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The following describes our process for setting up a job site, covering surfaces and a deck staining techniques and tips.  Our how to deck staining process will ensure your project will go smoothly.

We’ve created a material list, a step by step guide and a quiz to test your knowledge.

Tools Needed:

Many of these tools can be purchased from your local hardware store.  We’ve included links to our Amazon store, which helps support our how-to program.


1.  Pre-Arrival

Please refer to service standards post for instructions on how to communicate with a client and organize for a job.

2.  Stripping & Pressure Cleaning

Please refer to our post on how to strip and pressure clean a deck.

3. Job site preparation

  • Test wood with a moisture meter. For TWP deck stain moisture content should be under 15%.
  • Its preferable to organize tools over a rock or mulched surface.  Setting up over grass could lead to grass yellowing from drop clothes over a long hot day.  In addition, paint thinner when spilled on grass will kill grass immediately.  Never pour thinner over a grass surface.
  • Using 3m hand masker and 1 1/2 inch intertape, mask siding where the deck railings meet up with the siding.
  • Use a 4 by 15 ft drop clothe on the deck and surround the lower ground level surfaces with drop clothes.
  • If railings are being painted and spindles are plastic or metal, mask each individual spindle with tape.  If we are applying translucent or semi transparent type stain, leave them unmasked and be prepared to wipe down with paint thinner and a rag as you work.  If we’re only painting railings and floor is going to be translucent stain, mask edge of flooring with 9 inch paper where it is close to the railings.

4. Application

  • Open stain/paint can and stir until all pigments have been mixed.
  • If staining, apply stain using a 1/2 full can of stain and a deck stain brush.  Stain boards from end to end completing the entire piece of work.  Work in sections and check back over your work after 10 minutes to back brush drips.  If painting, use a paint tray with paint tray liner, mini roller and paint brush for application.
  • Its easiest to apply stain/paint if two people are working on a deck together.  The person on the outside of the railings should use a multi ladder and pivot tool for ladder safety.  If painting the railings you will also want a bucket hook and a 1 gallon paint grid.  Start on the railings and work your way around until railings have been completed before moving onto pillars and deck flooring.
  • Once the railings are completed, remove masking covering siding by railings.  Lay drop clothes under deck.
  • Screw extensions or broom handles into deck brushes (if stain is being applied) or into a 9 inch roller frame with 9 inch roller cover (if paint is applied)
  • Apply translucent stain to deck floor.  Go two boards at a time the entire length of the deck.  Its important not to stop or do too many boards at a time because you will get flashing in your finish.  For TWP deck stain (most common) we apply two coats wet on wet.  Apply stain to entire deck floor (not stairs) and when finished go back to the beginning of the flooring and re-coat.  If applying sikkens, deckscapes or other film forming stains you have to apply two coats wet on wet with a different method.  You want to do 4 boards, then go back to first two and re-coat, then next two unstained pieces and so on.  Sikkens and film forming stains are more sensitive to flashing so you need to apply your wet on wet coat fairly soon after you apply your first coat.
  • After finishing the base of the deck, stain the stair flooring.  After completing the 1st coat go to the top of the stairs and re-coat if using TWP.

5.  Clean-up

  • Fold drop clothes and organize tools
  • Place deck stain brushes into 1 gallon can half filled with paint thinner.  Then place 1 gallon can inside a 5 gallon bucket with lid for storage.
  • Any brushes used with latex paint should get washed thoroughly with water and combed out with a wire brush.
  • Check siding for any stain or paint.  Use a rag clean with paint thinner and then water (if oil stain is on siding).  Its important to clean after with water so residue from thinner is removed.  If latex based product is on siding, clean with dirtex cleaner.
  • Check concrete areas for stain or paint.  Use nylon cleaning brush on rough concrete and a rag on smooth or stamped concrete for removal.
  • Pack items into vehicle, hand customer quality scorecard and invoice package.  Deck should be ready to use next day

4.  Next Steps

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