How Often Should You Stain Your Deck?

Decks are popular today. They are one of the most requested home projects for the backyard, according to landscapers and home experts. However, a deck also means performing routine maintenance on it to keep it looking good and functional. That means keeping it stained. 

The general rule for how often should you stain your deck is that you should stain it every two to three years. The time between stains depends on the type of wood your deck is constructed with, the age of the deck, and the type of stain used. 

Read further to learn about why you should stain your deck and the type of stain you should use. 

What Stain Does to Your Deck?

Decks are raw wood and raw wood will eventually decompose. That is due to weather and use. Staining your deck protects your deck from both the elements and from high traffic. It also helps your deck look its best and retain its beauty over the years. 

Staining will help your deck last longer, prevents water damage, mold, rotting, and other types of damage. 

Studies indicate that decks that are well maintained and are regularly stained are used more than those that aren’t well maintained. It makes sense. It’s hard to enjoy an unsightly space.

While it can cost some money and time to stain and restain your deck, it will save you money over time because it prevents damage and rotting. Decks are an investment to your home and add considerable value to your property so it makes sense to maintain them as they should be with stains.

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What Type of Stain Should I Use?

There are many types of stains and some are better for certain woods than others so you may need to research to see exactly what type of stain is best for your deck. Home experts say newer decks should get a transparent stain while older decks should get a darker or color stain. 

The reason behind that is purely aesthetics. New wood looks good and you want to show off its natural beauty of it. That is part of what’s great about having a deck. 

As wood ages, a stain that covers up the flaws becomes more important. 

Beyond the transparent stains, there are semitransparent stains, semisolid stains, and solids. Wood decks soak up the transparent types like a sponge while a solid stain behaves more like paint and stays on top of the wood. 

Using a transparent stain has its drawbacks. The major disadvantage is it requires you to restain your deck more often because it does soak into the wood. You will need to restain your deck every year with a transparent stain. A solid stain can go for five years before needing refreshing.

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Using a Sealant

Applying a sealant to your wood deck after you stain it can delay the need to restain it and give it extra protection. Sealing will prevent water from getting through to the wood and helps the stain retain its look longer. Sealants are clear, polyurethane products that help waterproof your deck. They are a great defense against rain, sun, and other types of weather. 

A sealant should be applied two a year. That may sound like work, but it can increase the time between restaining by two-fold. 

Sealant is easy to use as you can apply it with a paint roller. 

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What Makes Stain Wear Faster?

No one type of weather causes the wood stain to wear faster than any other. Wood decks that face humidity or sun all year will see more wearing out of stain and will need to be restained more often than decks in moderate climates that have only partial sun. 

However, decks in shady areas will wear just as fast as those in hot conditions if there is high humidity. Those with decks in full sun may want to consider adding some shade to protect it over the years. You could add a deck umbrella, some shade trees, or a pergola.

One of the key factors in deck stain wear is how much the deck is used. Decks that are constantly used will have stain and sealer wear away faster. Those built near beaches will need to be restained more often because of the sand tracked onto the by family and friends. It’s like sandpaper rubbing against your deck. 

How Do I Know When to Restain?

An easy way to tell if your deck needs restaining is how it behaves with water. Pour some water on it. You’re good on the stain if it beads up and rolls off.  Water absorbed into the deck or that lays on top of it indicates you need to restain it and add a sealer.

You can also know if your deck needs restaining by the way it looks. Some areas may look lighter than others and an uneven color or obvious wear compared to the rest of the deck indicates you need to restain it.

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How Do I Restain My Deck?

Restaining a deck is a process and there is some prep work involved to do it properly. First, you need to remove all debris by leaf blowing, sweeping, and moving all objects off. 

Second, you need to pressure wash it to remove any small debris and loose stain. 

Look for any wood damage. Stains don’t fix wood damage so you will need to do that before you stain. Wood glue and wood fills work well to fix small cracks and holes. 

Also, look underneath your deck. Some decks are built with a liner underneath so water doesn’t seep through the deck to a patio or space underneath. You will need to fix that if there is any wear. Exposed wood underneath would need to be stained too if you can reach it. 

Some decks have limited crawl spaces underneath that make staining there impossible. 

Apply the stain with a roller paintbrush and used a standard paintbrush to get in small areas.

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How much does it cost to stain a deck?

Cost can vary on the size of the deck, the type of stain you buy, and whether you do it yourself or hire it out. The average price is $700 to stain a deck. 

Can I stain a deck myself?

Yes, staining a deck is an easy project. Most stains can be applied with standard paint rollers. Be sure to do it on a sunny day where the wind doesn’t blow leaves onto the deck. 

Is it okay to use a pressure washer on the deck?

Yes, using a pressure washer is recommended before staining or restaining it. However, you don’t want to use a pressure washer unless you plan on restaining it. Make sure the wood is dry before staining.

What’s the best way to clean a deck?

A deck can be regularly cleaned by sweeping away leaves, sand, and dirt and occasionally using a stiff bristle broom to help wash it with water, mild soap, and a spray hose. Some recommend pressure washing it once a year but that may be too much for your stain and could cause it to wear faster.

Can you apply stain over the stain on a deck?

Yes, you can stain over a previous stain if you are applying it for maintenance. However, be aware that stain won’t hide deck damage. You will still need to fix any damage before restaining.