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How to Stain Your Deck

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Exterior deck stained with Benjamin Moore Arborcoat, exterior waterborne stain.

Staining gives your deck a strong layer of protection from wear and tear. With the right staining products - prepared and applied correctly - you can maintain and enjoy your deck for many years to come.

Preparing Your Deck for Staining

  • Remove as many items as you can (planters, hoses, outdoor furniture, light fixtures) and cover other items (steps, plants, sidewalks/paths) with drop cloths.
  • Examine the deck for surface wear, cracked boards, and popped nails.
  • Make any necessary repairs before you stain your deck.

Applying the Stain
Decks are often subjected to extreme environmental conditions (direct sun, cool damp shade, etc.) as well as heavy foot traffic. Proper care of your deck will help ensure the longevity of the finish.

Step 1
After properly preparing the wood, select an inconspicuous place on the actual wood you will be staining and test the stain to be sure you will be pleased with the final color results.

Step 2
First stain the vertical sections of the deck, such as the rails and posts, so that drips will not land on previously finished areas.

Step 3
Once the vertical surfaces are completed, proceed to the deck surface. For deck boards, stain two to three boards at a time to avoid lap marks. Do not stop in the middle of a board, or you will risk developing lap marks. Make sure to wipe up any excess stain.

Deck-Staining Tips

  1. The best way to apply deck stain is to use a roller or spray, followed by backbrushing to even out the stain.
  2. Do not let stain puddle on the surface of the deck. 
  3. Stain does not stay mixed the same way paint does. You will need to stir the stain frequently during application.
  4. To ensure proper stain penetration and even drying results, avoid applying stain in direct sunlight.
  5. Soak the bottom of the deck posts in Benjamin Moore Alkyd Primer (366). This will give the posts added protection from the kind of ground moisture they are subjected to, and will help extend the life of the posts.
Learn about all of our wood stains and find the one that is right for you.

Watch videos on selecting a deck stain, preparing your deck, staining your deck, and protecting the finish for years to come.

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