Learning how to stain a deck along with the type of deck stain to buy can, at times, be a difficult process. Depending on the deck being stained, size and building materials along with the deck stain being used, either can have good or bad effects on your end project.

Below you will find how to help for prepping and guidence regarding the stain to use for your particular deck.

There are also references to other web sites that have examples of stain colors and samples for you to choose from.

Another thing to keep in mind prior to starting is that decks are made from an assortment of materials.

Be sure to ask the supplier of your decking whether coating your deck is required, when to coat it, along with how often the coating needs to be re-applied.

Asking what to coat your deck with would also be a good idea.


Before you learn how to stain a deck you will need to insure the deck is prepared prior to getting the stain on. Remove any loose or pealing coating from the previous coating job. Wash away any dirt or debris with a scrub brush and garden hose.

Your high pressure sprayer will get the job done but due to it having so much pressure washers tend to make more of a mess than a cleaning. If you can adjust the amount of water coming out of your preasure washer then go ahead and use it.

Decks that are exceptionally dirty have mold, mildew or some type of fungus growing on them should be washed down with a chemical cleaner. Your home improvement center or paint store sales rep can help you learn how to stain a deck including selecting tools, materials and products that you will need.


Stain can be sprayed on with a garden type sprayer or electric paint spraying machine. I find, though, that a brush, a can with a couple of inches of paint in it (cut can), tray and roller work best. Brush and roller staining is less messy, easier to work with and almost as quick as spraying the stain on. Below you will find instructions for brushing and rolling a deck as opposed to spraying it.

Sash brushs are cut at an angle and I find work best for learning how to stain a deck. Non-sash brushs will do the job though. A good quality brush two and a half to three inches wide is advisable.

I, myself, prefer a brush that's close to being as wide as the face of the boards that I'm staining. A wider brush is more difficult to handle of cource. You may find using more than one size brush will work for your how to stain a deck project.

I also prefer to use a roller thats about the same width as the face of the deck boards. I find Wizz or Quick rollers (usually one inch or less in diameter) with a cloth cover are ideal for applying the stain. Some people prefer the foam roller cover. You will need to decide what works best for you.

Any type roller will work. It does need to be smaller in width than the face of your boards though, otherwise the roller tends not to spread the coating very well.

Wiping rags will also be needed if your semi-transparent stain requires being wiped off.


Exterior deck stain comes in solid and semi transparent formulations. No stain will last forever and getting three years out of a deck stain, in my opinion, is the norm. Four to five years is pretty much the max.

Flood is a company that makes and guarantees its product but can be very expensive and you won't be paid for your labour no matter how soon the stain peels off. Flood is also pro-rated so if it's guaranteed for five years and lasts three you won't be reimbursed for the three years it did last.

Solid stains have more pigment and tend to last longer than semi-transparent ones. Solids can also be less difficult to apply. Semi-transparent stains on the other hand are easier to scrape away and prep when the time comes for re-staining.

Semi-transparents need to be wiped off after application, if you don't want the extra step when learning how to stain a deck then stick with the solid stains. I say might because manufacturers are always coming up with new types of products so it's very possible at some point (if not all ready) we will start seeing non-wiping semi-transparent stains.

A semi-transparent stain can be sprayed on and not require wiping but spray stains do require masking off of the house and a certain amount skill to apply.

Choosing a latex or solvent stain depends on the type of deck materials and environmental conditions the stain will have to deal with. Your stain supplier will direct you to the best product for the job at hand.

Also, this wood stain color charts page should help you find the stain color that your looking for.


Ok, lets learn how to stain a deck. You can stick with just the brush and a cut can but it will take longer to get the job done. I find that using a roller/tray, in combination with a brush and can, is the best and fastest exterior staining method.

Also, when you use a brush and roller the look of your solid stain tends to be more even and consistant. Keep in mind to that using a brush and roller works best with two people but can, if needed, be done with one.

Semi-transparent stains that require wiping should be applied, a recommeded waiting time followed, then the excess stain can be wiped away. Back brushing, when using semi-transparents, is not necessary as most of the stain will be removed anyway.

Remember to put the stain on and wipe it off using those saw cuts I mentioned above as reference points. For example, stain then wipe one section or length of your deck board.

Staining and wiping between where the saw was used to cut the boards before they where nailed on should eliminate any nasty lap marks that may occuro. Said marks result when one stops then starts staining again in the middle of a deck board or hand rail etc.


Begin your staining project by brushing or cutting in where the roller can't reach. At the spot that the hand rail meets the house or where the spindles attached to the hand rail would be an example.

Starting at the top where your hand touches the hand rail insures that any drips onto a lower surface (e,g the deck) will be coated with stain later. If you do drip wipe the drip before it dries otherwise you might end up with a bump after the deck is top coated.

As soon as you have brushed in the top and bottom of your hand rail (cutting in), have your helper roll on the stain in one continuous rolling. Do smaller sections and work quickly. Work between sections of wood where a piece or length of wood has been cut with a saw.

You can now go over the the wet rolled on stain with your brush using a firm nice even continuous motion. Some painters will eliminate the brushing step but back brushing as it's called has it's advantages when learning how to stain a deck.

By back brushing you help the stain adhear to the decks surface better. Brushing will also level out any sags or runs the rolling might create.

Once all of your work is done let it dry then apply a seconed coat. Rolling on a second coat will extend the durability of your staining job and tends to make it look that much better. After the second coat is dry use a smaller brush then go around and do any little touch ups that might be needed.


If you need painting and decorating information other than how to stain a deck use the home link above.

On the home page you will find navagation buttons such as ask a question along with interior or exterior projects and ideas.

Using the navigation bar should help find what you need or project your looking for.