Decked Out

By Mark J. Donovan

March 20, 2018 4 min read

One of the first projects I tackled in our new home was to re-stain the deck. The deck was constructed using pressure-treated two-by-six pieces of lumber as the decking boards. Though not necessarily my decking material of choice, the deck boards were structurally sound. The only real issue was the old stain. Due to a rusting chimney cap, the deck had a large ugly orange patch on its surface. In addition, a solid deck stain was used and, based on the amount of chipping and flaking, it appeared this was several years ago. Fortunately, the previous owner had left a can of the old deck stain around. It was a can of water-based Cabot solid acrylic deck stain, an overall excellent product.

The weather had been ideal for a number of days prior to staining the deck. It'd been rain-free for several days, and the hot summer sun had dried out the wood. It's imperative that the decking lumber moisture level be below 15 percent prior to staining it, according to Cabot. The forecast also looked good for the next several days.

*Preparing Deck for Staining

A couple of days prior to applying the solid acrylic deck stain, I swept the area thoroughly and applied a cleaner to the deck surface using a sprayer. The cleaner removed algae and mold that had become embedded into the surface of the desk. It also helped to brighten up the lumber and remove some of the orange rust stain that had become impregnated into the decking boards.

*Best Method for Appling Deck Stain

In my experience, the best way to apply a solid acrylic deck stain is the old-fashion way, using a 4-inch natural-bristle brush. Its backbreaking work, as it takes significantly longer to apply the deck stain in this fashion; however, the deck stain holds up much longer to the weather elements. A brush helps to work the stain into the wood compared with using a roller.

When applying deck stain it's also important to start nearest the home and work your way outwards in such a way that you don't paint/stain yourself into a corner. With my particular deck there were no deck railings to stain. For those of you with deck railings, I would advise you to stain them first, particularly when using a solid deck stain. That way there are less concerns of dripping stain onto a freshly stained deck surface.

Another helpful tip when staining a deck is to mix cans of deck stain together. If your deck requires more than one can of deck stain, then you can be assured to have one common color of deck stain. You'd be surprised how many cans of stain with the exact hue formula have slight variations in color tone. It only takes a fraction of a second for a store clerk to add a bit too much pigment to the base stain, causing two theoretically identical cans of stain to have a slight difference in color.

After staining a deck, allow at least 24 hours for the stain to fully dry prior to walking on it. Again, make sure before staining a deck that the weather forecast shows no signs of rain for at least 24 hours.

*Clean Up After Staining a Deck With Water-Based Acrylic Solid Stain

With a water-based acrylic solid stain clean up is a breeze. I simply cleaned my brush out with soapy water, rinsed it with clean water, shook out the water and then hung it out to dry.

Mark J. Donovan's website is at

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