing it right- then having to clean, and re-stain it.

1- Go to your local hardware and pick up a stain that blends in well with it’s surroundings.  I prefer Cabot.

2-  Tape plastic sheets over areas surrounding your deck to make sure the stain doesn’t spread where it shouldn’t.

3-  You can apply your stain 1 of 2 ways :

A- (usually for transparent stains) Buy a garden sprayer from your local hardware (about $30) and use it to apply stain.

B- Brush it on with a non-polyester brush (follow the stain manufacturer’s instructions).

4-  Start from top to bottom, make sure all cracks and crevices are filled because you will notice them once the stain dries.

5- Plan your exit, don’t trap yourself on your deck!