The official blog of

Atomic Painting Inc

Exterior and interior painting company servicing Chicago and north suburbs.

Stain Your Deck- step by step


A lot homeowners who have chosen to stain their decks haven’t been 100% satisfied with the results. However, you shouldn’t be discouraged because if you follow the following steps, you’ll certainly benefit from great results that will last longer.

Step 1: Keep your cool

Don’t start staining if you don’t have enough time. Every step of the process is important and requires an important amount of time, but the results are worth it. First of all, every piece of lumber that has been pressure-treated needs to be weathered for at least two months in order to dry out completely. Once the lumber is dried, you can start staining it. You should also make sure that the stain strippers applied on the surface are not rinsed off until the previous finishes are broken down. Plus, you should always keep an eye on the weather forecast and start your project only when the weather is favorable.

Step 2: Preparation

The final results depend on the attention you pay during the preparation. The wood should be cleaned carefully before the staining process, regardless of how old the deck is. New lumber should also be cleaned in order to remove any trace of mill scales. This step is very important, as wood stains can’t penetrate into the surface because of the mill scales. If your deck is older, you have to clean it and remove all the contaminants such as mildew, dirt, and old stains. In this case, the best solution is to use percarbonate wood cleaners. Not only that they effectively clean the wood, but they’re not dangerous. If you come across a cluster of stains, the cleaning process may become more complicated, but not impossible. In this case, only a stain stripper can help you.

You should pay attention to the directions before using strippers, as they can be more caustic than other cleaning products. The great part is that many stain manufacturers provide some instructional videos in order to help you use them correctly.

Step 3: Brighteners Can Be Beautiful

Don’t forget to use wood brighteners, as many people tend to overlook this step. Besides, this is the easiest part of the process so why would you skip it? Wood brighteners are a true miracle, as they help the wood surface open up and neutralize any stain strippers previously used and they also make old wood look as if it was new. It’s quite impressive that a single product can bring so many benefits, and yet people tend to overlook it. All you have to do is purchase a wood brightener, spray it on the surface, and then rinse it off.

Step 4: Don’t Stop Rinsing

Don’t forget to use a lot of water, especially if you’ve used many cleaning chemicals. Although most chemicals are presented as harmless and completely safe, you still have to rinse them off carefully after using them. If they are not completely eliminated, they can resurface in time, leading to the destruction of the new stain. Bear in mind that once you’ve finished cleaning the deck, you must rinse it up carefully to make sure that no chemicals are left on the wood.

Step 5: Don’t Buy Cheap Stuff

Once the deck has been cleaned and dried, you can start the staining process. However, bear in mind that a more expensive stain product usually gives better results than a cheaper one. It’s common knowledge that the better an ingredient is, the more it will cost. So don’t expect a cheap product to have the same resins, mildewcides or pigments as an expensive one. That’s very unlikely.

Step 6: Consider Waterborne Stains

In case you didn’t know, water based stains have gained a lot of popularity lately. Although you may be reluctant to try them at first, you should know that these products are way better than conventional alternatives, as they’re more durable. Manufacturers were forced to improve their products, and their efforts eventually paid off. Water based stains have a wide range of advantages, especially the high-quality ones: water and soap can easily clean them up, they are designed to face the weathering process better than other products, and they don’t consist of solvents that cause breathing problems. Plus, they can be used even if the wood isn’t completely dried.

Step 7: Read and Follow the Directions

Products have different labels and therefore, different directions. Reading the label can help you obtain a lot of information about the product, and you don’t even have to waste much time. First of all, you should verify the number of layers that have to be applied, how much time you have to wait before applying a new coat, how much you have to wait after cleaning or until the wood is weathered. Reading the label could help you get an answer to many questions.

Step 8: Less Is More

If you want to stain your deck perfectly, you are advised to use a wood stain that is semi-transparent. These products give a natural look to the wood, allowing it to breathe, and are easy to clean. However, make sure you read carefully the directions and avoid applying too much product on the wood. When there’s too much stain applied, the wood can be covered with a film that is similar to paint. This film won’t allow the wood to breathe, causing it to peel. In conclusion, never apply more stain than the wood can absorb!

Step 9: Paint Brush, the King

Deck stain can be applied using various methods, such as rollers and pump-up garden sprayers. Whatever method you decide to use, make sure you also have a paint brush. Paint brushes are the best method of applying the stain, as the friction caused by them helps the wood absorb a larger quantity of stain. So, whether you choose to roll or spray the stain, use a paint brush for creating a better penetration of the stain. If you want everything to go by the book, make sure you buy a high-quality paint brush.


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