How Often Should I Stain to Properly Maintain my Deck?

Family barbecuing on their patio A wooden deck adds outdoor living space to your home, serving as the perfect place to entertain friends or simply unwind at the end of a day. You must regularly maintain your deck to keep it safe and looking its best, though. Learn how often you should stain the wood as well as other upkeep tasks.

Maintenance Tips

Inspect your deck once a year. If you live in an area of the country with wet winter weather, do it in the spring before opening the area for the warm weather seasons. Move everything off the deck, then sweep it clean of all debris and look for the following:
  • Nails sticking up
  • Loose boards
  • Large splinters
  • Rotting wood
You can pound down nails easily enough with a hammer, but you might want to call in your professional handyman if wood requires repair or replacement. He or she will have expertise and tools at the ready for such a project. powerwash-deck If all wood looks in good shape, clean your deck using a commercial product and the recommended tools. Certain cleaners can be brushed on, while others work with a power washer to get the job done. Remember to cover all plants and grass before cleaning as certain products can harm them. Next inspect the wear of your deck stain. No hard and fast rule exists for how often you should stain your deck. The type of wood, the type of stain, and the environment in which you live all factor into how long a stain lasts. Your deck could require staining every year or every two years, again depending on these factors.

High-Quality Stains

Deck Staining and Sealing - Sealer and Paint Brush The best protection you can provide your deck is a high-quality stain. You must choose between a water-based stain (latex, acrylic) and an oil-based (alkyd) stain, and each has its advantages. Water-based stains offer the best color retention. They also prove easier to work with as a product than oil-based stains. There is less odor, cleanup only requires soap and water, and you do not need to worry about storing water-based stains, as they are not flammable. Water-based stains also dry more quickly than oil-based stains. Oil-based stains have their selling points, as well. They are longer lasting and offer better penetration than water-based stains. They prove more durable, a serious advantage for decks in harsh climates. And that longer drying time allows you to actually achieve a more even finish. Unless you have previous experience, though, you will want to enlist the help of your professional handyman if applying an oil-based stain because of the additional care and work required by their use.

DIY Deck Staining

Wood-Deck-Cleaning Many homeowners tackle this project themselves annually. They keep the supplies and tools on hand, simply stocking up on necessary items each year. If you plan to do this job for the first time, you will need the following for the cleaning, prep and staining work:
  • Plastic tarps
  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • Large push broom
  • Deck cleaner
  • Power washer or hose with specialty nozzle
  • Protective eyewear
  • Sander
  • Stain
  • Paint brushes and paint rollers
  • Safety mask (if using an oil-based stain)

When deciding whether to take the DIY route or have your professional handyman tackle the job, consider the cost of supplies and tools, and keep in mind that a high-quality stain combined with professional application results in the longest lasting stain job. Also factor in time. Will a professional get the job done in half the time?

Either option will prove better than putting off deck maintenance or ignoring it altogether. Wood requires regular upkeep to remain a safe material for a deck on which your friends and family gather.

Part of the Deck Repair and Maintenance Series

Mr. Handyman can maintain your home to save you money. One call really does take care of everything on your to-do list. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service now online.