When Should I Stain My Deck?

Jan 28, 2020

Doing routine maintenance to your deck is an important factor in the longevity of your wood. A well-maintained deck will look better, last longer, and also increase your property value if you are looking to sell your home in the future. There is a wide range of factors that impact how often you should stain your deck. When living in a state like Ohio, the main factor that will determine your deck maintenance is the weather. Because we can experience harsh winters and other volatile conditions, your wood needs to be treated properly to keep looking great for years to come. When you consult the experts and have a deck maintenance gameplan ready, you can enjoy all of the outdoor time in comfort during the beautiful Columbus summers.

The Best Time of Year for Deck Staining

The two main factors that determine the best time of year for deck staining are time and weather. Because Ohio weather can be temperamental, this can be tricky. The larger your deck is, the longer your deck staining project will take. A safe estimate for a moderately-sized deck is 1-2 days. If you have an existing deck that is in need of a good power washing, it is safe to add at least an extra day on to your total project time.

A common misconception is that Spring and Summer are the best seasons for deck staining. This is based on the premise that because of the heat, it makes for an ideal time to stain. While this may be true in dry climates, in Ohio, Spring and Summer are the humid months. If staining is done too early it can lead to cracking or peeling. If it’s done when the temperature high, it can lead to the stain evaporating before it’s had ample time to penetrate the wood. The perfect time for deck staining is when the air and wood temperature is between 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Choose a time-of-day where you are not applying in direct sunlight and check the forecast to make sure it isn’t going to rain in the next 24-48 hours after staining!

New Deck Staining

If you have a new wooden deck built, it should always be stained. How soon it should be stained depends on the climate and the type of wood your deck is made of. In a climate like the one we have in the Columbus, OH area, it is best to err on the side of caution because we experience higher humidity during the warmer months. There are multiple types of wood that decks may be constructed with, and each has a different recommended time frame for staining.

Green Lumber

Green lumber is the term given to wood that is freshly cut. This wood isn’t best suited for decks, as it can warp and crack when drying, but its availability can make it an attractive option when building. The general rule is to give green lumber at least one year per inch of thickness to dry before staining it. When it is ready for staining, a pressure wash will be needed to get the wood clean and looking new!

Kiln-Dried Lumber

If you bought your wood at a lumber or hardware store, chances are it’s kiln-dried. Because it has been dried already, you will only need to wait 1-2 months before staining/painting.

Pressure-Treated Lumber

Pressure-treated lumber needs the least amount of time before staining. It’s best practice to allow at least six months of drying time before applying staining to pressure-treated lumber. If you aren’t sure that the wood is ready, you can pour water on one of the boards. If the water soaks into the wood, it’s ready to be stained!

Staining Existing Decks

The health and longevity of your deck depend solely on the maintenance gameplan you have set in place. As a general rule, your deck should be stained every 2-3 years. This can change, however, if you are in an area of high-humidity or especially volatile weather. The signs to look for when determining if you need deck staining are:

  • The stain color of the wood is wearing off
  • Water soaks into the boards easily
  • There is visible mold or mildew

Horizontal surfaces tend to wear the fastest and can be treated first if you don’t want to go through the process of staining your entire deck. Keep in mind, however, that it is difficult to have a uniform “look” if parts of your deck are stained at different times from one another. It is important to consult an expert in deck staining services to get a complete evaluation.

Deck Staining Colors

Another thing to consider when starting your deck staining project is the color of staining. There are three main questions you must ask yourself:

What are the weather conditions where your home is located?

Solid stains provide more protection from the damaging rays of the sun, while more transparent stains are better in wet climates because they allow excess moisture to escape.

What type of wood is your deck made of?

If your deck is composed of expensive, beautiful wood, it may behoove you to use a light, transparent stain to highlight the grain and texture. If your deck is older and faded, a solid stain can help mask the mismatched colors of the boards that have been replaced over time.

What is your ideal look?

If you are after the rustic look of natural wood, choosing a light-colored transparent stain can add color while allowing the beautiful wood grain to show. The full coverage of a solid stain gives you a modern look with many color options also available (think fun patterns and designs).

The key to success lies not only in the prep work but also in the selection and application of the deck stain. We are deck staining experts with years of experience working in Columbus area homes. We can provide you with a full evaluation of your deck and offer a wide array of choices when it comes to deck staining. Contact us today to get your project started!