Staining Your Own Deck? Avoid These Short Cuts

Staining your own deck?

Staining a deck, the amount of time that you spend on the project tends to be the most important factor in how beautiful it turns out. Assuming that you use materials and tools of reasonable quality, making sure that you follow every instruction to a tee (and to take shortcuts) is what gives you the finish that you desire.

Don't fall for these short cuts

If yours is a new deck made of fresh lumber, you can’t get down to staining it right away. You would lock the moisture in and ruin the wood if you did that. Instead, you should allow the wood to weather for several months first.

If you have an older deck that already carries a coat of polish, you need to take your time applying stain stripper properly and allowing it all the time it needs to dissolve the old finish off. The more patiently and carefully you work, the better your results will be.

Here are some of the other ways in which it might occur to you to take a few shortcuts. You need to resist the temptation.

Preparing the deck surface

Whether you have a brand-new deck or an installation with several coats of polish acquired over decades, preparing your surface before you put your new polish on is the key to quality results.

If your deck is made of brand-new wood, paying attention to sanding the wood down is important to making it absorptive. When wood is cut and smoothed at the sawmills, the action of the machinery has a tendency to crush the surface grain. Crushed grain, also called mill scale, tends to be resistant to staining. Wood that has the mill scale intact is usually hard to stain properly.

If yours is an old, weather-beaten deck, your wood is absorptive enough. You just need to pay attention to sanding out all the grayness, the fungus and the stains before you start. Oxygen bleach wood cleaners and stain strippers clean out existing staining well in an environmentally friendly way. If there are any stains that stain stripper doesn’t remove, sanding is always an option.  The entire process needs plenty of patience. With painstaking preparation, a beautifully stained deck is almost a given.

Don't leave out the brighteners

People staining their own decks often get tired halfway through the process and look for steps to cut out. To many, the step where they are supposed to apply wood brightener is the one that seems unimportant enough to dispense with.

Wood brighteners are able to take old and weather-beaten grey wood and turn it into something lustrous. They are nothing to be afraid of, either. These are spray-on and rinse-off products that protect the wood of you deck from cosmetic weather damage.

Without brighteners, your deck can never shine the way it could.

Don't take too long

Wood brighteners and other deck staining products contain powerful chemicals. It could damage your deck leaving them on any longer than recommended. Stain doesn’t stick properly to wood that has been over-exposed to chemicals, too.

Rinsing and cleaning out the chemicals that you use after each step is fundamentally important to a great deck staining.


With summer now official, it’s time to get outdoors and really enjoy your back yard. A deck is an amazing investment for your home. So make sure you take the time to property care for it, or it will quickly turn into a money pit or liability.