7 Steps to Stain Your Deck Without Massive Prep Work

Last Updated on September 14, 2021 by Gabriel French



There’s nothing quite like a brand new deck. It’s so beautiful and perfect that you want to spend all your time out there! Unfortunately, the deck needs some upkeep too.

One of the most important parts of maintaining your deck is how often you stain it, but this doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. In this blog post, we’ll teach you how to stain your deck without massive prep work!


1. Make sure the deck is clean and dry

 Before you start, make sure the deck is clean and dry. If you have a dirty or oily surface, wash off any loose debris or filth with a power washer. Scrubbing will remove any remaining ground-in dirt without harming the wood fibers, even if there is still some grime left.

If you want to use a power washer on your cedar deck, be careful not to harm it. A 100-degree nozzle setting is enough to clean the surface without causing damage.


2. Apply a sealant to the deck

Allow the deck to air dry after cleaning it. If you want a natural finish, apply a sealer to the deck so that it doesn’t absorb too much stain. This will make future cleanings simpler, and the sealer will also restore your cedar’s natural color.

While you can apply an oil-based or water-based product, we recommend using an oil based one like Olympic Maximum Oil Finish, because this is what professionals use on their decks all the time (and it’s our personal favorite). Using a brush, roller applicator or cloth pad sander attached to an electric drill; apply even strokes until surface looks dry. For a complete coverage area of 400 square feet per gallon, apply another coat if necessary.


3. Use a high-quality brush

Use a good quality brush to get the job done quickly. If you want to use an oil-based product, make sure the bristles are made from polypropylene or nylon and not natural hair. This will ensure better resistance against harsh weather conditions over time.

For water based products, we recommend using vinyl or synthetic fibers that can resist the erosive effects of water.


Make sure you have a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe off any excess stain that may be on the surface. If there are still streaks left over, wait until it dries and then sand them down with fine-grit sandpaper (220 grit is ideal). Then reapply more stain as needed. After applying your first coat, allow at least four hours for drying before putting anything on top of it (or better yet–wait overnight!).

Repeat this process depending on how thick you want your final finish to look like; one or two coats will provide an even appearance without too much contrast between different parts of the decking boards.


 4. Stain in small sections

If you plan on staining your deck, we recommend working in small sections and moving around with each coat. The reason behind this is to keep the stain from drying out before it can be fully absorbed by all parts of the wood fibers. Just remember not to apply too much product at once or you’ll end up wasting material (and money), without getting a good-looking finish that will last for years!

Don’t forget to wear protective clothing when working with chemicals like this, including eye protection! If possible, get someone else who knows what they’re doing involved so it doesn’t feel stressful.

Also consider covering up plants near where you’ll be applying products; these fumes can damage them over time if left unprotected as well (during hot summer days).

We also want to remind you about making sure everything is clean and dry before applying any type of coating; otherwise, stains may look blotched over time. So make sure to follow our handy guide exactly as instructed so that your deck looks like new again.


5. Wait at least 24 hours before applying another layer

When you’re done applying stain or sealant, let the deck dry for at least 24 hours before adding another coat. We recommend staining your cedar deck in three separate coats if possible–this will ensure even coverage and a smooth finish that lasts over time! Letting everything sit overnight so it can fully cure is essential to making sure your hard work doesn’t disappear after just one rainstorm (trust us).

You should also sand down any streaks that remain with fine-grit sandpaper (220 grit is ideal) while it’s still damp from your first application. Do not use too much pressure while doing so; keep in mind that cedar has soft pores that tend to absorb stains quickly if they’re applied thickly without proper drying times between coats- this can lead to uneven coloration over time. Allow an hour before on to re-apply more.


6. Let your newly stained deck dry for about two weeks

Allow at least two weeks for each additional layer after the previous one has been applied before bringing anything on the surface. If you’re using an oil-based product, it’s even more important; the longer drying period ensures that all parts of the wood fibers in each layer are soaked equally, preventing future cracks and peeling!

So make sure not to forget this step, even though it can be difficult with summer months approaching and wanting nothing more than spending time outside in our favorite weather conditions–remember that flash floods are never fun! Make sure everything is completely dried out first by checking with a moisture meter (if available) or just waiting until there’s moisture left over after touching every surface.


7. Enjoy! You just saved yourself weeks of prep work!

Now that your deck is clean, dry and stained or sealed (we hope), you can finally enjoy it again! Just make sure to keep up with the maintenance every few months by washing off stains as they appear; this will prevent them from building up over time.

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