As the snow begins to melt and the weather begins to warm, all of winter’s harshness is beginning to show. Whether it s the green mold rearing its ugly head or the stain that is starting to peel, when it comes to decks, a little neglect goes a long way.  If hiring a contractor just does not seem to be in the budget this year and you are ready to take on the project yourself, there are a few helpful tips that will give you a beautiful deck for years to come.

What you will need:

  • Pressure Washer 2000psi or higher (Expect to rent for $50 day)
  • Enough Garden Hose to Reach the Deck ($30 for 50’)
  • High Quality Stain ($35-$45 per gallon)
  • Two 3” Angle Sash Brushes ($12-$17 Each)
  • Two Empty Gallon Cans ($5 Each)
  • One 4” Deck Staining Brush With A Screw-In Handle (Approx. $15)
  • 4-8’ Extension Pole ($25)
  • A few 4x15 drop clothes ($10-20 Each)
  • Cotton Rags ($5)
  • A Friend Who Owes You a Favor (Free)
  • Sunshine and lots of it (After washing, you will need a day for the deck to dry out, dry weather throughout the duration of the project and a day after for it to cure)

Deck StainingSTEP 1: Prepping the Deck

As in any paint/stain job, prep is the most important step.  Pressure washing is a skill all of its own so if you have it in the budget, you may want to consider hiring an experienced contractor for this step.  I do not want to scare you off but if you are not careful, you can easily dig into the wood and leave unsightly marks. Remove all of the deck furniture, plants, bbqs, and anything else near the deck that will be in your work area.  You will want to rent a pressure washer from your local home/garden or paint store with a psi (pressure per square inch) rating of at least 2000.  Most stores will be under 3000 so anything in this range will be sufficient.  Make sure to ask them on how to set it up, and check that the proper tip is included (they usually come with 3-4, be sure to use the 15-degree tip).  When washing the deck, it is imperative to keep moving.  The water comes out at a very high rate so don’t be afraid to pull you some you tube videos so you can see the proper motion.  I always start at the railings and work my way down.  

STEP 2 Staining the Railings/Spindles

This is where the buddy system comes into play.  Lay a drop cloth down on the outside of the deck where you are working to catch any spills.  Pour about 4-6” of stain into each empty gallon can and give each person his or her 3” brush.  Starting on one end, have one person on the inside and one on the out.  Work together so you can make sure to hit all four sides of the railings.  You want to make sure that you paint each board in its entirety. Letting any board dry before you paint it in entirety will leave an unsightly lap-mark and make the stain look uneven. 

STEP 3 Staining the Floor Boards

Depending on the size of the deck you can complete the board staining with one person.  Attach the 4” deck brush to your extension pole and work out of a can with stain in it.  Starting on one end of your deck you will “cut in” the first few inches of 3-5 boards with your angle sash brush.  Then using a sweeping motion with your deck brush stain the “cut-in” boards entirety.  You will repeat this step until all of the floorboards are stained.  Do not walk on the deck for 24-48 hours depending on temperature. 

There are a variety of finishes, colors, and coats required when it comes to picking your stain.  Personally, I always use Zar or Cabot brand stains.  I have found that they hold up better then others over time and I love the look of their finishes.  Feel free to search stain ratings and talk with your local paint store for suggestions.