how to stain your deck header

How To Stain Your Deck

2-4 hours

Staining your deck will not only refresh your outdoor space; it will also allow you to highlight the rich colors & textures of your wood surface. With the help of Benjamin Moore ARBORCOAT® exterior stain, you can color, waterproof, and protect your deck from nature’s elements.

Does My Deck Need Stain?

To determine if your deck needs to be stained, sprinkle some water on the wood. If the wood absorbs it quickly, then your deck needs to be stained/sealed as soon as possible. If the water pools on the surface and doesn’t absorb, then your deck is still protected and doesn’t necessarily need to be stained. Typically the deck stain should be reapplied every 1-3 years.


benjamin moore arborcoat deck stain

Choosing Your Stain:

Wood remains the most common choice for decks. More expensive hardwoods, such as mahogany, offer gorgeous grain and texture that shine through when using a more transparent stain like Translucent or Semi-Transparent. Softer, less expensive woods, including pressure-treated southern yellow pine or cedar, benefit from Semi-Solid and Solid stains’ innate weather barrier.

Wood alternatives, known as “composite decking”, are also a popular choice. While often sold as maintenance-free, composite decks demand protection from color fading as well as from the elements–just like their wood counterparts; ARBORCOAT® Solid Deck & Siding Stain provides excellent color retention for these popular decking choices.

Before You Begin:

Check the weather: you want to schedule your staining project during a period of several days between 50-90 degrees where no rain is expected. Unless your deck is new, you will most likely need to clean the surface before staining. The wood will need a day to dry completely before the stain can be applied.

Flaking/Peeling Wood:

If you have previously stained/painted your deck and the finish is flaking or peeling, you will need to remove it before applying your new stain. Use a paint stripper or Benjamin Moore Remove to help remove the old stain or paint and uncover the healthy wood beneath.



  • Deck Wash (if needed)
  • Paint Stripper (if needed)
  • Benjamin Moore ARBORCOAT® Exterior Stain
  • Plastic Sheeting/Tarp
  • Painter's Tape
  • Sandpaper


  • Pressure Washer (optional)
  • Scrub Brushes
  • Power Sander (optional)
  • Garden Hose
  • Broom
  • Paint Brush
  • Paint Roller/Pad Applicator
  • Roller Extender (optional)

Step 1: Prepare Surface

Remove any and all furnishings from your deck. Inspect the wood and railings, repairing/replacing as needed. Sand any splintered areas with at least 80 grit sandpaper and sweep away any dust. If you have any plants surrounding your deck, make sure to cover them with plastic sheeting or a tarp prior to staining. Use painter’s tape to protect any areas next to the wood, like your siding, if needed.

Step 2: Clean Your Deck

man cleaning deck with hose before applying deck stain

Unless your deck is brand new, you will need to clean your deck boards. ARBORCOAT® stain will trap any dirt or mildew left behind. Wet the deck with the hose and wash and scrub the wood with a scrub brush and a deck cleaner. Follow the manufacturer instructions regarding any soaking time. Rinse your deck thoroughly with the hose.

Pro Tip: Using a pressure washer can make this step much quicker and easier than scrubbing by hand. You can find one at your local hardware store, like Norfolk Hardware in Boston.

Step 3: Stain Railings

testing deck stain

Once your deck is clean, dry and free of any dirt or leaves, you can begin staining. Stir stain thoroughly before application. Apply Benjamin Moore’s ARBORCOAT® stain to an inconspicuous area or a test piece of wood first to make sure that you are satisfied with its appearance.  Then, using a paintbrush, stain your railings, posts & balusters. Make sure that you are making long, even strokes.

Step 4: Stain Deck Boards

Determine which way you want to exit your deck. Then, using a paint roller/pad applicator, apply the stain in long even strokes, while moving towards your preferred exit. If you are staining alone, using a pad applicator will be quicker than using a roller and brush. If you have a friend with you, have them follow you with a paintbrush to work the stain into the wood. This is a technique known as back brushing and is used to prevent any lap marks or uneven streaks from occurring. Use a paintbrush to get in between any cracks or problem areas. Allow deck stain to dry for at least 48 hours before walking on it or adding a second coat. Typically, one coat of ARBORCOAT® is sufficient. Your deck is ready to enjoy!

Pro Tip: Keep in mind that the stain will dry faster in direct sun, which can result in the stain drying unevenly. To combat this, avoid staining in direct sunlight if you can.

Need Deck Stain?

Ready to refresh your deck with Benjamin Moore’s ARBORCOAT® deck stain? Norfolk Hardware is Boston's largest family-owned hardware and home center, family-owned since 1934. Recently remodeled, Norfolk Hardware has over 40,000 square feet of retail space with everything you need for your home improvement project, including ARBORCOAT® stain, as well as other quality exterior paint products for your home. Stop by any day of the week or contact us today to talk about your next project. Source: Benjamin Moore