Skip to Content

How To Stain A Deck To Last – 4 Big Tips To Success!

For many, there is no more daunting chore than painting or staining their deck or porch.

But it certainly is a must when it comes to keeping a home looking neat and tidy!

With a wood house and back porch, and a wood garage, barn, pavilion, chicken coop and cabin – you can say we are a bit well-versed on the art of painting!

how to stain a deck
With a lot of wood structures on the farm, painting and staining is a must!

But although it may seem like a lot of maintenance, we simply love and prefer the natural look of wood.

And quite honestly, with a pro-active approach and a few key painting and staining tips, it has been fairly easy to maintain.

Here is at a look at 4 key tips on how to stain a deck ( or any exterior wood surface) to last.

How To Stain A Deck To Last- 4 Big Keys

#1 Choosing A Durable Stain or Paint

If you want that newly stained deck or porch to last, then choosing the right stain or paint is a must!

When it comes to stains, a solid stain will always wear longer and outlast semi-transparent or transparent stains.

Think of it as a good, better, best when it comes to the three.

staining the back porch
We use a solid stain on our back porch floor. It holds up well to all of the foot traffic.

A transparent stain will show all of the wood grain and materials. But will not have the staying power of a semi-transparent or solid stain.

A full solid stain provides the most durable and longest lasting finish. While a semi-transparent stain is kind of a compromise. It will show some of the wood detail, but cover much better than a transparent stain.

With paint, it is the same way in regards to flat, satin, semi-gloss and gloss. Gloss will always hold up the best and last the longest.

We use a semi-transparent stain on the house to allow some of the cedar wood grain to show.

We use a semi-transparent stain for the cedar on our house. It allows the cedar wood to show through a bit, but still provides fairly good protection.

Staining or Painting Floors

When it comes to porch or deck floors, it is always best to choose either a solid stain or a gloss or semi-gloss paint. There is so much wear and tear, they need all the extra protection they can get!

#2 Power Washing The Deck – How To Stain A Deck To Last

If you want that stain or paint to last, then it is vital to start with a clean surface.

That means prior to putting on that first brush stroke, your deck and porch patio needs a little TLC. And in this case, the “C” stands for cleaning.

Power washing a deck is a great way to get the boards clean. But you need to allow it time to dry out!

But how you perform that cleaning can make all the difference in the final paint job.

Many folks reach for their power washer to clean their deck and patio floors. And it can be a great tool for sure when used correctly.

Be sure to use a tip that will clean but not gouge the wood. A fan tip with a 40 to 60 degree angle works best without damaging wood. See : Power Tip Kit For Pressure Washing

But once that deck is cleaned, it is even more important to allow the deck to dry thoroughly before staining or painting. Many folks will power wash in the morning, and stain or paint the same day or next.

power washer fan tip nozzles
Choosing the right nozzle for cleaning your deck and porch wood is a must.

Unfortunately, in almost all cases, although the wood may appear to be dry, it’s not! And nothing will keep a paint or staining job from sticking than moist wood.

Deck and patio wood should be allowed to dry out for at least 3 to 5 days in full sun after being power washed. And a full week of dry weather is even better.

#3 Use A Quality Brush & Quality Paint

The old saying of “you get what you pay for” certainly applies here. Choosing a high quality paint or stain will go a long way when it comes to keeping your deck protected and looking good.

And choosing the right brush is just as critical.

For oil based paints and stains, use a natural bristle brush. And for latex (water-based) paints, use a synthetic-bristle brush.

We use a Wooster Bravo Stainer brush for our back porch staining, and love that it has a wide, 4″ coverage. More importantly, it doesn’t leave behind bristles! At around $12, it is a small price to pay for a good paint or stain job.

how to stain a deck
Our favorite – the Wooster Bravo Stainer brush

And what about spraying as an option? For us, it is simply not a durable option. By brushing and rolling, the paint or stain can be pushed into the cracks and crevices much better.

And that of course leads to a better, long-lasting finish, which gives us a little more time to work on some fun outdoor DIY projects at the farm. See : 3 Great DIY Outdoor Projects To Create A Low Cost Outdoor Living Space

#4 Frequency

This is by far one of the biggest tips of all. And unfortunately, one that is probably the most-often neglected.

How often you stain and maintain your deck (or any exterior wood surface) makes all the difference in keeping the chore manageable.

Think of it like weeding a garden.

If you head out every day in the garden for a few minutes to pull a few weeds, the task never becomes too involved.

weeding the garden
Painting is like weeding – the more often you do it, the less work it is!

But wait a few weeks and head out, and you will be overwhelmed with weeds!

Keeping a deck stained is exactly the same way. A coat of paint or stain every few years, while the deck boards are still in good condition, can be a simple task.

But allow them to chip, wear and warp for too long, and you are suddenly faced with a major project.

Floors need the most attention by far. We have found putting a quick coat of stain on our porch floor each spring is the answer. It takes us about an hour, and keeps the floor in tip-top shape.

It is much better than having to sand, fix boards, and have a complete overhaul by waiting too long.

I think the old saying “I would rather pay a little now, than a whole lot more later!” applies here in terms of work effort.

Happy Staining and Painting! Jim and Mary.

As always, feel free to email us at with comments, questions, or to simply say hello! To receive our 3 Home, Garden, Recipe and Simple Life articles each week, sign up for our free email list that is located in the middle of this article. This article may contain affiliate links.