Knowledge Builders

should a deck be stained

by Alfreda Klein DVM Published 1 year ago Updated 7 months ago

Since decks are most often built with wood it's very important to protect the wood from moisture. This is why staining your deck regularly is so critical to your deck upkeep. Staining your deck's horizontal boards and railings will help protect against moisture from soaking in.Aug 13, 2021

What do you need to know before staining a deck?

  • Stir the stain thoroughly before applying and pour into a paint tray.
  • Apply the stain to a test patch of wood to confirm that you're satisfied with its color and appearance.
  • Begin by staining the railings, posts and balusters with a paint brush or hand-held paint pad. Use long, even strokes.
  • Stain the inner and outer sides of the deck stair handrails.

How often is staining needed on a deck?

To keep a deck looking great and prolong the life of the wood, a deck should be stained every two to three years. Other signs your deck needs staining are: The deck has mold or mildew buildup. Water soaks into the deck boards and no longer beads up. The stain color is wearing off.

When is the best time to stain a deck?

When to Stain a Deck: 7 Tell-Tale Signs

  1. Water Soaks Through. The best way to know if your deck needs staining is to try the wood test. ...
  2. Wood is Faded. How does the current stain look? ...
  3. Splitting or Splintering Wood. ...
  4. Uneven or Peeling Wood. ...
  5. Wood Looks Dry. ...
  6. Loose, Rusted Screws. ...
  7. Wood Feels Spongy and Soft. ...

Does deck have to be dry before staining?

When you powerwash your deck, the wood will retain some moisture in it. If you do not allow it to dry completely, the stain may very well trap the moisture inside the wood. Under perfect drying conditions, forty-eight hours are good enough to dry the wood sufficiently for staining.


Is it worth staining a deck?

Staining a deck will lead to less work in the future. One of the main reasons the professionals don't recommend staining wood decks is because of the amount of time and energy involved. Stains don't generally last more than a year. This means yearly cleaning, staining and, if necessary, sanding of your deck every year.

Is it better to stain a deck or leave it?

If you don't stain your new deck, it will weather into a gray, rustic look. While you may like that look, it just means your wood is becoming more damaged by the day. Using stain will change the color of your deck, but make it last much longer.

Do you need to stain a wood deck?

Wooden decks require regular maintenance to help preserve its color, grain, and longevity. All year round, your deck is exposed to rain, snow, sleet, ice, and direct sunlight. It's important to restain your deck to help prevent the impact that these elements may have on the wood.

How long will a deck last if you don't stain it?

Which material lasts longer? A deck made of untreated wood can last anywhere from 10 to 30 years. Decks made of treated wood and composite materials can last as long as 50 years.

How much should it cost to stain a deck?

At an average cost between $3 and $5 per square foot, the biggest factor in the cost of staining a deck is the size. A 100 square foot deck will cost between $300 and $500 while a 500 square foot deck will cost between $1,500 and $2,500 in staining costs.

How much does it cost to stain a 12x12 deck?

The average cost to power wash, stain, and seal a deck is $1.57 to $4.04 per square foot. A 12x12 deck costs $226 to $582 to stain when paying someone, or $59 to $176 to stain it yourself. A gallon of stain costs $20 to $50, which covers 200 to 300 square feet.

Can I leave my deck untreated?

It is highly unlikely that the deck will rot, splinter or decay if you choose not to have it finished and you can always choose to stain and protect the deck at a later date. If you choose to revitalize the natural color of the wood, we recommend our two-step maintenance clean.

Is it better to paint or stain wood?

Stain protects and preserves the beauty of your wood compared to paint which covers and hides it. Stain wears away gradually for periodic re-coating. Paint peeling requires extensive scraping.

Does a wood deck need to be sealed?

A backyard deck can be the perfect platform for good times, but a wooden surface needs a proper sealant to protect it against the ravages of sun, rain, and temperature fluctuations.

What is the best product to protect a wood deck?

BEST OVERALL: Seal-Once Marine Premium Wood Sealer.BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Rust-Oleum Varathane Ultimate Spar Urethane Oil Based.PRESSURE-TREATED WOOD PICK: Thompson's WaterSeal Transparent Wood Sealer.BEST FOR WATERPROOFING: Thompson's WaterSeal Clear Wood Sealer.BEST WITH UV PROTECTION: Defy Composite Deck Sealer.More items...•

How often do decks need to be replaced?

A typical wood deck can last anywhere from 15 to 40 years. This will depend on the materials used and the quality of routine maintenance performed. However, if your deck is showing signs of age and is over 20 years old, you should begin considering a deck replacement.

What is the longest lasting deck material?

Aluminum and Steel Aluminum decking is the most expensive out of the deck material and will last the longest with a lifespan of 30+ years. Steel decking can have a lifespan of 60+ years when correctly installed by a professional builder.

Can I leave my deck untreated?

It is highly unlikely that the deck will rot, splinter or decay if you choose not to have it finished and you can always choose to stain and protect the deck at a later date. If you choose to revitalize the natural color of the wood, we recommend our two-step maintenance clean.

Do you have to stain a deck every year?

Typically, homeowners should restain horizontal surfaces such as decks every two to three years. Poor deck upkeep will decrease the time you have to enjoy the deck before restaining it, while good deck upkeep may give you another year or two before you need to restain the deck.

Is it better to stain or paint pressure treated wood?

Experts recommended that you stain pressure treated wood rather than paint it. The primary reason for this is that paint rarely adheres to pressure-treated wood very well because of the process used for the pressure treatment.

How often should a deck be stained and sealed?

three yearsFor most decks, sealing once each year is a good rule of thumb. Depending on the condition of your deck this can be adjusted, but keep in mind that you should never go beyond three years maximum before re-sealing and staining.

What is the most confusing thing about staining a deck?

Some of the most common choices are transparent, semi transparent, semi-solid, and solid stains. What is more confusing about staining or sealing your deck is that you cannot understand when you need to stain or seal your deck.

Do you need to re-stain a new deck?

However, if you can stain a new deck with good quality solid stain, you may need to re-stain less often.

Can you understand when to stain a deck?

What is more confusing about staining or sealing your deck is that you cannot understand when you need to stain or seal your deck. Following factors are important to keep in mind when it comes to stain or seal your deck.

Can a deck stain be washed away?

Typically, the stain is likely to be washed away if it is exposed to wet and humid weather condition.

Can you stain a deck if water soaks in?

However, if the water soaks into the wood quickly, you are in danger of splitting, twisting, and rotting. In that case, you may need to stain your deck.

Do you need to sand and bleach a deck?

You may also find blackened areas in your deck and you may need to sand, bleach, and clean to remove them. Those decks that are exposed to year-round sunlight or humidity will need to be stained and sealed more often since this would help you deck to keep up with the weathering process.

Why do you need to stain a deck?

Stain protects the surface of the wood through penetration. When you stain a deck, it is absorbed into the upper layers of the wood, providing a weatherproof barrier between moisture and UV rays and the interior of the wood. If you don’t stain your new deck, it will weather into a gray, rustic look.

Why Stain a New Deck?

Staining a new deck is critical to its longevity and protecting your investment. While you’ve most likely used treated lumber or cedar, which is guaranteed to stand up to the elements, no lumber lasts forever. However, you can make it last for a long time with regular staining.

What is the Best Time to Stain My New Deck?

Spring or fall are the best times to stain your deck. You want to avoid the temperature extremes that summer and winter offer, even if you live in a moderate climate.

When is My New Deck Dry Enough to Stain?

It is possible to stain your deck too soon. Pressure-treated lumber comes with more initial moisture than cedar because the treating process involves lots of moisture.

How Do You Prepare a New Deck for Staining?

The key to proper preparation is opening the pores of the wood so it will accept the maximum amount of stain.

How long does sealer last on a deck?

Sealer does not last as long as stain either, because it only stays on the surface of the wood. Therefore it deteriorates faster. This makes the reapplication of most sealers necessary after only 1 year. On the other hand, applying a sealer is about the easiest deck maintenance task you could do.

Why do people stain cedar?

An oil-based, semi-transparent stain is best because it maintains the natural look of the cedar while protecting it from moisture.

Why do you need to stain a deck?

A quality stain will seal the wood grain, so it prevents moisture from penetrating your deck and causing it to rot. A good stain generally provides better moisture retention than paint. Staining allows you to highlight the beauty of your wooden deck.

What to expect when staining a deck?

If you decide to stain your deck, you can expect that a professional will: Explain all of your choices. There are many considerations to make when staining a deck and a professional will discuss your options with you and give you expert, specialized advice. Prepare the deck for staining.

How long does a deck stain last?

An older painted deck will eventually need a new paint job, or you might consider stripping and staining it. Stain on a deck will only last a few years. As a homeowner, you’ll have to decide how to keep your deck looking its best. Proper maintenance is an unavoidable cost that comes with enjoying a gorgeous deck.

Why paint a deck?

Painting Your Deck. There are plenty of reasons to paint your deck, but you should know that it masks the detailed elements of the wood that make it unique. It lasts longer and comes with many color options, but it ensconces what makes your deck special. Paint provides a uniform look, which appeals to many homeowners.

How long does a deck last before repainting?

When you opt to paint your deck, you won’t have to refinish it anytime soon. A quality paint job, finished by a trusted professional, can last for ten years before needing repainting. Conversely, stains need reapplied every few years because they don’t offer the same protection against outdoor elements.

Why are decks so popular?

Decks are rising in popularity because of what’s happening indoors in many American homes.

What to do if painting doesn't fit the new vision for home's deck space?

If painting doesn’t fit the new vision for home’s deck space, consider staining.

How long does it take to stain a deck?

Although it can be done in a few days, staining a deck requires the proper cleaning, preparation and application processes to ensure a smooth, even finish.

How long does it take for a deck to dry before staining?

New wooden decks should always receive a coat of paint or stain. Generally, all new decks should dry out for at least 30 days before stain or paint is applied. Although a finish can be applied immediately after construction, more work is involved, so it’s best to let the wood fully dry before finishing.

How Often Should I Paint My Deck?

You should paint your deck as soon as it shows signs of peeling, bubbling, or flaking. However, while paint is great for finishing walls and vertical surfaces, we don’t recommend it for decks.

Why is my deck not looking good after being painted?

The horizontal surfaces on decks are exposed to the elements 24/7 and endure a lot of wear and tear, which is another reason why paint makes a poor deck finish. If your deck has already been painted, yearly maintenance should include lightly sanding the surface and applying a fresh coat of paint to any area where it begins to peel.

How long does pressure treated lumber need to dry before staining?

Pressure-treated lumber should be allowed to dry for at least six months before stain or any wood treatment is applied. A good test is to pour water on the boards. If it beads up, it’s still too wet. If the water soaks in, it’s ready for stain. Most lumber you buy at a hardwood store is kiln-dried.

Can you stain horizontal wood?

But for some homeowners, the color difference is subtle or it doesn’t bother them. If this is the case, you may be able to stain the horizontal surfaces, which typically show wear the soonest. Choose an oil-based stain to penetrate the wood and aid in repelling water.

Can you pressure wash a deck?

If you want your deck to look great and enjoy the peace of mind that the stain will last, give Five Star Painting a call. Our pressure washing services will prep the wood to ensure it’s clean. While we’re there, our carpentry services can make any necessary deck repairs.

What is deck stain?

Deck stain is a thin liquid that is easy to apply and forgiving of mistakes. All stains penetrate the fibers of the wood, leaving a thin layer of protective film above the surface. Because stains get below the surface of the wood, it is less affected by the swelling and contraction of the wood, which makes cracking and peeling ...

What is the best feature of deck stains?

The best feature of deck stains is that they are opaque and allow the wood grain to show through, and can even make the wood more appealing to the eye. This effect is reduced as you work up through the longer-lasting stains from opaque on up to solid stains that will almost entirely obscure the wood grain but offer better protection from the elements, with water beading off the surface instead of soaking into the wood.

How long does a stain last?

A high-quality stain can last up to 5 years, but the average lifespan is only 2-3 years.

What is a wood deck?

They provide a large open surface where family and friends can gather and enjoy the fresh air without worrying about tracking dirt back into the house. Decks are, in essence, an open-air family room. However, their very nature means that they require a level of protection and maintenance beyond what you would normally give to any other outdoor feature.

Is it better to paint or stain a deck?

Paint requires a great deal more preparation than staining but involves less maintenance over the following years and is easier to clean. Before you lay down your first coat of paint, your deck needs to be cleaned, sanded, treated with a fungicide, and coated in a primer. You can expect to spend at least double, if not triple, the cost just prepping the surface than you will for a stain.

Can you go back to stain after painting?

Once you paint, you can’t go back to stain. As you can see, paint vs. stain is six of one and a half dozen of the other. Which way you choose to go depends not upon the quality of the protection but rather on which pros and cons are most important to you.

Can composite decks be used instead of wood?

If the concept of any serious maintenance activity gives you hives, you may want to consider moving to a composite deck instead of natural wood. Composites won’t give you the glow of natural wood, but they now come in a variety of designs and colors and have their own unique beauty. Plus, they will never splinter, crack, warp, or peel, even if all you do is wash it down with a hose once or twice a year.

Staining a New Deck for the First Time

Every Spring we get many 100’s if not 1000s of questions about when to stain a new deck, wood fence, or exterior wood home. Outside of our Deck Product Reviews and our Best Deck Stain articles, this is the second most popular question on

Tips on How Long to Wait to Stain A New Deck

These new deck staining tips are relevant and will work for all exterior, new smooth wood, such as decks, cedar framed homes, log cabins, wood fences, and other wood structures.

The 3 Best Deck Stains For New Decks

Used for new wood and decks such as Pressure Treated Pine, Cedar, Fir, IPE, and other Exotic Hardwoods. Months to Weather New Wood: 2-3 Months for Transparent and Semi-Transparent colors.

New Deck Staining Questions

If you have any questions about this article on How Long Should you Wait to Stain a New Deck, please ask below.

Why do you stain under a deck?

In addition, leaves and other debris that collect under decks tend to encourage insects and fungi that may threaten your wood. Wood stain provides one more layer of protection between those threats and your deck. If the underside of your deck will be visible, as in the case of a second-story deck or balcony, you may want to stain it ...

Why do you stain a second story deck?

If the underside of your deck will be visible, as in the case of a second-story deck or balcony, you may want to stain it because you will be able to see it . These decks are also exposed to a wider range of elements than the underside of ground-level decks, so extra protection may be necessary. Advertisement.

What to do if your deck doesn't pass the splash test?

If your deck doesn't pass the splash test, use a wood cleaner or restorer so that the wood's pores will open, priming it to absorb the stain. Try the splash test again before staining.

How long does it take for water to absorb a stain?

Splash water on several different spots on the wood you're about to stain. If the water beads or isn't absorbed in about 15 minutes, the deck probably won't absorb the stain properly.

Do you need to stain the underside of a deck?

Image Credit: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images. It is not necessary to stain the underside of your deck for protection from the elements, especially if you use pressure-treated wood, which helps keep wood-boring insects out. However, depending on your situation, you may choose to stain the underside of your deck for reassurance ...

How long does it take to stain a deck?

In lieu of that, you can apply a simple stain to the deck and, after 48 hours, apply sealant for a similar level of protection. Advertisement. Photo:

What is the best way to protect a deck from moisture?

Photo: Sealant, stain, and paint can all be applied to a deck for different degrees of protection. Sealants are primarily used to protect against moisture damage. They contain waterproof or water repellant properties and have a thicker viscosity than stains.

How long does it take for a deck to soak up sealant?

If you’ve just put in a new deck, you’re no doubt itching to finish the job by sealing it. But preservatives in the wood often require about 30 days’ dwell time before the deck can soak up the sealant. After a 30-day period, pour some water on your deck. If it beads up, the wood is still too wet to seal, but if the water is absorbed, ...

How long does it take for wood to dry before sealing?

Allow to dry for 24 hours, then sand the surface with between a 60 to 150 grit sandpaper or sanding disk. Use a powered sanding tool to remove the top layer of wood, which could act as a barrier to the sealant.

Can you seal wood if it beads up?

If it beads up, the wood is still too wet to seal, but if the water is absorbed, it’s ready to seal. Be sure to apply sealant as soon as the wood is ready; leaving the deck exposed any longer increases the likelihood of both ultraviolet (UV) and moisture damage.

Can you sand a stained deck?

On a previously stained deck, also be sure to sand the entire surface—areas where the sealant has worn away as well as those that still have moisture protection intact. This moisture protection would prevent new sealant from being absorbed, so sand evenly to ensure a clean, bare surface.

Can you seal a deck with a damp deck?

Applying sealant to a damp or frosty deck will lead, at best, to an uneven, splotchy seal that can’t effectively protect your deck. At worst, the sealant will bead up on the water and fail to be absorbed, creating a messy, dangerous slipping hazard. Always allow the surface to dry for at least 24 hours after a rainfall before sealing a deck.


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