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Applying Deck Stain

How to Apply Deck Stain Effectively

By Mark J. Donovan

If you have a wood deck you should plan on applying deck stain every other year. Due to rain and ultraviolet sunlight, deck stains fade and lose their ability to prevent water from seeping into deck boards relatively quickly.


Before applying deck stain it is important to prepare the deck in advance. This includes removing all items from the deck and then applying a deck cleaner to it.


After cleaning the deck check for damaged deck boards, or popped nails or screws. Replace any damaged or rotting deck boards, and replace popped nails or screws with slightly larger ones.


When applying deck stain it is important that the deck be thoroughly dry. Also, make sure that there is no rain in the weather forecast for at least 24 hours, and that the temperature is expected to be higher than 50o (F). If rain is in the forecast within 24 hours of when you plan to apply deck stain, hold off. The last thing you want is to have it rain just after applying the deck stain. I did this once and regretted it. The deck stain remained permanently sticky for nearly two years and it looked horrible.

Deck Installation Bid Sheet


When it comes to brushes make sure to use the right one for the particular type of deck stain you are applying. If you plan to apply an oil-based deck stain use a natural bristle brush. If you plan to apply a water-based deck stain use a nylon brush.


To apply deck stain, first start by staining the railings and balusters, if you plan to stain them as well. Apply a liberal amount to allow the stain to fully soak in. Do not however leave standing puddles of deck stain.


Once you have stained the railings and balusters, you can then move onto the deck floor itself. To apply deck stain in the most effective manner, start in a corner of the deck and work your way towards an egress, e.g. stairs or house entranceway. Again, apply a liberal amount of deck stain, but do not allow standing puddles. Standing puddles will end up pealing later. Also, apply deck stain so that you always keep a wet edge to avoid overlap marks. What this basically means is to limit the working area for applying the stain.

Applying Deck Stain

Photo by Mark Donovan


For example, do not cut around the entire perimeter of the deck and then go back and stain the middle of the deck. This will result in overlap marks showing up.


For most deck stains, one coat is all that is required. However, if you are using a very light deck stain, you may need to apply a second coat. If a second coat is necessary, make sure the first coat is thoroughly dry before applying the second coat.


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For help on building a new Deck, see HomeAdditionPlus.com's Deck Installation Bid Sheet. The Deck Installation Bid Sheet will teach your how to hire the right deck contractor, and help to ensure that your deck project is completed on time and budget.

How to Finance your Deck Project -  can help provide funds for your new home improvement project if financing is required.

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- Applying Deck Stain -

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