Staining a Previously Stained Deck: What to Know

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Nothing adds warmth and character to an outdoor living space like a beautifully-stained deck. The trick is keeping it looking that way!

Several factors, such as climate, exposure, application, quality of materials, and usage, can impact the longevity of your exterior stain job by five to 15 years. That’s why it’s important to keep up with the maintenance of your deck. A deck is a significant investment, and routine care can help increase your satisfaction with the finished product for years to come.

Let’s review the steps you need to take when staining a previously stained deck.

How to Stain a Deck

When it comes to the best way to stain a deck, there are a few steps that you can take to get the best result possible. Follow the steps below to maximize your deck maintenance.


First, assess your deck’s condition to determine if any repairs are needed prior to staining. Likewise, if any of your deck’s wood shows signs of rot or splintering, staining them will not repair them—they will need to be replaced.

Any nail heads that have popped up must be hammered down before starting your project. If any of your deck boards are starting to warp, twist, or cup (raising an edge that could cause people to trip), they need to be repaired before you start staining a deck. Keep in mind that four-inch screws have more bite, so they can sometimes hold an edge down when regular nails will not. Try this option to secure any loose boards before you decide if the board needs to be replaced.

It’s also time to decide if you want to re-stain the deck using the same color or opt for one that is lighter or darker than your existing stain. Regardless of which color you choose, you will need to adequately prepare the deck’s surface to receive the new stain and ensure proper adhesion. Depending on the size of your deck, you can choose between scrubbing the deck surface by hand or using a power washer to get rid of all the dirt and grime on the surface.

Power Washing Your Deck

While you are using a power washer, the key is to rinse. Make sure that all soap and cleaning agents have been removed along with the dirt.

If your power washer has an optional detergent feed build-in, fill the container with a deck cleaning agent according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This particular cleaner will dissolve and lift all traces of dirt and mildew from the surface of the wood. Let the chemicals work, and use the power washer to rinse the chemicals away.

A second treatment may be necessary, especially if it has been several years since you last stained your deck. Simply blasting the debris off with a pressure washer can lift the grain of the wood and leave a rough surface that requires you to sand the entire deck to get it smooth again.

Manually Cleaning Your Deck

To manually clean your deck, mix a solution of deck cleaner and water according to instructions and apply using a stiff brush. Work in manageable sections and rinse each area with clean water once completed.

Regardless of which method you choose, you will need to allow the wood to dry before applying staining a deck. For water-based stains, one or two days of drying time is sufficient, but if you are applying an oil-based stain, allow for three full days of dry weather.

Choose Your Stain

Now it’s time to choose your stain! The best stain for a deck varies depending on the desk’s wood and the look you’re going for. There are three types of stain to choose from:

  • Exterior wood stain is available in either a semi-transparent or solid finish. Which type you use will depend on what is already on your deck.
  • A semi-transparent stain is opaque, adding color but allowing the natural beauty of the wood grain to shine through.
  • A solid stain ‘covers’ the wood, showing texture but hiding wood grain and prior colors.

When staining a previously stained deck, choose the right type based on the current finish. If your existing deck stain is:

  • Light: Apply a similar or darker stain color without additional preparation required.
  • Dark: This will be hard to ‘cover’ with a lighter semi-transparent color, as the old/dark color will come through. If you want to lighten up the color of a dark deck, consider a lighter solid stain.
  • Semi-transparent: Cover the existing stain with a semi-transparent or solid stain.
  • Solid: Apply another solid finish stain; a semi-transparent stain is engineered to bind with the surface of the wood and won't bind well to a solid surface.

Stain Application 

Begin the process by applying a small amount of stain in a hidden area to test for adhesion. If the deck has a protective finish, the stain won't adhere, and the finish will need to be removed. Application tips include:

  • Use a roller, paint pad, or brush, and apply the stain in long, smooth strokes.
  • Work in sections and expand outward, always keeping a ‘wet edge’ where the sections you are working on overlap. If one section dries and is then overlapped, you are effectively applying a second coat to that overlapped area, and this will lead to a blotchy finish.
  • If the stain pools during the application, you are applying too much at once, so cut back.
  • Allow the first coat to dry thoroughly before adding the second one.
  • A clear sealing product on top of your stained and thoroughly dried deck will extend the life of your deck, which makes the time and work you have invested worthwhile.

When to Stain a Deck

The best time to stain a deck is in the late spring or early fall. Stain your deck when the weather is not too hot or humid, which can affect the way the stain adheres to the wood.

Before staining a deck, check the weather forecast. Find a stretch of two or three days where it is not expected to rain and conditions are right for the stain to dry completely. This will give you the best chances at the results you’re looking for. Be sure to account for the days it will take you to clean the deck, stain it, and for it to properly dry.

Cost to Stain a Deck

The cost to stain a deck varies depending on the amount of prep work needed, the deck size, and the type of stain selected. Most homeowners can expect to pay between $500 and $1,000. This works out to be approximately $2.50 to $5 per square foot of deck.

If you’re considering hiring a local professional to stain your deck, make sure they have experience and ask questions about their process. A true professional will take the necessary steps to ensure the job is done right and last as long as possible.

Best Stain for a Deck

As mentioned above, the best stain for a deck is going to depend on a few factors. These factors include the type of wood you are working with, the type of finish you desire, and whether or not you are staining a deck that is already stained.

Hiring a local professional who will walk you through their process will also ensure that the best stain is chosen for your deck staining project.

Why Choose Mr. Handyman for Deck Staining

Regardless of the size of your deck, staining a previously stained deck can be a big task to take on by yourself. Unless you have the time, patience, and equipment to do the job right, it’s best to hire a local professional.

Your local Mr. Handyman offers a worry-free experience that over a million satisfied customers across the country have grown to rely on. Working with Mr. Handyman gives you access to a whole team of experts that make sure your job gets done right the first time. 

To learn more about the services Mr. Handyman offers, call (877) 256-3376 or request service online today! 

FAQs: Staining a Deck that is Already Stained

  1. Is staining a previously stained deck possible?
    Yes! With the proper prep work and deck staining knowledge, you can successfully stain a deck that has already been stained.
  2. How much does it cost to stain a deck?
    Staining a deck has a lot of varying factors. On average, you can expect to pay between $500 and $1,000 to stain a deck. 
  3. What is the best stain for a deck?
    The best stain for a deck depends on the type of wood the deck is made of and the desired finish.