How to Restain a Deck | For Beginners


How to restain a deck. Beginners guide to restaining a deck. Do you need to strip, sand or just stain over? Plus tips on how to use a pressure washer properly so you don’t destroy the deck boards.

how to re stain a deck

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Our deck isn’t just for looks, we use this outdoor space as an extended living room. Family dinners, movie nights under the pergola, reading in the hammock and so much more.

So when the stain started to come off in the high traffic areas, it was more than just an eye sore. It was a problem.

How to restain a deck

This is our own personal experience. Be sure to seek professional advice.

The deck was stained with Behr premium transparent waterproofing finish in Cedar Naturaltone.

The color was gorgeous! But after a couple of years it was started to chip off in high traffic areas.

Chipped and worn areas of deck before staining.


Start by taking all the furnishing off the deck. Give it a good sweep and decide how you’ll be cleaning the deck. With a hose? or pressure washer? Do you have dark stain in less traffic areas? If so you’ll need to use a wood stain and finish stripper.

Behr wood stain and finish stripper

For this project we used BEHR Premium wood stain and finish stripper. Use according to the directions.


Yes, but you need to be carful. Use a fan tip at no more that 600psi, 4-6 inches away from the deck boards. Any closer and you risk damaging the deck boards.

Can I use a surface cleaner on my deck?

No! Although we were warned not to use a surface cleaner, using a fan tip 6 inches away was taking a lot of time and patience. So we decided to give it a try.

Scratch marks left on deck boards with surface cleaner.

The surface cleaner made quick work with the stain remover but it came with a price. The small section we did left the wood scratched and damaged, leaving the boards fuzzy. Learn from our lack of patience and don’t use a surface cleaner on your deck.

Scratch marks left on deck boards by using pressure washer surface cleaner.

Lucky for us, we noticed our mistake right away and went back to slowly using the pressure water on fan 6 inches from the deck boards.


If your deck is a little older you may want to sand down the high traffic areas or areas that might cause splinters.

Splinter in wood

Our high traffic area had a lot of scratches from the dogs nails, along with a couple of places kids could get slivers in their feet. We decided to take the time and sand our entire deck with two handheld random orbital sanders using 80 grit sandpaper.

However, if you properly remove any remaining old stain using a wood stripper, and clean it following the hose or pressure water guidelines, you most likely will not have to sand the deck before applying the new stain.

How long does it take to sand a 25×14 foot deck with two handheld random orbital sanders?

Using a stain remover before sanding made for quick work once we began. With two people using sanders, it took approximately 4 hours to sand a 25×14 foot deck. Be sure the deck is completely dry before you sand.

Sanded deck before applying stain

Sanding our entire deck was a lot of work, but I’m so glad we did it! It looks completely brand new and helped the small area where we had damaged the wood using the surface cleaner.

Do not rinse off the deck once fully sanded. Instead, take a broom or leaf blower to brush off any remaining dust.

Materials to restain a deck

After- restaining a deck

After prepping your deck, allow to dry completely for 24-48 hours. Make sure no rain is in the forecast for at least two days after applying the stain.


Water based stain- Allows for easy clean up. Fairly fast drying. May chip in high traffic areas over time.

Oil based stain- More durable than water based. Penetrates the wood deeper. May dry slower. Designed to fade over time.


Transparent- Allows for the natural pattern of the wood to show through with hints of subtle color.

Semi-Transparent- Allows for wood grain and texture to show though with added subtle color to enhance the woods pattern.

When we stained our newly built deck we used water based BEHR Premium Transparent Waterproofing finish in Cedar Naturaltone. It was easy to apply and clean up, but after 2.5 years the heavy traffic areas were beginning to chip off.

This time when restaining our deck we used BEHR Semi-Transparent Waterproofing Stain and Sealer Penetrating Oil in Cedar Naturaltone #4633.

Behr Semi-Transparent Waterproofing Stain and Sealer in Cedar Naturaltone.


Start by thinking about where you’ll be exiting the deck. If you also plan on staining the railings, start with the railing and work your way down.

Using a paint pad applicator, stain one or two deck boards at a time going the entire length of the board. Use a paint brush or foam brush to get into any cracks or grooves.

Using a paint pad applicator to apply deck stain and sealer.


To avoid lap marks it’s important to paint the entire length of the board and not repeat over any areas that might already be dry.

Allow deck to fully dry before walking or placing furniture on it.

Oil based stain applied to pressure treated deck
Deck after restaining

Restaining our deck was a fair bit of work and took a few extra days to account for weather. Now that it’s done, it was completely worth the little bit of hassle and rain delays we faced.

Since we used an oil based stain and sealer, the idea is that we’ll be able to stain directly over it instead of having to strip and or sand again. With our harsh southern sun I’m sure this oil based stain and sealer will hold up much nicer.

Deck boards before restaining
How to restain a deck. After

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