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How to: Stain Exterior Deck

Staining an exterior deck can help protect the wood from the elements and enhance its appearance. However, it's important to properly prepare the surface and choose the right type of stain to ensure the best results.

Step 1: Clean the Deck Before staining, it's important to clean the deck to remove any dirt, grime, or mildew. A pressure washer can be used to remove dirt and grime, but be sure to use a low pressure setting to avoid damaging the wood. For mildew, a solution of water and bleach can be used. Allow the deck to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Step 2: Repair Any Damage Inspect the deck for any damage, such as cracks, splits, or missing boards. These should be repaired with wood filler or replaced with new boards. Sand the surface of the deck to remove any rough areas and create a smooth surface for staining.

Step 3: Choose the Right Stain There are several types of stains available, including oil-based, water-based, and semi-transparent. Oil-based stains are the most durable, but they can be difficult to clean up and have a strong odor. Water-based stains are easier to clean up and have less odor, but they may not be as durable as oil-based stains. Semi-transparent stains are a good choice for a natural look, as they allow the wood grain to show through. Choose a stain that is suitable for the type of wood and the weather conditions in your area.

Step 4: Apply the Stain Using a brush or roller, apply the stain to the deck in the direction of the wood grain. Be sure to cover all surfaces, including the railings and steps. Allow the stain to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions before applying a second coat.

Step 5: Protect the Deck After the stain has dried, it's important to protect the deck from foot traffic and furniture. Use deck protectors under outdoor furniture and place doormats at entry points to the deck to prevent dirt and debris from being tracked onto the surface.


In conclusion, properly staining an exterior deck can help protect the wood from the elements and enhance its appearance. But it is important to properly prepare the surface and choose the right type of stain to ensure the best results. Remember to clean the deck, repair any damage, choose the right stain, apply the stain and protect the deck.

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