Easy Tips for How To Stain a Deck

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Learn how to stain a new deck. Stain is a good way to protect your deck and keep it beautiful for years to come.

You might also be interested in reading about how to install a modern deck railing.

pin image -how-to-stain a new deck

New pressure-treated wood should not be stained or painted for at least 6 months. More than 6 months have passed since we built our deck last summer, so it was time.

Is your new deck ready to be stained or painted?

There’s an easy way to tell if your deck is ready to be stained or painted. If it gets wet, does the water sit on top of the wood or does it soak in?

  • If it sits on top of the wood, you have to wait a bit longer. Think about it for a moment. If water sits on top of the wood, how is stain supposed to soak into it?
  • If the water soaks in, you’re good to go! The stain will be able to penetrate the wood and protect it from the elements.

Note: We just updated our deck with paint! Check it out!

How to Stain a Deck

Supplies Needed

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When you choose stain, make sure that you choose outdoor stain for decks. Furniture stain will not last (and is way more expensive.)


  1. As with all projects, prep work is the key to a nice job! Since we were starting out with unstained wood,  there were no old finishes to remove. Because we built the deck ourselves, there was still a bit of sanding left to do. We used a belt sander on areas where there was a bit of a bump and a finish sander on areas where we just needed it smoother. We also had small gouges from our dog jumping onto the deck, so we made sure to sand those as well. staining a deck
  2. Plan for a time frame with a few days of sunshine. You need nice, dry weather to complete the project.
  3. Cleaning was pretty easy. Every deck cleaner has its own instructions, so be sure to check the bottle. Ours said to apply it, let it sit, scrub with a scrub brush where necessary, and then rinse. My husband poured the bottle of deck cleaner into a tank sprayer, mixed it with a bit of water to make the application go faster. I scrubbed the dirtier places where it was necessary. The deck cleaner is working even if it doesn’t look like it is. ***Note: It is not recommended to use straight bleach or a power washer for this step.) When we were finished scrubbing it clean, we rinsed it with the water hose. cleaning a deck
  4. Let it dry. This part was agonizing for me. It poured rain (despite a clear forecast when I checked) for 3 days and then just as the deck was dry, the water softener washout system kicked in and poured water all over the deck. (Note to husband: reroute that pipe ASAP.) We placed a few fans on the areas and also let the sun dry the deck.
  5. Allow yourself plenty of time to get the job done. Yes, cans of stain say that it can be sprayed on so that sounds fast. It didn’t work very well for us. My husband tried ours with disastrous results. It didn’t spray evenly because the stain is so thick. So then he tried the stain pad and it didn’t do very well, either. It was splotchy and ugly.
  6. If you roll it using a paint roller, don’t slop it on. Once again, this was probably due to my husband rushing. The coverage was better, but it was still too thick looking. It should be smooth.staining a deck
  7. Sometimes you just have to break out a brush and do it the old-fashioned way. You’ll have to use a brush to get the cracks anyways. Painting the other boards didn’t take too much longer. Yes, it took several hours and I had a claw hand, but the deck looked 500% better. I binged on podcasts and enjoyed my time in the sunshine.
  8. Let it dry and apply a 2nd coat. I still have a few spots where I need to go back and get.
stained deck

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my newly painted deck. It is protected from the elements and should be lovely for years to come. Now we just need to get those rails on it.

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