How to prepare your deck surface prior to staining:
Pressure washing the deck surface prior to deck staining is vital. Using high-pressure to strip loose or adhering stain from the surface is not recommended, as the wood will become frayed. Soaps containing bleach or a mold remover should be used. After the wash, sanding any loose stain or rough areas of the wood is necessary. Hammer and tighten loose nails and screws prior to staining.
Choosing a stain can be difficult. If your deck was stained previously, the best option is to match that color and keep it the same, but you do have other options. If you have a semi-transparent stain, it should remain the same, unless you decide to switch to a solid color; then you could choose any color you prefer. If the deck is currently a solid color, you can choose to change it to another solid color, but it may require additional coats to fully cover. If you are starting from brand new wood, you can choose a fully transparent (clear), toner (trace amount of color), semi-transparent or solid color stain. All these act as sealers and protect the wood. The wood of a clear transparent will turn gray with time, while the others will keep their color.
How Often to Re-coat:
Because decks are horizontal surfaces, they face many challenges other wood surfaces on the outside of a house do not. The sun hits more direct. Rain, snow and other elements land and stay on the surface for long periods of time, deteriorating the coatings. Washing and applying a coat of stain every 2-3 years is recommended to keep the wood in great condition. Any vertical surfaces (spindles, skirts, etc.) could be re-coated on a 4-6 year rotation. Failure to re-coat at this rate may cause damage to the wood (warping and splitting).