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DIY: Make your deck the focal point in your yard by staining it

If you’ve had a new deck built by a decking contractor and want to stain it yourself, or find your current deck could use a face lift, having it stained will instantly give it a fresh new look for summer. Turn the project into a DIY to take advantage of the nice outdoor weather. Our guide makes it easier for you to get the job done so your deck will be ready for your next backyard party.

What you need

Before we walk you through the necessary steps to thoroughly clean your deck before you begin the staining process, take a look at this breakdown of tools you need to complete the project. The prices we’ve included are estimates. Visit your local hardware store for accurate costs.

Clear plastic$17 (one roll)
80-grit sand paper$6
Deck cleaner$15
Pole sander$12
Pump sprayer$30
Paint brush$7
Safety mask$28
Paint roller with extension$25
Rubber gloves$10
Putty knife$8
Estimated project cost$250

Be warned! Do not attempt this DIY if you don’t have the time to do the work, for the process takes place over a few days. If time and patience isn’t on your side, be sure to contact one of our decking contractors who would be happy to assist with your decking needs.


Prepping the deck for staining

Before you open up the paint can, first you must clean your deck, whether or not it’s brand new. After all, staining is a lot of work. You want your deck to be perfect!

  1. Remove all deck furniture and other furnishings. Make sure they’re moved way from your work area. To ensure their protection, use plastic sheets to keep them covered as you’re working away.
  2. Give your neighbouring plants and shrubbery a watering and cover them with plastic to prevent any damage from occurring during the staining process.
  3. Using the pole sander and 80-grit paper, sand splintered areas for a smooth finish. Wear a safety mask as you’re working.
  4. Use the broom to get rid of any loose debris. Get rid of dirt between the cracks of the board with a putty knife.
  5. Read the directions on the cleaning solution. Some require the deck surface to be damp, while others require the surface to be dry.
  6. Using a paint roller with an extension handle, apply the cleaning solution across the deck. Don’t leave any puddles behind.
  7. If you’re lucky enough to have a friend helping you out, let them be in charge of the broom. Have them spread away and puddles as you apply the cleaner.
  8. With the deck still wet, scrub the surface with a brush or broom.
  9. Let the cleaner do its job – leave the deck soaked in it for roughly 10 minutes, but be sure to check the solution’s instructions.
  10. Rinse the deck with a garden hose and wash equipment with soapy water.
  11. Rinse off the plastic sheet covering your outdoor belongings.

Want a visual? This video gives you an idea of how to prepare your deck before staining:

Ready to get your hands dirty? Don’t put those gloves on just yet! You want your deck to dry for at least two days before applying a sealer.

Staining the deck

Now you’re ready to move onto the next step: staining your squeaky clean deck.

Each staining product will offer different directions, so be sure to read them carefully. Here are some other tips to keep in mind before you begin:

  • Don’t apply the stain in direct sun since the finish will dry too quickly and won’t have any opportunity to actually absorb.
  • Regularly sweep off debris as you’re staining.
  • Use a moisture meter that tests the moisture content of the wood to find out if the deck is dry enough to stain.
  • If you don’t have that tool on hand, press the head of a flat screwdriver into the decking. If moisture appears, you have your answer: too wet to stain.

Before you get started, you must first choose a colour stain you want to apply for your deck. This video will guide you in your choice:

Here’s our step-by-step guide to staining your deck:

  1. Make sure the deck is dry.
  2. Remove all deck furniture and cover neighbouring plants with plastic covers so they don’t get damaged.
  3. Sweep away loose debris and clean between the cracks of the baseboards.
  4. Stir the stain according to the manufacturer directions.
  5. Using a paint roller with an extension, apply a thin, even coat of stain over two to three boards. Work slowly and apply two thin coats as opposed to one thick coating.
  6. Be on the lookout for puddles. While you apply the stain, have a friend sweep away puddles of stain with a broom.
  7. Repeat steps 3, 5 and 6 for the remainder of the deck.
  8. In hard to reach places, switch to a hand paintbrush for an even finish.
  9. If you used a plastic sheet to protect plants and furniture, rinse them off with a hose before removing and discarding.

Give the deck time to dry completely.

Want to see how your deck can be transformed with this DIY? Take a look at this video:

Ta-Da! You’re armed with the tools you need to finish your deck…unless the thought of this DIY makes you want to run the phone and call an expert. That’s fine and we can help you out with that! We have an extensive list of decking contractors who can get your deck in tiptop shape by the time that dinner party rolls around. What are you waiting for?

How neat are these before and afters?

How neat are these before and afters?

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