How to Stain a Deck

Recommended Use

These products should be used on any surface that will be tracked on or come in close contact with human or pet activities. Some common uses for the deck formulas are decks, piers, boat slips, gazebos, play sets, outdoor furniture, etc. Transparent deck stains are most commonly used on new structures and cedar or redwood surfaces, while the Universal products excel on pressure-treated surfaces and any surface that is aged and has to be cleaned.

Preparing the Deck

All surrounding vegetation or obstacles should be covered with bed sheets. We have found that placing cardboard under the handrail while spraying will eliminate any puddles that may occur from excessive dripping or overspray.

Lack of proper cleaning and preparation is the most detrimental process to reaching the desired look and the stain reaching its full potential. It is recommended that you use Wood Defender™ “Deck Prep” on the surface of a newly constructed deck. It is common for deck boards to have a phenomenon called “mill glaze” on the surface, which prohibits adequate penetration. Wood Defender “Deck Prep” does a great job of removing mill glaze and prepping the surface for the stain application.

When staining a deck that is aged and has not been stained with water-based products previously, simple bleach cleaning will be required. It is best to prepare your bleach concentration with water and do a small test area to ensure that you have the proper solution. Once that is determined, spray on the bleach and let it set 15-30 minutes. After all the mold and mildew is gone, you need to rinse the deck with water. It is best to rinse to the center of the structure to reduce the risk of getting the chlorine solution in any neighboring structure. If the deck is free of dirt or tracking marks, a light rinse with a garden hose will be sufficient. Pressure washers are used frequently on decks because of traffic stains and removing water-based stains; however, you should use them with caution, as they can often do more damage than good. If sanding is required, use a coarse-grit paper to reduce the risk of closing the wood’s pores.

All Wood Defender fence and deck stains are oil-based penetrating formulas. With that in mind, you may have to use a stripper to remove any latex-based products on the structure. A good way to tell the type of product is to look for lap marks, blistering, peeling, or cracking of the existing stain that will be evident in water-based products. Wood Defender fence and deck stains will not penetrate water-based stained structures.

Staining the Deck

  • We like to recommend staining the edges of the structure by hand a safe distance from the house.
  • Spray all handrails and skirting.
  • We highly recommend a lower-pressure setting than what was used for fence applications in order to reduce the amount of overspray.
  • After the house is cut in and skirting and handrails are done, you are ready to start on the floor surface.
  • Start away from the steps and work your way to the steps.
  • Spray the floor and step surfaces, then immediately follow up with a microfiber roller to level out any puddles that may be left behind from the spray process.
  • Remember to stain the cracks between the boards to maintain an even appearance.
  • We recommend a second coat on all horizontal surfaces, including the tops of handrails, floors, and steps. These areas receive the most traffic and are more affected by sunlight and weather.

The Cleanup

Wood Defender Fence Stains wipe off most metal, glass, and non-porous surfaces; therefore, cleanup is less time consuming. Metal gate hardware and fences built with metal poles can be wiped off with a dry rag to remove stain. Wood Defender EZ Clean is the recommended product for removing the stain from surfaces you didn’t intend it being on. Wood Defender EZ Clean will remove overspray from windows, air conditioners, gutters, brick surfaces, cars, garage doors, and pool equipment, and actually leave the job site cleaner then it was when you started!

Dispose of stain-soaked rags in a metal container filled with water. This will alleviate the possibility of spontaneous combustion.


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