How to Stain Your Deck like a Pro

So you’ve decided to tackle your deck staining project yourself – that’s great. If you want to get professional results, then you need to know how the pros do it. In just a few simple steps (and with a little patience) you can have a great looking deck – easy as 1-2-3. Here’s how – One, the deck needs to be cleaned thoroughly; two, a quality stain product needs to be used; and three, the application needs to be precise.

By far, the most important step in staining your deck like a pro is to get it clean. There are several products available to clean your deck. The most commonly used material, which is bleach, should be avoided completely. Bleach is not necessary to get the mold and mildew removed from your wood, and can damage your wood if not used properly. Most of the “deck cleaner” solutions at your local hardware store will work well and are easy to use. You can use a garden pump sprayer to get it on the deck quickly. Once your cleaning solution is on the deck, you’re going to need a pressure washer to finish the cleaning process and to rinse the deck thoroughly. Be careful, all you need is very low pressure to lift and remove the dirt, mildew and weathering. After the deck is cleaned and washed, one more step is necessary in the cleaning process – a brightening agent (in some stores it may be called an “after wash” or something similar). This can be sprayed on with the same garden pump sprayer. Again, this is the most important step of all – Get your deck really clean.

Once the deck is cleaned, it will need to dry (usually around 48 hours). Now, you’ll have much better success at professional results by using a quality stain product. A good oil-based semi-transparent stain is always going to be best; it will penetrate the wood better and look better for a longer period of time. Don’t let the labels on some products fool you – a flat surface like a deck floor is not going to last 6 years; it will need to be maintained before then. We recommend Ready Seal stain and sealer; it’s a high quality product and it’s really easy to work with. Doing it right the first time with the right product will make future maintenance much easier.

O.K. your deck is really clean, you have a quality stain product, and you’re ready to apply the stain. You’ll need a few things: 1) A garden type pump up sprayer (you can get a deck pump sprayer for around $20). The same pump can be used for washing and staining; 2) A 6’ x 9’ paint tarp (plastic will not work); 3) Several rags (stain is messy); 4) A good 3” or 4” brush; and 5) Paint thinner. The pump sprayer will allow you to stain your deck in record time. The paint tarp will be used to go over the rails so you can spray those too (this will save a bunch of time); it will also catch the spray as it passes through the rails. The brush is needed for around the house (you’ll need to brush out about 3’ from the house to avoid overspray). The rags and thinner are to clean up any messes that are made, and to clean your tools at the end of the job. Do both sides of the rails first, then the floor, working your way off the deck and down the steps.

As always, DFW Finishers will be glad to give you free consultation on your home projects, and teach you how to do it yourself. If you follow these easy 1-2-3 steps, you shouldn’t have any problems. You can tackle your deck staining project yourself and achieve professional results.