Staining your deck will keep it safe, well maintained and attractive. You should apply a fresh coat of stain every few years, or when the deck starts to show signs of wear and tear. Stain a deck by cleaning it, preparing the wood surface, and applying the stain.


  1. Paint pad
  2. Paint brush
  3. Paint tray
  4. Paint Pad Pole
  5. Paint Pad
  6. Drop Cloth - 9 x 12
  7. Scrub brush


  1. Painters Tape
  2. Deck Stain
  3. Deck Cleaner
  4. Deck Brightener


1. Sweep the Deck

Sweep the deck to remove any branches, leaves, pebbles, or other debris.

Sweeping Deck

2. Wash the Deck

Wash the deck with a deck cleaner. Deck cleaners are included in the materials list below. Follow the directions on the deck cleaner you choose to use. Some will require you to wet the deck before washing it, others will want you to apply the product directly to the wood. Allow the cleaner to soak into the deck according to the instructions. Rinse the deck after cleaning it if necessary.

Washing Deck

3. Treat the Deck

Treat the deck with a deck brightener if the wood is weather worn and can't be refreshed by stain. If your deck is in good shape and/or you will be using a heavier stain (strong or semi-strong that is more similar to a strong paint), it is not necessary to use a deck brightener.

4. Allow the Deck to Dry

Allow the deck to fully dry. Typically this will take around 2 days.

Deck Drying

5. Choose a Stain

When choosing a stain, pick one that is close to the shade of your deck, or a shade darker. Test the color on a small hard-to-see area of your deck to ensure that it is the shade that you need. A semi-transparent stain will show more wood grain. If you live in an area with high humidity, some stains are mold resistant.

Choosing Stain

How to Choose a Stain

Stain manufacturers use different terms (clear, semi-transparent, etc.) to describe the viscosity of the stain. The viscosity of the stain determines how much of the original deck grain and texture will show. In general, if the wood is in good condition and you want to keep the natural wood look, then use a clear stain. A semi-transparent stain with a little color will allow some wood grain to show through. A solid stain will provide complete coverage of the wood grain and will look like your deck is painted. It is recommended that you test the stain on a small portion of the deck to see how it will look. The type of stain you choose will make a big difference in the look of your deck.

6. Apply the Stain

To avoid air bubbles, do not shake the can. Mix the stain in the can with a paint stir stick. For difficult-to-reach areas like sides and corners, use a wide paint brush. Evenly apply the stain with the paint pad on 2 to 3 boards with even strokes. Use a smooth motion so that the stain spreads evenly and doesn't puddle. Keep brushing or rolling the stain until the whole deck has one coat.

Applying Stain

7. Drying Time

Allow the deck to dry for 2 to 3 days. If needed, apply a second coat.