How to Spring Clean and Stain Your Deck
If your deck is beginning to look worn and faded, you can reinvigorate it yourself by following these simple steps. Even better, this project shouldn’t take you more than a weekend to finish.
For decks with only minor fading and scuffing, you may be able to apply a new coat of stain without needing to strip your deck to bare wood. In this case, you’ll need to know the original stain type and color; different products may be incompatible and could lead to eventual cracking or peeling. If you can find the original stain and your deck only shows mild wear, simply clean the deck thoroughly with a scrub brush and an ordinary garden hose. After it dries completely, apply a new coat of the stain according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
However, if you have a deck with more significant wear, or if you want to change its color, you’ll need to strip it down to bare wood before staining it. Before starting, reset any nails that are not flush with the deck’s surface, and sand down any splintered areas with 80-100 grit sandpaper. If necessary, replace any badly damaged boards.
Next, sweep the deck, making sure no debris remains in gaps between boards, and thoroughly wet any plants surrounding your deck so they don’t get damaged by the stain. Next, apply a wood-penetrating chemical stripper to remove any existing stain. Many strippers are concentrated and require dilution before applying; the proper ratio for the brand you choose will be listed on the can.
Using a paint roller or paintbrush, apply a generous coat, taking extra care to reach all gaps and crannies. Allow the stripper to penetrate the wood for the full time required by the manufacturer to lift the old stain.
Use a pressure washer to remove the residual stain and wood stripper from the wood. To avoid damaging the wood, use the lowest sufficient pressure and keep the nozzle moving. If necessary, use a small garden sprayer to apply a wood cleaner or brightener to remove any remaining algae and water stains. Because the cleaning solution should not be allowed to dry, you may want to do this step in sections unless you have a small deck.
When the cleaner has soaked into the wood, rinse it off using either a garden hose or pressure washer on the lowest setting. Be thorough in removing the cleaner to avoid stain failure in the future.
Wait 24 to 48 hours for the deck to dry thoroughly before applying the stain. Ideally, you should apply it either in the morning or in late afternoon, as intense sun can dry the stain before it has a chance to penetrate the wood.
Sweep any dirt and debris from your deck again, then apply the stain with a roller or brush. Let the stain set for a few days before moving your deck furniture back onto the deck and enjoying your rejuvenated deck.