How to Apply Oil Deck Stain

Wooden decks are common on many homes and cabins.

Because the wood on decks is subjected directly to the elements, periodic maintenance is needed to ensure the wood lasts. Untreated wood will absorb water, which can lead to warping, discoloration and rotting, so applying a product such as oil-based stain is important to seal the wood and prevent water from soaking in. Deck stain will create a protective film on the surface of a deck, which helps it withstand the elements while giving a deck a more finished looking color. .

Dislodge any debris from between the deck's boards using a chisel or other flat tool.

Sand to smooth any rough spots on the deck using sandpaper.

Sweep off the deck using the broom. Sweep along the grain.

Clean the deck with a commercial deck cleaner, then rinse the deck with a hose. Follow the instructions of the cleaner that you use. Typically you will have to apply cleaner with a paint roller, allow a few minutes for the cleaner to set in and then wash it away.

Wait for the deck to dry.

Make a plan of where you will start and finish staining so that you will not have to cross over previously stained areas.

Apply an even layer of deck stain using a paintbrush, working your way down the deck staining three or four boards at a time. You can use a paint roller and a paint tray to apply deck stain faster over large areas, although a paint brush will be more precise.

Allow the deck to dry as long as the instructions on the stain require.

Things You Will Need

  • Hose
  • Broom
  • Chisel
  • Deck cleaner
  • Sandpaper
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint roller
  • Paint tray
  • Oil deck stain
  • Rags


  • Drying time of deck stains can vary based on the temperature, humidity, sunlight and other factors. Read the instructions printed on the cans of stain you use for more information about application and drying. Oil deck stains tend to last longer than water based stains. Aim to finish a stain job all in one work period so that the deck dries evenly. Use rags to clean up stain spills.

About the Author

Gregory Hamel has been a writer since September 2008 and has also authored three novels. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from St. Olaf College. Hamel maintains a blog focused on massive open online courses and computer programming.