How to Cure Deck Stain

Meg Butler

After a deck is stained, the stain must be allowed to cure. Curing is the time the stain fully settles into the surface of the wood, dries, and sets its final color. Wood stain essentially cures itself. What you can do to help is create the optimal conditions for the stain to cure properly. Wood stain cured under wet, sunny, or otherwise unsuitable conditions may become contaminated, discolored, or develop mold.

Step 1

Check the weather forecast. The best time to apply stain is during warm, dry weather. If possible, apply the stain when conditions are ideal for at least the next three days. Rain or extended wet periods will prolong curing time and may encourage mold growth.

Step 2

Apply the stain in thin coats. Thick coats of stain do not provide better protection. They take longer to cure, are more susceptible to mold, and may crack or stain as they dry. Multiple coats present similar problems. Do not exceed the manufacturer's instructions for the number of coats to apply.

Step 3

Wipe up any excess stain with a dry rag. Thick globs and streaks will show up as dark or discolored areas as the stain cures. They will also extend curing time.

Step 4

Follow the manufacturer's instructions for curing times. Most manufacturers recommend at least 24 hours. If the weather is overly wet or humid, or if the stain layer is thick, double the curing time.

Step 5

Provide the deck with shade, if necessary, while it cures. Under direct sunlight, deck stain cures too quickly to be properly absorbed into the wood. The excess surface stain will crack and chip over time.

Step 6

Provide the deck with physical protection from the elements. Pollen, dirt, and debris from trees or wind may become embedded in the stain while it is still sticky and wet. This debris not only looks unsightly, but can discolor the stain and cause it to develop mold. Place plastic sheeting over the deck to protect it from wind and debris if pollen counts are high. Make sure the plastic does not come into contact with the wet stain.