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How to stain a deck

Staining a deck adds flavour and creates an aesthetically pleasing look to the wood texture of your deck’s surface. On top of helping the appearance of your deck, the wood stain also helps waterproof the deck which protects it from rain. The water can warp the wood and affect the state of your deck. Staining your deck can be hard but it doesn’t have to be. As a beginner, you can stain your deck within 2-4 hours, which is a weekend morning and you will be done before lunchtime. Have a look at our step-by-step guide on how to stain a deck. Contact Living Construction for more information.

Tools Needed Materials Needed
Pressure washer
Brushes to scrub the deck cleaner
80-grit sandpaper
Any garden hose to clean the surface
Wood and deck stain (a combination of stain and sealer)


Select the Stain that You Desire to Use and Also Check the Weather for The Day so That Possible Rain Doesn’t Harm Your Hard Work

Attempt a basic test to check whether your deck repels water or needs staining. Scatter some water on the wood: if the wood retains the water within 10-minutes, it is suggested to start planning the staining of your wood quickly. If the water gathers on the surface, you have more time to stain your deck at a later point if you would like. If your deck is newly built you can immediately start to stain, however, if not, you have to clean the wood and allow it to completely dry for a day before you begin.

It is ideal to not apply the stain under the direct sun rays as the stain dries quickly, making it a tough job for you. On the off chance that your deck has been recently stained, note that an oil-based stain can be applied over a water-based stain, however, a water-based stain cannot be applied over an oil-based stain. Apply a stain that would be water repellent and protect the wood.


Prep the Surface

Eliminate all decorations or furniture that is on your deck. Assess the decking wood, fixing defects such as splinter, holes and replacing any missing nails or screws the deck could have required. Sand parts of the deck that could have splintered with at least an 80-grit sandpaper. Clear away dirt residue and garbage, including between the deck sheets. In the event that there are plants close by the deck, cover them with a canvas or sheeting to shield them from any stain getting on them.


Wash Your Deck

You’ll need to clean the deck sheets to wash away any dirt before you stain the wood. Wash the wood with a deck cleaner and allow it to soak for a couple of minutes before scrubbing it away. Then allow the wood to completely dry for 24 hours before you stain your deck./p>


Start with Staining the Railings and Posts

Prior to applying the stain, utilize painter’s tape to secure zones like the house walls to prevent from any stain getting on there. Then clear the deck with a broom of any potential garbage or leaves that could have accumulated during the days it was drying. After you have tested the stain on a small patch and are sure it is the stain you would like to use, start staining easier parts of the deck first. Start with the railings and posts. Apply even layers throughout the stain to ensure it will look cohesive with the rest of the deck.


Time to Stain the Main Floorboards of The Deck

Before you begin, pick your exit point and start the staining process backwards so that you are not stuck and have to step on the stain to leave. Make sure to purchase a paint pad applicator. This will allow your stain to go on smoothly and is easier to handle to stain large floor spaces. Apply the stain in layers and start evenly and slowly, making long strokes. If you have trouble to stain in between cracks and other small areas, we suggest that you should use a paintbrush. Once complete, allow the stain job to dry for around 24-hours. Your deck is now complete and has been stained! The process could not have been easier!


Should you pressure wash the deck before staining?

Yes. Pressure washing can assist as a prep before you stain as it removes any dirt or grime that could have been in between the deck and interfered with the stain, however, you also need to use a deck cleaner before you pressure wash to help to further eliminate any grime or dirt stuck in between in the wood. Furthermore, make sure to preserve the wood from splintering and drying out after pressure washing and sand it down.

How many coats of deck sealer should I use?

2 coats. Depending on the aesthetic you may be going for – lighter or darker- it is typical for people to apply 2 coats of deck sealer to ensure it is being absorbed and protecting your wood. Though this may vary also on the fact on how much deck sealer your wood can absorb, which could be 1 coat if it is a denser material.

What happens if you stain over stain?

The previous coat has to be properly cleaned and sanded down and dried before adding the new stain job over top. Oil-based stain can be applied over water-based stain; however, a water-based stain cannot be applied over an oil-based stain. The older stain depending on how old could be lifting.

What happens if you put too much stain on a deck?

The stain itself takes longer to dry and it will be sticky due to the fact that the wood is unable to absorb the stain.

Can you stain over stain without sanding?

If you want to go from a darker stain to a lighter one, the old stain has to be sanded down. If the old stain has been coated with a sealed topcoat, it is also required for one to sand it down and as it will not absorb the new stain. If there is no sealant, if cleaned properly the deck can be stained without sanding.

Do you have to remove the old stain before re-staining?

Indeed, you should eliminate the old stain before you apply a new stain. Especially in the event that the stain on the outside of your deck is old the primary thing you ought to do is to completely remove the previous stain job and start over. This fresh foundation will provide the stain room to protect the deck wood.

Why is my newly stained deck sticky?

Staining your deck isn't the most straightforward assignment as there are loads of things that can turn out badly during the entire cycle. It very well may be that you applied your stain day on a day where it rained later on or you might have over-applied the stain, which left it sticky. Give the deck around an hour to truly absorb all the stain and afterward go over it with a wipe to dispose of any abundance of the excess stain.

Is it better to stain or seal a deck?

Both. Simply staining the deck will provide you with the colour you would like your deck to be. If not sealed the stain could wear off, especially if it is a space used most often. It is recommended to purchase a product that is a combination of stain and sealer. The seal protects the wood from any damage from the weather, allows it to be water repellent and protect it from the sun.

Can I stain the deck before it rains?

Do not stain your deck before it rains. Check the weather app to ensure it isn’t going to rain the day of and after you intend to stain the deck (24-48 hours). Allowing the deck to get wet prevents the stain from being absorbed properly into the wood and can cause it to also be sticky.

Should you put a sealer over stain?

If the stain you purchased is not a combination of stain and sealer which is a pigment, it is recommended to apply a sealer over the stain. Allowing the deck to be only the stain, especially if it is a high traffic area will only wear off the stain. Applying a sealer protects the stain and wood from any weather damage, water damage (as it makes the deck surface water repellent) and protects it from any sun damage from the rays.

How long does deck stain last?

On average deck stain should last you from three to five years. If you also applied deck stain to the sides and fences, it prolongs its life as sun and water cannot creep in through the wood in the fence. Weather damage such as the sun and water from the rain is the main source for wearing the deck surface so keeping it clean also assists in prolonging its life.


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Living Construction has been a leading renovations and home improvement company in Toronto for many years. Specializing in custom decks, porches, and landscaping, we have helped many homeowners across Toronto and the GTA get the home of their dreams, adding curb appeal and value to their property.

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