How to Stain a Deck for the First Time?

| Last Updated: April 14, 2021

how to stain a deck for the first timeSometimes it feels really sad when I encounter people not caring much about their deck. When I visit a friend or neighbor who has an old deck that looks almost dead, my concern about writing for this topic increases dramatically.

Finally, I made some time to write about one very important part of deck restoration or maintenance.

And it’s how to stain a deck to bring back the lost glow. Not only old deck owners can try this but also first-timers who are probably new to this topic will find some solutions for their trying.

How to Stain a Deck for the First Time: Choosing Stain, Repair, Clean up & Staining.

Staining a deck for the first time no matter it’s new or old is not something you can take easily. A whole process waits for you to get that professional, beautiful end result.

Just like painting an exterior door, this step involves various tricks to follow. I’ll be discussing each segment in detail below.

How to Choose a Deck Stain?

There are different ranges of deck stains available. It starts from transparent to absolutely solid ones. There’s also a middle category of semi-transparent or semi-solid stains.

The final choice depends on your personal preference and situation as well. Here’s some clue on two types of stain for the deck.

Solid stains: These are meant for more protection and avoiding any retouch for a long time. Strong solid stains are great for covering the natural wood shade of your deck.

Transparent Stains: You’ll have to work a lot with these types of stain. The best part with transparent stains is that these are great at showing wood grains. However, you can’t skip the re-staining process every year while choosing it.

The end line here is that those who give more importance to showing wood grain should opt for transparent stain. These require your upkeeping attention surely. On the other hand, if you want to go for less maintenance, solid stains are the way out.

But then again, if you are stuck on making a decision while hanging between these two types, semitransparent or semi-solid stains can provide a solution.

Go for An Inspection.

Staining on an imperfect deck is actually doing more damage than recovery. It’s going to end up in making puddles of stain in different spots on the deck. So before staining, you need to go for a complete inspection.

While painting a door you can see faults and problems without any through inspection. But that’s not the same case with a deck. You need to take several walks over it and point problematic areas for providing solutions.

Most common imperfections and their solutions are:

  • Popped up nails on the surface. You can use a hammer to pop inside any visible nails.
  • Warped or broken pieces of wood. Just pull them out and replace pieces.
  • Screws that are half or fully damaged. Pull them out and insert new screws.

Cleaning the Deck

If someone asks me about the most important step in getting flawless results for deck staining then I’ll say cleaning.

You can’t imagine how fast a clean surface can soak stains. It’s probably double times better than a grimy surface. So never skip the method. Learn how to clean a deck before staining.

Those who have a good habit of cleaning deck every year will enjoy numerous benefits here. It’s going to be super easy to clean them with minimal cleaners. However, for others, there’s no simple answer on what to use to clean deck before staining.

You’ll have to use strong deck cleaner in that case. The deck cleaner will have clear instructions given on its label. Never miss those and spent a good few minutes to read them carefully.

Using a stiff and hard bristle brush, you can give the deck a good mop after applying cleaner.

After a good scrub, your deck will start to eliminate any strong dirt or debris from it. You’ll have to rinse the deck well to get rid of these grimes as well as the cleaner. No residue can remain on the surface.

Should you pressure wash deck before staining? Well, probably yes. This extra step will ensure there is no residue at all. It gives a better stain lasting ability to the surface. So, for the best treatment, you can include pressure washing for deck cleaning step.

Finally, Start Staining.

It’s time for you to apply the stain coats now. Once again make a check on whether all nails and screws are in place within the surface. It should not disturb the brush or roller while staining. This is the major reason why some DIYers end up having rough texture here.

Get some standard painter’s tape next. Use these to block off any area that should not be stained. This will save you a lot of time later.

Also, there are stains that might damage the nearby plants, especially sprays. So, make sure you put some plant covers over them.

Using a roller brush, start applying a generous coat with steady hands. You can also use a sprayer for fast application.

You can use the roller to fix too much stain application. Simply roll over the place and it will spread evenly. Just make sure you fix this before the stain dries off.

A great trick here is to back brush. This will allow the deck stain to soak better in board. This will also end up giving you long-lasting results and even surface.

Let it Dry Completely.

You are almost there to end up this staining process. It’s all about waiting patiently for the stain to dry completely.

In most cases, the stain will need one or two days to dry. However, this time period may vary depending on your deck and wood.

Also, not every stain takes the same amount of time to dry. You’ll probably get a clear number on the instruction labels. To be on the safe side, add one or two hours extra.

Drying time will also depend on the humidity of your area. So, you might want to decide on a suitable day when humidity is low for the faster drying process.


If you really want to stand out with your deco then don’t forget to care about the house and deck color combinations. Here is some wise advice to keep in mind:

  1. What color of woods would you prefer for your home floor, furniture or kitchen cabinets? Your answer will work well with the deck also. Usually, this is the smartest way to select right wood shade for deck.
  2. Some people plan to decorate their outdoor space with patio furniture. You can go for chocolate-brown shades to glam up modern furniture.
  3. Continuing your home floor color outside in deck can make it visually appealing too. Especially if you have a smaller area inside. This way the continuous color will give illusion of having more space.
  4. Another cool trick for choosing shade is bringing the outside rock or mountain shades into deck. If you have a home with bright tones like yellow, this trick will work even better. Keeping your inside different than outside is a unique concept. It’s going to feel like two separate worlds living aside.


If you have installed a new deck then there are two approaches to follow for staining. The most common approach is to let new wood dry for three to twelve months before staining it.

New wood tends to have high moisture content. So, the stain’s penetrating ability is quite low.

However, with proper prep up you can surely stain deck right away. For that, you’ll have to follow a good clean up, scrub and pressure washing regime.

Then you’ll have to use a wood brightener to neutralize. This will open the pores of new wood and get rid of mill glaze.

You’ll be able to apply a thin coat of deck stain afterward. Avoid using heavy coats because stain penetration is going to have a hard time.


This was everything about how to stain a deck for the first time and hopefully, I didn’t miss anything out.

Deck installation is quite expensive and if you are careless about maintenance related to it, the thing won’t last long. So, it’s better you hear the warning bell sooner than later and keep your deck alive for as many years as possible.

Someone who is new to deck staining, follow the steps I mentioned above and have patience. You’ll probably be smiling by the end of this process, looking at your beautiful deck.

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