How Often Should I Stain My Deck?

Deck maintenance is an important home upkeep task. A well-maintained deck not only looks great, but also lasts longer.

In general, you should stain your deck every two to three years. But many variables can affect what your deck’s maintenance schedule needs to be, such as the type of deck material, the current condition of the wood, and other factors.

One thing’s for sure: whether you’re firing up the grill, hosting a party, or just reading a book outdoors, you deserve a beautiful deck.

Allow the experts at Five Star Painting to help you establish a deck maintenance routine for a great-looking finish and durable results. Explore the following topics to get a better idea of how often you should stain your hard surfaces:

Image of stained exterior wooden deck.

  • When to stain a new deck
  • Drying times for different types of wood
    • Pressure-treated lumber
    • Kiln-dried lumber
    • Green lumber
  • How often to paint a deck
  • Staining older decks

When to Stain a New Deck

Image of stained wood deck.

New wooden decks should always receive a coat of paint or stain. Generally, all new decks should dry out for at least 30 days before stain or paint is applied. Although a finish can be applied immediately after construction, more work is involved — so it’s best to let the wood fully dry before finishing.

Keep in mind that this is a general guideline; the timeline will depend on your climate. For example, wood cures faster in a dry climate than it does in a humid one.

Drying Times for Different Types of Wood

The type of wood your deck is made of also affects its drying time. We’ve put together drying times for different popular wood types below.

Pressure-Treated Lumber

Pressure-treated lumber should dry for at least six months before stain or any wood treatment is applied. A good test is to pour water on the boards. If it beads up, it’s still too wet. If the water soaks in, it’s ready for deck staining.

Kiln-Dried Lumber

Most lumber you buy at a hardwood store is kiln-dried. You should allow this wood to dry for at least one to two months before staining or painting.

Green Lumber

Wood that is freshly cut is called green lumber. Don’t confuse this with green-treated lumber (wood that has been given an anti-rot treatment). While greenwood not the best material to work with (it warps and cracks as it dries), some still use it due to its availability. Green lumber should be given at least one year per inch of thickness to dry — or more.

When it’s finally time to stain green lumber, the goal is to return it to its like-new appearance. You can remove the gray color with a light pressure washing, scrubbing, and a good wood cleaner.

How Often to Paint a Deck

If you have a painted deck, you should repaint it once signs of peeling , bubbling, or flaking appear. However, while paint is ideal for finishing walls and vertical surfaces, we don’t recommend it for decks.

No matter how well-cured the wood is, it will shrink and expand at different rates. The paint on the wood can’t always keep up with this process, which is why it often peels off sooner than a stain does.

The horizontal surfaces on decks are exposed to harsh elements (sun, snow, rain, etc.) 24/7 and endure a lot of wear and tear, which is another reason why paint makes a poor deck finish. If your deck has already been painted, yearly maintenance should include lightly sanding the surface and applying a fresh coat of paint to any area that is peeling.

Staining Older Decks

Many homeowners may wonder, “How often should I stain my deck?” To keep a deck looking good and prolong the life of the wood, you should stain it every two to three years. Other signs your deck needs staining are:

      • The deck has mold or mildew buildup.
      • Water soaks into the deck boards and no longer beads up.
      • The stain color is wearing off.

Image of Five Star Painting service professional staining a wood deck.

It’s difficult to achieve a uniform color and look on the entire deck if all the wood isn’t stained at the same time. If the stain is wearing faster in particular areas, the entire deck should be retreated. Contact a professional service for more information.

Five Star Painting Professional Desk Maintenance and Staining

Staining and maintaining a deck is complicated and time-consuming. Deck staining requires proper cleaning, preparation, and application processes to ensure a smooth, even finish. This will ensure that the stain lasts and that you won’t have to restain the deck in a year. Don’t take shortcuts or rush the prep work.

Image of a power washing hose cleaning dirt from a wood deck.

To have your deck look great and enjoy the peace of mind knowing that the stain will last, call Five Star Painting now for a free deck staining estimate. We also offer additional exterior home painting services that'll leave your deck looking great. Our pressure washing services will prep the wood to ensure it’s clean. While we’re there, our carpentry services can make any necessary deck repairs.

Call us or schedule a free estimate online to restore the look of your deck today.