How to Stain Deck Spindles

S.F. Heron

Homeowners use deck stain to protect the wood as well as add a more pleasing finish to this outdoor family hangout. Staining a deck requires patience and planning to prevent marring the finish before it's completely dry. Many homeowners never stain their deck spindles because it's a time-consuming chore.

However, weathering also affects these railing pieces that are subjected to acid rain and hard weather conditions. Applying deck stain to the spindles adds protection to the wood to help your deck last longer. Staining deck spindles requires time and inventive techniques to prevent damaging the flat deck surface. It's best to stain deck spindles before finishing the flat deck surfaces.

  1. Prepare the area by protecting your plants and the deck surface from drips. Cover any plantings or items around and under the deck to prevent damage from cleaning and staining. Protect house siding or other accents with plastic sheeting that is taped firmly.

  2. Apply deck-cleaning solution (spray form) to the spindles of the railings. Follow the manufacturer instructions. Rinse every spindle from each side completely with the pressure washer. Pressure washing removes the impurities from the wood as well as old traces of stain or finish.

  3. Allow the spindles to dry completely after cleaning. Stain will not adhere properly to the spindles if the wood is damp. Drying may take a few days, depending on rain and humidity levels in your area. Since it's very likely you'll clean the entire deck at the same time as the spindles, measure the wood's dryness by dropping one teaspoon of water on a flat deck surface. If the wood absorbs the water quickly, the wood is dry enough to allow staining. If the water pools, wait a few days before applying stain.

  4. Place plastic sheeting or pieces of cardboard around the bottom of the spindles to collect any drips. Drips will show clearly through any finish used on your deck surface, so be vigilant while applying stain to deck spindles. Wear goggles and a mask since stain tends to be both strong smelling and an eye irritant.

  5. Apply one thin layer of deck stain to the spindles using the painting mitt. Work from the outside of the railings toward the deck surface. Wipe any drips immediately using a rag. If you prefer, use a thick-bristled brush to paint each individual spindle. Be particularly careful of drips when using a brush since deck stain has a very thin consistency. Completely finish one spindle before moving to the next to prevent streaking and brush marks.

  6. Apply a second thin layer to the spindles when the first layer is still wet. Thin layering helps prevent cracking or bubbling of the stain.