I tend to stain the deck as much for looks to add a fresh curb appeal as I do for protection. A cost-effective task to prepare your house for sale or summer parties. Most importantly, stain is a key to protection and how long a deck will last. If you can drop water on the deck and the drops soak in rather than bead up, then it’s time for another coat for weather protection.
To start, focus on prep so staining is easy. Clear the deck, cover any fragile plants nearby and clean away. Quick broom work can make things a lot easier and get all the loose dirt off. Check for nails that need to be pounded in or rough spots to sand to get a smooth surface.
Many use a pressure washer for the final cleaning. Be sure to use a fan pattern nozzle and no more than 1,000 PSI or you may take up wood chunks with the dirt. I’ve also found a garden hose with good pressure and strong nozzle can work too but may require more than the quick broom job prior to hosing it down.
Many people don’t use a stripper first, but I find the stain finish is much more consistent and your stain work will last a lot longer if you use a stripper first to get any residual stain or weather protection products fully removed before staining. You can then apply cleaners and brighteners which just make the stain job last longer and look better.
Now that you’re prepped, choosing the right stain is a big deal. Basic weather protectant products may only last 1-3 years. The semi-transparent stains around 3-5 years and the higher end solid stains last 5+ years. Better yet, the solid stains allow tinting and different color options. Color is great for hiding blemishes with the deck boards and I just prefer a little color to jazz up things over natural wood.
I prefer to use a paint roller with an extension handle to apply the stain. Sprayers are nice too, and they’ll provide the most even spray coverage if you’ve got one. Be sure it goes on smooth and even and avoid puddles. A paintbrush or staining pads can be used for corners and places the roller can’t get at.
After the worse part, cleanup, enjoy the best part; standing back and looking at your freshly stained deck!