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How Many Coats of Deck Stain Should I Apply? 9 Tips & Tricks

Bench on Deck

Bench on Deck

The deck is one of the first things that people notice when they come to our homes. As such, it is imperative to keep it in good condition, especially when you are looking to sell, as a well-maintained deck can increase the value of your home.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature can take a toll on your deck, leaving it unsightly and even hazardous.

The good news is that you can avoid that if you apply deck stain properly. A well-applied deck stain not only protects the wood from the elements but also improves its aesthetics tremendously.

However, one of the most common questions DIY-ers have when it comes to this activity is concerning the number of deck stain coats they should apply. You have to come to the right place, as this article will discuss everything you need to know about this topic.

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How Many Coats of Deck Stain Should You Apply?

Deck Staining
Photo Credit By: CC0 Public Domain, pxhere

Two. While some products require you only to use one coat (always read the manufacturer’s directions), the vast majority of experts recommend applying two coats. Two coats are better than one.

When applying stain on a properly cleaned deck, you will find that the wood absorbs the stain well into its internal structure. As a result, the outer surface will still need an extra layer for protection. A second coat, therefore, ensures that the wood is well protected, thus enhancing its longevity.

9 Tips for Expert Deck Staining

Though applying stain might seem like a straightforward job, there is a reason there is such a massive difference between the work of a professional and that of an amateur. Pros do not take shortcuts.

The following tips will allow you to stain your deck like a pro.

1. Ensure the Weather Conditions are Right

You cannot apply stain to damp wood, as it will not adhere to the surface. Therefore, check the weather forecast to identify the days with the least likelihood for precipitation of any kind. Too much sunlight, on the other hand, is not a good thing since it will cause the stain to dry too fast before it penetrates into the wood. The opportune time is during dry days when temperatures are between 50° F and 90° F.

2. Prepare Your Surface

Deck Stain
Photo Credit By: CC0 Public Domain, pxhere

Proper preparation is key to outstanding results. In this case, it means ensuring that the wood has been cleaned well before the staining process starts. It does not matter whether your deck is brand-new or old. In the case of brand-new wood, cleaning allows you to remove milling byproducts that might prevent the stain from penetrating the wood’s pores. When it comes to older decks, cleaning allows you to remove old stains, dirt, and mildew.

Experts recommend using wood cleaners consisting of sodium percarbonate (oxygen bleach), as despite being highly effective at cleaning wood, they do not have an adverse effect on plant life. Moreover, they do not pose any health risk. However, if your deck has a lot of old stains, sodium percarbonate wood cleaners might not be an effective solution. In such a case, consider using stain strippers.

Exercise caution when using stain strippers, as they are incredibly caustic. Therefore, pay close attention to the directions for use. Fortunately, stain strippers are so effective at removing old stains that you might only have to apply them once.

If you have a troubling stain – especially smaller ones – that won’t come off regardless of what you use, consider using a palm-type sander on it once the deck is dry. Such stains are infamous for showing through new finishes, which is why you must do everything you can to remove them.

3. Use a Brightener

Non-professionals often make the mistake of forgetting to use a brightener when preparing their deck for stain application. It is an unfortunate mistake, as brighteners improve the results dramatically. Additionally, they are incredibly easy to apply, meaning there is no reason for not applying them.

A brightener is beneficial for the following reasons:

  • It opens up wood pores to improve penetration
  • It neutralizes the effect of any stain strippers used
  • Rejuvenates old wood to make it look new again

As you can see, not using a brightener can compromise the quality of your results. Therefore, remember to use one. To apply, simply spray the product and allow it to sit for about ten minutes, and then rinse it off.

4. Don’t be Cheap

After preparing the deck, allow it to dry before applying the stain. However, despite how tight of a budget you might be on, do not go for cheap staining products. This is because you will get what you pay for; premium products cost a premium, and it will show in the results.

5. Don’t Skip Water-Based Stains

For the longest time, the smart thing to do was to avoid water-based products due to their unreliability. However, with improvements in manufacturing processes, as well as quality regulations, some water-based staining products are now better than conventional oil-based products.

Some of the advantages that water-based alternatives have over oil-based staining products include:

  • Safer to work with since they do not contain pungent solvents
  • Do not require the wood to be completely before application
  • Shorter drying time
  • More resistant to weathering

Nonetheless, this will depend on the brand. Therefore, do your homework to identify good water-based staining products.

6. Read the Instructions Carefully

Each product comes with its specific instructions for use. Therefore, study them carefully before applying for best results. Some of the key information to note include:

  • The appropriate number of coats to apply
  • How long to wait after preparing the wood
  • Length of waiting periods between coat applications

Even if you have the process down pat, make sure to read the instructions every time you use a new product.

7. Go Easy on the Stain

Experts recommend using a semi-transparent stain for decks. This is because it not only allows the wood to breathe but also allow the wood’s natural grain to show. Additionally, they are easier to apply, as well as clean.

Therefore, less is more when using a semi-transparent stain. Even though over-applying can result in a nice and lustrous finish, it is likely to peel off with time since it prevents the wood from breathing well.

8. Don’t Forget the Paint Brush

People use various ways to apply deck stain, with the most common being using a roller or a pump-up garden sprayer. However, for best results, consider also using a paintbrush. This is because a paintbrush allows you to stain deep into the wood, thanks to how it agitates the wood pores, opening them up to allow the stain to penetrate.

Therefore, regardless of your application method, ensure that you utilize a paintbrush to back-brush the stain for deeper penetration.

9. Take Your Time

Deck staining is not a task you can afford to do in a hurry if you want excellent results. Therefore, take on this task only when you have enough time on your hands.

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In Summary

There you have it, folks; two coats of deck stain is what most experts recommend. Nonetheless, this will depend on the particular product you use, as some insist that you only use one.

Featured Image Credit: JayMantri, pixabay


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