Nothing adds warmth and character to your outdoor living space like a beautifully stained deck—but how long it stays that way depends on several factors. Climate, exposure, application, quality of materials, and usage can all affect the longevity of your exterior stain job, which may last anywhere between five and fifteen years. If your deck requires updates and you're considering staining a previously stained deck, you can significantly increase your chances of success by knowing what to expect before you begin. Read on for tips and tricks from the experienced professionals at Mr. Handyman, to maximize your investment and increase your satisfaction with the finished product.

Step One: Preparation

Assess the condition of your deck in case any repairs need to be made prior to staining. This is 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 surface of the deck 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:

Power Washer

Most power washers have an optional detergent feed built-in. Fill the container with a deck cleaning agent according to the manufacturer’s instructions, to ensure all traces of dirt, mildew, and stains are removed from the surface of the wood.

Manual Cleaning

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 it has been completed.

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

Step Two: Choose Your Stain

Exterior wood stain is available in either a semi-transparent or solid finish, and which type you use will depend on what is already on your deck. A semi-transparent stain allows the natural beauty of the wood to shine through, while the solid stain is opaque. When staining on top of stain it's important to choose the right type based on the current finish. If your existing deck stain is:

  • Light - Apply a similar or darker color of the stain with no additional preparation required.
  • Dark - If applying a lighter-color you will need to sand the wood to remove the current stain.
  • Semi-transparent - Cover the existing stain with semi-transparent or solid stain.
  • Solid - Apply another solid finish stain; semi-transparent stain is engineered to bind with the surface of the wood and won't bind well to a solid surface.

Step Three: 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 on it, 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 small sections.
  • Apply a thin coat to prevent pooling.
  • Allow the first coat to dry thoroughly before adding the second one.

Your local Mr. Handyman provides expert services for all your interior and exterior projects including deck staining. Call Mr. Handyman today at (877) 256-3376 to schedule an appointment! To find out the benefits of giving your house a fresh coat of paint, as well, check out tips from a fellow Neighborly company, Five Star Painting.