Stain your deck like a pro with these insider tips

As experienced deck staining experts, we have collected a few tried and tested techniques for doing the job right. While we don’t want to give away all our secrets, we are willing to share some with our dear readers.

If you’re planning to spend an afternoon deck staining anytime soon, give these tips a read. They could make the job a little easier!


The first piece of advice we’re going to offer is the same as in our fence staining post. PSE, Pay Someone Else. Staining is a dirty, smelly, unpleasant job and not something we would willingly do under normal circumstances.

We are strange enough to enjoy it but we appreciate that not everyone is going to have the same opinion.

If you can, pay a professional to stain your deck. It’s easier, will take less time and you will likely have a better result at the end.

Proper preparation…

You know the 6P rule and this is a case in point. Proper preparation definitely prevents poor performance.

The wood needs to be clean before staining. If you’re lucky, that just means running a broom over the deck to remove any debris. If you’re not so lucky, you’ll need to remove mold or mildew or that new timber mill-scale that prevents the stain from bonding.

Rinse the deck thoroughly

Once brushed and prepared, give the deck a good clean. Use a pressure washer or garden hose. Either way, make sure the deck is as clean as possible and free from anything that will get in the way of the stain.

Wood brighteners are a thing

There is a little-known product called a wood brightener. It’s a chemical that opens up the pores of the lumber and refreshes the surface to make it look like new.

If your deck is old or overly dark, use some wood brightener on it first and see how well it comes up!

Most wood brighteners come in a spray. Spray it into the deck, leave it a short time and rinse off using a garden hose. Read the instructions fully, but that’s the usual process.

Use a good quality deck stain

Stay away from own brand wood stains and invest in the good stuff. It will repay your investment by giving you a better finish, being easier to apply and perhaps requiring fewer coats.

We won’t name names here but you know the branded products from the own brands. Shop around, read reviews and invest in quality. It will definitely repay you in kind.

Check the weather forecast before you begin

Wood stain and damp wood don’t mix, so check the forecast before you begin. If you live somewhere changeable, make sure you have had a couple days of sunshine so the wood is dry and will have a couple more days of sunshine or fair weather so the stain can dry.

Use a synthetic brush

Synthetic brushes work best with wood stains as they don’t lose their rigidity and go limp like natural bristles. Natural brushes are great for many things but deck staining are not one of those things.

Invest in a good quality synthetic brush for the same reasons you invest in a good quality wood stain. The finish will be better, the process easier and the brush will be much nicer to use.