Deck Staining Tips

By: Mr Handyman of The Woodlands | Published 05/14/2024


Deck staining should be done every three to four years to protect your deck from splintering, to keep it looking great, and to make sure it gives you the 20 years of enjoyment it should.

Since you’ll be staining your deck five to seven times over its life, you want to get the process down to a science. Below are deck-staining tips from the experienced home improvement professionals at Mr. Handyman that will help you get it done right the first time.

Don’t stain if you don’t have to.

The point of deck staining is to protect your deck. To see if your current stain can last another summer, give your deck the water test: pour a glass of water on your deck, or in several spots, including where there seems to be the most wear, fade, or algae growth. If the water is still beading after 10 minutes, take the year off!

Read the directions on the stain you’re using.

Seems obvious, right? But every stain is different, and instructions, including the number of recommended coats, vary from type of stain opaqueness and from one manufacturer to the next. Even if you think you remember how you got the deck to turn out so great last time, take a few minutes to read up on what’s actually in your hand.

The number one mistake that leads to failed deck staining is staining over a surface not properly cleaned.

Stripping old stain first, in our experience, is purely optional and unnecessary. Before stripping, consider plant life that surrounds your deck, because stripping agents can kill it. However, pressure washing and cleaning the deck first are excellent predictors for success.

Moisture is the enemy of any deck staining project.

If it rains too soon after the stain has been applied or you don’t allow your deck to fully dry after pressure washing, your project could be doomed from the start. So before you pry open that first can of stain, check the weather forecast and be patient—As a rule of thumb, wait two days after the pressure wash before you apply stain.

Deck Staining Party
Hey, why not? Deck staining parties are less time-honored than barn-raisings but are a great way to make quick work of a time-consuming project. And like hosting a dance when the barn is done, you can thank your friends and neighbors for helping out with a party the next weekend on the newly stained deck…

When hosting the deck staining party, make sure you have a nice day, the right mix of the right tools, and the right elements for a good time. You’ll need stain buckets, brushes, and rags for each volunteer, and a picnic table full of snacks and outdoorsy lunch items: potato salad, pasta salad, chips, and salsa. Don’t forget sunscreen, sun hats, work gloves, and coolers of cold beverages within easy reach. If your grill is handy, fire up some hot dogs, hamburgers, fish, veggie kabobs, or whatever your friends might enjoy.

How about a little music? Absolutely. Invite friends and family to play selections of their favorite music.

Don’t ask your friends to bring food or drinks – remember, they’re helping you out by staining your deck, so potluck style and BYOB are out! And remember, make sure that you pitch in yourself – for proper community spirit! If you have a spouse, significant other, or family member who is good at hosting, see if they would be willing to work the grill, take care of the music, and other hosting duties while you help lead the deck maintenance, making sure everyone has the tools and drinks they need and directing traffic so that no one stains themselves into a corner.

When deck staining on a dry sunny day, your deck will seem dry 30 minutes after the last brush stroke but resist the temptation to party on the deck. Most brands do not recommend foot traffic on the deck surface for 24 or 48 hours after applying a fresh coat of stain.

Instead, picnic and relax in the backyard or invite everyone inside to clean off and enjoy some air-conditioned cool air. To complete the circle, invite everyone back the next weekend to have fun on the deck and see how it turned out! The deck-staining party idea might just end up being a memorable summer highlight for all involved.


Mr. Handyman guarantees its work and only hires experienced professionals with an average of 10 years of experience. Our home improvement professionals arrive with all the necessary tools and protective coverings to complete the job. Contact your local Mr. Handyman for quality deck staining services, power washing, and more.

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