how to paint your deck

How to Stain Your Deck in 7 Easy Steps

It’s getting warmer here in Southern Idaho, and that means we’re gearing up for coffee on the front porch and grilling on the back patio! But what if your deck needs a makeover after a rough winter? If you’ve never stained a wooden deck before, don’t worry: it’s not as daunting as you may thing! Wooden decks in genera require regular maintenance due to them being a natural material that’s constantly exposed to the elements.

Here’s what you need:

  • High-quality wood deck stain (preferably oil-based)
  • Quality brush, 2″-3″ width
  • Canvas drop cloth (5×8 or larger)
  • Paint pad and pole
  • Paint pad tray
  • Rubber gloves

Quick Tip: If possible, choose a cloudy day with moderate temperatures to do your staining. Applying stain in harsh direct sunlight can make it difficult to avoid lap marks since the stain will dry so quickly.

Getting started:

1. Make sure the deck is clean.

This includes removing furniture, toys, grills, decorations, and plants. Sweep the dust clear of any major debris, and don’t forget to sand it!

2. Plan Your Exit.

Don’t stain yourself into a corner! Be sure you plan your exit off the deck ahead of time. You can either start at the house and work outward or begin at the steps and work back towards the house. This is up to you but be sure you have a plan in place ahead of time!

3. Start with the Handrail.

Once the wood’s been sanded, start staining with the handrail or the highest part of the deck so that any drips will not fall on finished stain work. Make sure to get the edges and underside of the handrail too!

Quick Tip: When staining, you’ll want to maintain a wet edge to provide a smooth, blended stain appearance without dark spots as a result of overlapping. To do this, just brush the stain into the wet area and blend by back-brushing.

4. Stain Posts and Horizontal Members.

Once you finish the handrail, stain the vertical and horizontal members of the deck rail system. Use the same back brushing technique here.

5. Stain Under the Handrail.

Be sure you get all the corners of the underside areas and other places that aren’t immediately visible.

6. Use a Canvas Drop Cloth to Protect the Deck Surface.

As you prepare to stain the actual deck surface, make sure to use a drop cloth under the stain-pan and pad loading area. A heavier-weight canvas drop cloth is better than plastic because a canvas drop cloth will not blow around as easily. They also come with a plastic or rubber lining on the back side to prevent any soaking through.

7. Stain the Deck Surface with a Pad Applicator.

Staining the deck surface can be done a number of ways. You can use a pressurized sprayer, but if it’s even a bit breezy, you run the risk of also staining the side of your house! You can use a brush, but this requires you to kneel and bend over for hours at a time. Finally, you can use a large pad applicator which is the best approach. The paint pad applicator provides a nice, even coating of stain and covers large areas quickly. The only downside is this method doesn’t always get the cracks between the deck boards, so you may want to use a brush to get these areas.

The Completed Project. Once complete, your deck should be good for 1-3 years. Use paint thinner or mineral spirits to clean your tools after staining with oil-based paint. Let the deck dry for 24 hours and you are on your way to a beautiful barbecue with friends and family this summer!