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How Often Should I Stain a Wood Deck?

Discover how often you should stain your wood deck in this article along with some additional knowledge your can learn!

Varnishing wooden deck using paint brush.

How often should I stain a wood deck? This is a common question many people like to ask. A wooden deck should be stained every one to five years, depending on the stain’s type, brand, and solid content.

In addition, the staining frequency is dependent on the deck’s condition, new or old. Fading, wearing, and peeling issues also influence how often you need to stain the deck.

Type of Stain

Applying protective varnish on deck patio.

Since there is no one-size-fits-all stain, the type of stain used on a deck influences how often the structure should be treated. The primary stain attribute affecting how long strain protects wood is opacity or transparency. According to Olympics, “opacity determines how much wood grain one wants to see after their deck is stained.”  

If I apply a clear or semi-transparent stain on my deck, I often reapply a new coat every two years. That’s because clear or semi-transparent wood doesn’t last for long. Most wooden grain is also seen when the wood is stained with clear or semi-transparent stain. This type of stain is ideal for a new deck.

If I apply a semi-solid or solid color stain on my deck, it will take me about five years to reapply the stain. Unlike clear or semi-transparent stains, semi-solid and solid stains have huge amounts of pigments. They form a thin layer on the stained deck and provide long-term protection against wear, tear, and peeling off.

Semi-solid and solid stains also provide adequate protection against ultraviolet rays than clear and semi-transparent stains.

Staining a New Deck

Brand new Australian spotted gum deck being stained.

A new wooden deck needs staining. As a general rule of thumb, a new wooden deck should be let dry for at least 30 days before applying a stain. Even though stain can be applied immediately after installing a deck, more work is needed, hence the need to let the wood completely dry before staining it.

In addition, there are general guidelines based on the type of lumber used to construct the deck that I use to determine how often I need to stain my new deck. A deck built using pressure-treated lumber should dry off for about six months before staining it. I use water to determine if a pressure-lumbar deck is dry.

A dry pressure-lumber deck will soak water, while a wet one will bead up when water is poured on it.

A new deck made of kiln-dried timber should be allowed to dry for one to two months before applying stain. Most lumbers acquired at hardwoods stores are kiln-dried. Kiln-dried lumbers dry faster because they undergo drying in an oven (kiln) to reduce their moisture content.

Although green lumber, or freshly cut wood, is not ideal for constructing decks, some people still use it because of its ready availability. Green lumber should be given at least 12 months or more per inch of thickness to dry before applying stain. The green lumber should be cleaned before staining using pressure or wood cleaner. 

Staining an Old Deck

Wooden deck renovation treatment.

An old deck should receive staining every two to three years. Moreover, the condition of an old deck will determine how often it needs staining. Decks should be stained as soon as they exhibit wearing, fading, or peeling signs.

Decks with mold or mildew growth, as well as water-soaked decks, should also be stained immediately.

The entire surface should be painted when staining to achieve a uniform deck color. In other words, the whole deck should be stained even if the wearing-off is prevalent in certain areas only.

Deck Maintenance Practices

Detailed scrubbing of a deck.

Routine maintenance of a stained wooden deck is necessary for allowing all types of stain to last longer. Even a long-lasting stain can quickly fade away if not properly maintained. The following are maintenance practices I periodically conduct to protect the integrity of my stained wooden deck.

1. Sweeping

Man sweeping deck patio.

I conduct regular sweeping to keep my stained wooden deck intact. Sweeping off dirt, dust, wet leaves, and other debris keeps my stained deck clear and helps to protect the stain from wear and tear.

2. Cleaning

Man cleaning dirty deck with power washer.

Apart from sweeping debris, cleaning the deck with a power washing machine or a hosepipe is another maintenance practice I use to protect my deck. Cleaning is essential in getting rid of stubborn dirt, such as mud or mildew growth, that won’t come off easily.

3. Inspection

I conduct regular inspections to help maintain the integrity of my deck. After all, good wood deck maintenance is giving is regular inspections. I inspect my deck’s surface and substructure every six to twelve months to identify visible damage.

I call professionals to do repairs as soon as I notice any damages on my deck, regardless of their size. Regular inspection and repair help protect and maintain the stain for a long time.


A beautiful deck patio.

I stain my deck every one to five years to protect it and increase its lifespan. Nevertheless, the frequency will vary depending on the type of stain I use and the condition of the deck. Moreover, I conduct regular sweeping, cleaning, and inspection to protect the integrity of my stained wooden deck.