How to Stain Your Wood Deck | Steve Johnston, Reece & Nichols Realtors
Steve Johnston, CRS

How to Stain Your Wood Deck


It’s not hard to stain a wood deck. Depending on how large it is (and how new the wood is) you may even be able to do it in 1 afternoon.

Plan for a clear day without rain—so it has plenty of time to dry.  And if it needs to be cleaned (see step 2), then give your deck 1-2 days to dry thoroughly before staining.

Here are the 7 steps to this simple, do-it-yourself project.

Step #1—Buy your supplies.

You’ll need at least 1 gallon of stain (or more—depending on the size of your deck). Also look for:

  • Stir stick
  • Roller pan
  • Painter’s tape
  • Masking paper
  • Drop cloth or plastic tarp
  • Small roller brush (for upright spindles and corners)
  • Large roller brush (for floorboards)
  • Mildew remover (for cleaning—if it’s an old or dirty deck)

Step #2—Clean the wood.

Even if it’s a brand new deck—you’ll still want to sweep it clean, to make sure the surface is free of wood shavings, dust, and loose dirt. For older decks, pressure-wash it to remove mildew and deep-down dirt. If necessary, use a mildew remover. Then let it dry completely before staining, usually 1-2 days. (Remember to cover all furniture, plants, and decorations before washing.)

Step #3—Protect your walls, foundation, walkways.

Use painter’s tape, masking paper, and drop cloths to cover the siding, walls, cement, and foundation surrounding the deck. Cover as thoroughly as you can, since stain probably will not come off of these surfaces if it’s accidentally spilled.

Step #4—Prepare the stain.

Mix the stain using a stir stick. (They usually come free at most hardware stores when you buy stain.) Pour a layer of stain into the roller tray.

Step #5—Roll stain onto upright spindles and railings, using the small roller.

Use the smaller roller brush to stain upright spindles, boards, and railings. Push the small brush smoothly through the pan of stain so that it’s evenly coated, then roll directly onto wood in a smooth motion. To prevent drips from messing up floorboards, place masking paper (or a drop cloth) underneath the upright area where you’re working.

Step #6—Roll stain onto floorboards, using the large roller.

Use the large roller to roll the stain evenly and smoothly onto floorboards. Don’t get trapped in the middle of the deck! Plan to start on the far end, and work your way backward toward the stairs. Give it 1-2 full days to dry before removing painter’s tape and masking paper.

Step #7—Clean up.

Properly dispose of brushes and roller tray, or clean and keep for future use. Reseal leftover stain and store for touch-ups in a cool, safe area.

Need help? A ReeceNichols agent can recommend a contractor for your deck.Contact us today.