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How to Stain a Deck – A First Timer’s Guide

Q: I just bought a home with a deck and I want to give it a makeover. Can you give some tips on how to stain a deck for someone who has never stained anything before? Thanks!      
A: A quick deck refresh can really make a home feel like your own. All it takes is the right staining prep work to make your deck look gorgeous. Follow the guide below for a beginner’s guide on how to stain a deck.

Inspect your Deck

First, inspect your deck for any imperfections, such as the following:

  • Broken screws
  • Warped pieces of wood
  • Broken pieces of wood
  • Nails that are raised above the surface

After you finish inspecting the deck, you may have to remove or fix certain flaws. Repairing may be an option when dealing with broken wood. Make sure broken screws are replaced, raised nails are hammered into the wood and that wood imperfections are remedied. 


Next, you'll need to clean the deck. If you properly clean your deck every year, it shouldn't be very difficult to get your deck ready for stain. For  first timer, deck cleaners are great at removing dirt and stains that may have been caused by mildew, algae and mold.

Be sure to follow all safety precautions and application instructions that are printed on the product label. Scrub your deck with a mop that has stiff, hard bristles after you apply the product. Once you've scrubbed the deck, wash away the residue with a pressure washer. Allow your deck to dry before moving on to the next step. The cleaner your deck, the better and more consistent your stain will look. 


It's time to move on to staining. First, use standard painter's tape to block off any surface that you don't want the stain to adhere to.

You should use a roller brush or sprayer to apply a steady coat of wood stain. If you see that too much stain has been used in an area, use a roller or brush to smooth it out.

Wait for It to Dry

Your deck stain will take about 24 to 48 hours to dry. Read the instructions on the product label to ensure that you're following the directions correctly. The time that it'll take for the stain to dry will depend on the temperature and humidity in your location.

Learning how to stain a new deck is easy and the results you get will last for years to come as long as you take care of your wood and perform routine annual maintenance.

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