The Top 3 Reasons to Stain a Deck

 In Maintenance

Wooden decks require regular maintenance to help preserve its color, grain, and longevity. All year round, your deck is exposed to rain, snow, sleet, ice, and direct sunlight. It’s important to restain your deck to help prevent the impact that these elements may have on the wood. But as with staining or painting any surface, it’s important to take the necessary preparation and application procedures to ensure you get the protection and the look that you desire. Here are the top three reasons to stain your deck, and some helpful hints for prepping and staining:

  • Prevent Sun Damage

Untreated and/or unsealed wood takes a lot of damage from the sun. Its color changes, its shape warps, and it dries out much faster than it would naturally, making it much more susceptible to cracks. Putting a high-quality stain, like DeckScapes by Sherwin Williams, on your deck prevents the sun’s rays from penetrating the wood completely and ensures the deck’s longevity.

  • Repels Moisture

Just like the exterior paint of your home, deck stain can help prevent moisture from soaking into the wood. Although stain doesn’t cover the wood in the same way that paint does, deck stain acts as a barrier between moisture and wood. Water-soaked wood can begin growing mold or mildew, and may also expand and grow soft, causing you to have to replace planks and repair the deck.

  • Avoid Cracking

Many people fall victim to the false notion that sealing a deck with deck sealant will solve all potential wood issues, but cracking is one thing that sealants alone won’t help or prevent. Between the sun and the natural drying process, your exterior wood can easily become cracked. Using an oil-based stain will help keep necessary moisture in the wood while keeping excess water out, preventing both cracking and moisture buildup or warping.

  • Preparation Tips

Preparation is key to the final results. All wood needs to be cleaned well before staining, whether it’s a brand new deck, or an older deck that’s been out in the weather and needs to be re-stained. Brand new lumber needs to be cleaned to remove “mill scale”– a crushing of the grain that takes place during the milling process. If it’s left un-cleaned, it can prevent wood stains from properly penetrating into the wood surface.

On an older deck, dirt, graying from the sun, mildew and old stains all need to be removed prior to staining. You should use a deck scrub for the cleaning process. It uses an acidic solvent to kill mildew as well as it helps remove any dirt or grime that has built up. It’s important not to use a powerwasher for cleaning decks as they can streak the wood and cause splintering.

If there is a build up of old stains on the deck then the job gets a little tougher but not impossible. You can use a stain stripper which will remove most weathered stains in a single application. Lastly, if there are small spots of stain that won’t come off during the cleaning process, they should sand off easily. Always sand decks by hand as to not apply too much pressure and destroy the wood. If spots of stain are left on the deck, they will show through the new finish and detract from the deck’s final appearance. Allow the deck to dry for one week after cleaning before applying stain.

  • Staining Procedure

First, it’s important to read the stain can. Every stain can be slightly different, so it is very important that you adhere to the written directions. Pay attention to how many coats of stain to apply, how long to wait between coats, how long to wait after cleaning and how long to allow wood to weather. So read the label first and you’re likely to get it right the first time.

There are a lot of different ways to apply the deck stain. Paint brush and paint roller are the two most popular. Regardless of how you apply your wood stain, keep a paint brush at hand. A paint brush will work the stain deep in to the pores of a board. The friction caused by a paint brush will cause the wood to absorb more stain. So if you are spraying or rolling the stain, always back-brush it in with a brush while the stain is still wet and you’ll achieve much better penetration in to the wood. Remember…take your time!


At Textbook Painting, our professionally trained painters can stain your deck, or take care of your other exterior painting, staining, or powerwashing needs. Set up a free estimate with us by calling (216) 503-4480. Visit our railing refinishing page for more information on that service from Textbook!

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