Your wooden deck is a special place where you can enjoy everything from reading and relaxing to weekend barbecues with family and friends. Keeping a wooden deck in top shape ensures its longevity and ensures that it will continue to look beautiful.

When it’s time to stain and seal your wooden deck, the job will go more smoothly when you know the tricks and tips for the best result. Great Guys Painting shares what you need to know so it’s simple to care for your wooden deck.

1. Plan According to the Age of the Wood 

  • New Wood – If you’ll be staining and sealing a new deck, you’ll want to allow the new lumber to dry out for a few months and sufficiently adjust to its new environment before staining and sealing.
  • Older Wood If you’ll be staining and sealing an older wooden deck, you’ll need to use a stripper to remove the old stain and sealer. Follow the stripper directions and allow the stripper to sit on the wood for enough time to break down the old finish so you won’t have to work so hard to remove it.

2. Check the Weather 

Check your local long range weather forecast so you can schedule your deck staining and sealing project when you’ll have consecutive rain-free days. It’s also best to avoid this project during exceptionally hot weather.

3. Know That Proper Preparation is the Key to the Best Results

Taking the time to prepare achieves the best final results. 

  • Use a Wood Cleaner – Whether the wood is new or older, you must use a wood cleaner before staining. It may be tempting to just clear your deck of outdoor furniture, plants, and the BBQ then start staining – but when finished, you’ll regret having skipped the all important prep step. 
  • New Wood Needs Cleaning Too – New wood may look clean, but it won’t absorb the stain evenly if it isn’t cleaned after installation. The milling process crushes the grain, trapping dust and debris that prevents the stain and sealer from penetrating the wood.

4. Use Quality Tool and Materials

The old adage, “you get what you pay for” couldn’t be more true for the products you choose to stain and seal your wooden deck. Although you’ll pay more, you’ll get higher quality pigments, resins, mildewcides which will last longer. Since you’re going to the trouble of staining and sealing your deck, you might as well pay for products that will keep it protected and great looking for the long haul.

Quality Materials

  • Wood Brighteners If the wood on your deck is bleached and grayed by the sun, you can easily revive it with a brightening product. The benefits are many: wood brightener opens up the grain so the new stain will penetrate and help protect the wood, they neutralize the stripping product, make the wood look like new, and are easy to apply.
  • Stain – Stain penetrates the wood fibers. Until recently, most outdoor wood was painted or stained with oil-based products. They were considered longer lasting and more durable. But with recent technology, water-based paints and stains are more durable and longer lasting than their oil-based cousins. There are no toxic solvents to breathe, they clean up with soap and water, dry faster, and are more environmentally friendly.
  • Sealer Even pressure treated wood will soon show wear if it isn’t protected with sealer. The best sealers will protect your wooden deck from sunlight, mold, and moisture damage while at the same time allowing the beautiful grain and color to show through. Choose a sealer with UV protection if your deck gets intense sun. Just like with stain, sealer comes in water-based or oil-based.

The Best Tools to Do the Job Right

  • Brush is best – Stain can be applied with a roller or even a pressurized garden sprayer but the stain will penetrate best when it’s applied with a brush. Even if you choose to spray or roll, keep a brush on hand to work the stain into the wood grain while the stain is still wet.
  • A pressure washer is helpful – When a cleaning solution is added, a pressure washer is a fast and efficient way to prepare older wooden decks for staining.

5. Understand the Process for Superior Results

  • Read the Label Directions – It definitely pays to read the label directions before you start your project so that you get the best results. Each stain and sealer product is formulated slightly differently and directions can vary.
    • You’ll want to know how long to wait to apply the first coat after cleaning, how many coats are suggested, and how long you should wait between applying the coats. 
    • Another reason why following the label directions is important is that some stains are designed to be transparent and allow the beautiful wood grain to show through and allow the wood to breathe. When too many coats of stain are applied, the stain won’t penetrate properly, the wood won’t be able to breathe, and eventually the stain will begin to peel. 
    • Avoid potential problems and follow label directions.
  • Wash the Deck
    • Choose a biodegradable product such as an oxygen-based cleaner that won’t harm plants, pets, you, and your family. Oxygen-based cleaners, also known as sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide, are a great choice to clean new wood and also stains, mildew, sun damage, and dirt on old wood.
    • You can use a pressure washer to make the job go faster. 
    • If your deck is covered with mold and moss, use a non-acidic cleaner especially formulated for algae, mildew, moss, and mold.
    • If small stains are still visible after cleaning, they can be removed with a palm-sander.
  • Apply a Brightener to Old Wood – Wood brighteners can restore the wood’s beauty by neutralizing the pH of the wood, thus enhancing the color and grain.
    • The brightener is applied right after stripping while the wood is still wet.
    • After letting it sit for 15 minutes, rinse the brightener off the deck thoroughly.
    • Wait several days for the rinsed deck to dry before staining.
  • Apply Stain – Stains range from light tints that allow the grain and natural wood color to show through to opaque stains that conceal the wood grain. 
  • Apply Sealer – Most sealers require two coats for maximum protection. Single coat sealers are available but you’ll pay more.
  • Drying and Curing
    • Follow the label directions for the proper drying and curing time. 
    • Your deck needs to harden before it can withstand foot traffic and scraping furniture legs. 
    • Water-based sealers usually dry in one to three hours and cure within 24 hours.
    • Oil-based sealers typically dry in four to twelve hours and require up to 72 hours to cure.

Most high-quality stain and sealer manufacturers provide how-to videos that are worth watching before you begin your project. But if you’re not up to a DIY project or simply don’t have the time to do it right, it’s easy to find reliable and trustworthy deck finishers near you when you get a free quote from Great Guys Painting. At Great Guys, we vet every deck stainer in our network so that you can rest assured they are licensed, insured, and completely reputable.


After staining and sealing, your wooden deck will look like new when you choose a trustworthy contractor through Great Guys Painting. It’s simple to get connected – just ask for a free quote now!