how to stain a deck for the first time

How to stain a deck for the first time?

So, you have completed your new deck’s construction and are thinking about what the next step will be. The next step is to stain your deck.

A beautifully stained deck does not only look great but also will save the deck from harsh weather. As a result, wood’s lifespan will extend. Moreover, the real estate value of your home will improve, and potential buyers will find your home more appealing.

Following multiple individual steps, you can accomplish a deck staining project. Individual steps include:

● Inspection and repairing
● Cleaning
● Power washing
● Sanding
● Staining/sealing

All deck staining projects may not require all of the above mentioned steps. For instance, you may not require sanding of the deck surface.

Anyway, you will need to do the staining project on the weekend, and you will get a lively, beautiful recreation area ready for a barbeque party!

Step 01: Deck Inspecting, Repairing, and Cleaning

Thorough inspection is the first step of a deck staining project. Check if any structural problem, broken screws, raised nails above the surface, or severely split wood is there. If replacing or repairing the deck board is necessary, ensure it before starting the overall project.

The exact method of cleaning a deck will depend on your goals for its current completion and refilling.

If your wood deck is already varnished or painted and you need a stained wood deck, it is essential to strip off the varnish or paint using a chemical stripper. And after using the stripper, you have to clean and sand the deck before staining. On the other side, if your project is to paint only, then the staining method is comparatively straightforward: clean, sand, and paint.

Additionally, cleaning your deck with a wood deck cleaner will be enough if a transparent or semi-transparent wood stain is used to finish your deck; at this point, using a chemical stripper is unnecessary. It is advisable to use oxygen-based wood cleaner because they are formulated to remove dirt stains from sun exposure, and it cleans dirt.

Step 02: Power Washing

You can’t avoid the power washing step in the deck staining project. But when doing this, carefulness is a must. Power washing is an effective process when you have to do deep cleaning of a deck. But an improper power washing process can damage the wood. What are the improper processes when doing power washing?

● Using extreme water-jet pressure
● Holding the spray nozzle closer to the deck
● Working with the wrong spray tip

Due to the above reasons, deck boards can ruin.

Using the minimum pressure will give you the best cleaning result when dealing with the power pressure method. The pressure range should be 500 psi – 600 psi if your deck is made of cedar or pine wood. You can increase range and can go up to 1200 – 1500 psi for harder woods.
If you don’t prefer using the power washing method, you can deep clean your deck using a strong spray nozzle and a garden hose—the use of a deck cleaner to scrub off the deck following the manufacturer’s instruction manual.

Step 03: Deck Sanding

Sanding is one of the essential steps when staining a wood deck, and when the deck is sun-damaged or rough, it is mandatory. Besides, you can choose to do sanding on the handrails or damaged or discolored areas if the main deck’s surface is in relatively good condition. Smooth handrails will help you to get rid of splinters.

With an orbital sander, you can comfortably finish sanding. But to get the best result, picking the correct sandpaper with the right grit is necessary. Sandpaper that is very fine, leaves holes in the wood filled with a fine dust that prevents stains from getting wet. And too coarse sandpaper can damage wood, especially softer woods like cedar.

60 – 80 grit sandpapers will be a good choice for main deck boards, while 80 or 100 grit sandpaper will deliver the best result when sanding the handrails. It is recommended to use a vacuum cleaner instead of rewashing the deck. If you rewash, the surface will get rough. If it rains in the meantime, let the deck dry completely before staining, but avoid re-sanding.

Step 04: Picking the Right Deck-stain

A wide range of deck staining is available in the market. The choice of deck-stain depends on your personal preference. Below is a hint of 2 types of deck-stain

Solid-based stain

This stain type protects the wood deck effectively, and you don’t need to do any retouch for an extended period. Solid-based stains are the best for providing a cover in the natural wood shade of your deck.

Clear Stain

Working with a clear stain is stressful. The best thing about clear stain is they show wood grain after applying. But frequent re-staining is required when it is applied.

Also, keep in mind that the stain’s original color may differ from the sample and brochure once the stain is applied. It would be best to buy a small amount of stain and apply it on your deck to check the result. Once you are satisfied with the result, you can buy a gallon.

Step 05: Picking the Right Brush

With a paint pad applicator, you will get the best result. In contrast, for details work, paint brushes are best.

Go with a natural-bristle paint brush when you are using the best oil based deck stain. For water-based stain, use a synthetic-bristle paint brush. And buying different sized brushes will be a wise decision.

Step 06: Stain Applying

We are at the final step of the project, “how to stain a deck for the first time.”

If you decide to go with oil-stain, ensure the deck’s drying at least 2 days before starting the staining process. Start staining from the handrails and then go to the deck boards. Different-sized brushes will come in handy when staining in small areas like trim boards, balusters, etc.

Use a paint pad applicator when staining on the deck boards. This way, you can stain on the deck quickly, and in the end, even finishing will be confirmed. Use a rag to wipe up any extra stain. Do not leave stain pools on the surface to dry.

After applying, let the stain rest for the next 24 – 48 hours.

Warning: Ensure proper disposing of the oily rags to avoid any fire hazards.

The best result comes with hard work, and the result of the project will undoubtedly put a smile on your face.

With the right preparation and ideal materials, you will always get a long-lasting and praiseworthy result.


Hopefully, with the above steps, you will get a professional-grade result if you are staining a deck for the first time. After drying, place your furniture back and invite all your family and friends to have a BBQ party.