Feb 17 2011

How To Stain Your Deck Faster and With The Proper Tools!

One of the questions that I get asked as a Deck Restoration Expert is how long should it take to stain a 500 square foot deck? My typically answer is 2-3 hours which usually gets a blank stare or a laugh. The fact is that I can actually do it in half the time. The key is having the proper tools and a few tips to make the process more efficient.

These suggestions will make your deck restoration project faster, with less mess, and with a better overall appearance.

Equipment Needed:

  • Deck Stain Pad – These work better then brushes as they are more absorbent and they allow you to “push” the stain into the wood.
  • Deck Floor Mop – Same as stain pad but much bigger. This tool alone can save you a substantial amount of time while applying the stain perfectly even.
  • Pump Up Sprayer – Usually plastic. This applies the deck stain faster.
  • Large Plastic Tarp – Catches drips and over-spray on bushes and grass.
  • 9×12 Canvas Trap – Contains over spray when using the sprayer on the railings.

Please follow these steps to ensure success.

  1. Cover all shrubs, bushes, grass, concrete patios, etc around the outside edge of the deck with the plastic tarp.
  2. Using Exterior Stain Pad, apply the stain on the railings nearest the house. Typically I do about 4″ out from the house since we do not want any over spray onto the home.
  3. Hang the canvas tarp so that it lays 12′ on the top of the railing and hangs 4.5′ on both sides of the railing.
  4. Lifting the canvas tarp (side only that you are facing) saturate all the railings with the Pump Up Sprayer within the 12′ length of canvas tarp. The other side of the canvas tarp should catch all of the over spray!
  5. Walk around deck and repeat on opposite side of railings.
  6. Slide canvas tarp down the railing and repeat. Make sure that plastic tarp catches any drips from canvas tarp.
  7. Do about 15-30 feet of railings then remove canvas tarp. Look over all railings and touch up missed spots and or drips with the stain pad. In addition you may have puddled some stain on the flooring below railings. Using the stain pad, spread any excess stain onto flooring so that it is even.
  8. Repeat steps 3-7 to complete all railings. This should complete about 70% of the time it takes to stain a deck!
  9. Flooring is the easiest step! Using stain pad, “edge” out all decking that butts up to house. About 4-8 inches is enough.
  10. Take the 18″  Speed Mop and spread the stain evenly to the entire floor. You will need a paint tray that is 20″ wide or more. This is very easy and a 500 square foot floor should take 20 minutes or less!
  11. Depending on brand of stain being used, repeat step 10.
  12. Finish stairs if needed and look over outside edge of deck for missed spots and drips.


  • Canvas tarp can catch fire when using an oil based stain on a hot day! Do not put tarp in house or garage! Saturating with water when done can help prevent this. Typically only happens when tarp is bundled up into a ball.
  • These steps typically work with a transparent or semi-transparent decking stain. They will not work with a solid (opaque) stain.
  • Make sure to read all manufacturer directions first.


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