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Staining a new deck is a fantastic idea, and can help you extend the lifespan of your deck, and increase its curb appeal – but it can be confusing when you try to figure out how to stain a new deck. There is a lot to know before you get started, so the process can be intimidating.

Well, never fear! We’re here with a simple guide on staining your new deck. We’ll discuss the advantages of painting vs. staining, preparation, and the application methods you can use when you’re learning how to stain a new deck – and we’ll finish off with some FAQs about deck stains. Read on, and learn how to stain a new deck quickly and easily.

Staining Vs. Painting – What’s The Difference, Anyway?

One of the most confusing aspects of learning how to stain a new deck is understanding the difference between paint and stain. However, it’s crucial that you understand the difference between the two, and choose the right product for your new deck.

In many ways, stain and paint are very similar. They both consist of some kind of “vehicle” or binding agent – usually latex or oil-based – and pigments, which change the color of the painted material. However, that’s where the similarities stop.

Stain is much thinner than paint, and is designed to merge with the wood for a more natural finish, unlike paint. Paint will create a solid, opaque coat on top of your wood – and this is not ideal for decks.

Stains are better than paints for decks for a variety of reasons:

  • No primer – You don’t have to prime the surface of your wood when you’re staining a new deck, making the process easier.
  • More natural look – Stain doesn’t overwhelm the natural beauty of your deck – instead, the semi-transparent stain augments the wood’s finish and grain, allowing for a more natural, attractive look.
  • Won’t chip or peel – Paint can chip and peel easily on heavily-trafficked decks, due to the stress placed on the paint layer, and the constant humidity and temperature changes. Because stains “soak into” the wood of your deck, they are not prone to peeling, and can often offer better protection from the elements.

For these reasons, among many others, stain is the preferred method of finishing new decks – so pick out a great stain while learning how to stain a new deck!

how to stain a new deck

Preparing For The Staining Process

One of the advantages of using stain is that it’s very easy to prepare when you’re learning how to stain a new deck. Unlike painting, you don’t have to worry about primers, so the process is quick and easy, especially for newly-installed wood.

  • Thoroughly sweep your deck – Begin by removing leaves, sticks, rocks, and other debris from your new deck with a large broom. Even small debris can cause issues when staining, so you’ll want to do a very thorough job.
  • Apply deck cleaner – Using a roller or a pump sprayer, you should apply deck cleaner to every surface of your new deck, and allow it to soak in for about 15 minutes. Keep the area wet with a garden hose, then scrub with a brush to remove all soap, debris, and residue. Alternatively, you can use a power washer – but this is not usually necessary for newly-installed decks.
  • Dry and sand – Allow the deck to dry completely, then begin lightly sanding any areas of wood that are rough and uneven, or may still have some residue. This will allow you to remove all residue from your deck, and ensure an even stain.

Spraying Vs. Brushing/Rolling

A common misconception about staining when you’re thinking about how to stain a new deck is that you absolutely need a sprayer – and that’s not the case. In fact, sprayers are often less economical for smaller projects, as they’re expensive to rent and require a lot of setup/cleanup time. Sprayers can also waste quite a bit of stain, which is not ideal if you’re trying to save money.

As a rule, you should choose your method of staining based on the size and complexity of your project, as follows:

  • Small Deck: Brushes – Small decks are ideal for brushes. You can minimize wasted stain and maximize coverage by simply using a large, high-quality brush to apply your stain. This method is very economical, allowing you to save money while staining a small deck.
  • Medium Deck: Brushes/Rollers – Rollers are ideal for a medium-sized deck. You can use your roller to quickly coat large surfaces with stain, and use a large brush to coat the railings, latticework, and other more detailed surfaces.
  • Large Deck: Sprayer/Brushes – If you have a very large deck – larger than 400-500 square feet – you should consider staining a deck with a sprayer. It can be very time-consuming to paint large decks with brushes and rollers, so the investment of renting a deck sprayer is mitigated by the time you’ll save during the process.

In the end, there is no “best” way to apply stain. Stain applied with brushes and rollers is just as effective as stain applied with a sprayer – it just depends on your budget, the amount of time you have for your project, and the size of your new deck. So follow these tips when you’re learning how to stain a new deck, and choose the appropriate method for you!

Stain FAQs

Hopefully, these deck staining tips have helped you learn a bit more about the staining process! We’ll end our article here with some FAQs about staining, just in case you still have questions about how to stain a new deck. Happy staining!

  • How often do I need to re-stain my deck? This depends on your weather conditions, but an application of stain can be expected to last between 2-5 years.
  • How long should I wait before staining a new deck? Typically, you should stain a new deck immediately. The longer you wait, the more risk there is of your untreated wood being damaged by moisture and other weather elements.
  • How long do stains take to dry completely? Both latex and oil-based stains are typically dry to the touch within 3 hours, and can be walked on safely after about 48 hours.
  • Do I need to wash a new deck before staining it? Your brand-new wood may look clean – but it’s not. Even a new deck will have plenty of dirt present, which can harm the ability for a deck stain to take root and provide superior weatherproofing protection.

Do I need to strip my deck before restaining it? This depends on the type of stain you’ve used. Heavy, dark stains will typically require removal (usually using a power washer) before you can restain your deck. Lighter stains, on the other hand, can usually be reapplied without removing the original stain.