How to Stain a Hot Tub

Over time the skirting around your hot tub can lose its color and luster. Because the hot tub skirting is constantly exposed to moisture and sunlight, as well as chlorine, it is particularly susceptible to fading and eventual deterioration. Maintaining a good finish on the skirting is essential to its longevity and appearance. The process of staining hot tub skirting involves first washing the wood with wood cleaner, following up with wood brightener, and then applying a coat of penetrating oil-based wood stain.

Preparing the Skirting for Stain

A hot tub can be a great way to relax after a hard day's work.
  1. Mix a solution of wood cleaner in a five-gallon plastic bucket. Wood cleaner typically comes in a concentrated form. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and mix a solution suitable for cleaning wood prior to staining.
  2. Spray the hot tub skirting with water and apply the wood cleaning solution to the wet wood. Apply the cleaner with a nylon-bristle scrub brush and let it sit on the skirting for 15 to 30 minutes.
  3. Scrub the skirting vigorously with the brush. Rinse thoroughly with water.
  4. While the skirting is still wet, apply a solution of oxalic-acid based wood brightener. Apply with your brush. Let the brightener sit on the wood for 45 minutes. Don't scrub the wood again; just let the brightener react chemically with the darkening extractive elements common to redwood and cedar skirting.
  5. Rinse the skirting thoroughly with water and let it dry for at least 24 hours before applying stain.

Applying Stain to the Skirting

  1. Mask off the fiberglass portion of the hot tub with masking tape and newspaper. Run the tape along the edge of the wooden skirting, where it meets the fiberglass.
  2. Apply a single coat of penetrating oil-based stain. Use a paint brush or roller to apply the stain. Start in the least visible portion of the tub skirting and stain down the length of each individual board. Maintain a wet edge and feed the wood as much stain as it will absorb, but be careful not to over apply. Work your way around the tub skirting.
  3. Let the stain soak in for 15 minutes. Brush the skirting with a dry paint brush to remove excess stain.
  4. Let the stain dry for at least 24 hours before exposing it to moisture.

Things You Will Need

  • Wood cleaner
  • Five-gallon plastic bucket
  • Nylon-bristle scrub brush
  • Oxalic-acid based wood brightener
  • Masking tape
  • Newspaper
  • Paint brush or roller
  • Oil-based penetrating wood stain


  • Brightening the wood is an optional step. Cedar, redwood, and exotic hardwoods can all contain high levels of tannic acid. This natural preservative darkens the wood. The oxalic acid in wood brightener neutralizes these acids and restores the natural color and luster of the wood. If the skirting does not darken after cleaning, you do not need to use the wood brightener.
  • Exotic hardwoods have become popular for hot tub skirting. These woods are extremely dense and will not absorb as much stain as softer redwood and cedar. Expect the spread rates to extend much further than what is listed on the stain can. Also, these hardwoods require more frequent maintenance and refinishing to keep their color and luster. Look into specific tropical hardwood stains specifically designed for these types of wood.
  • The protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays in stain comes from the pigments. Generally the darker the stain, the longer it will last.
  • Because it is constantly exposed to moisture and UV rays, hot tub skirting needs to be restained frequently. Indoor skirting should be stained twice annually, while exterior skirting should be stained as often as four times each year.

About the Author

Robert Howard has been writing professionally since 2004 and writes a weekly column for the "Synthesis," a Chico, Calif.-based newspaper. He maintains a blog and has published articles and works of fiction in a variety of different print and online magazines. Howard holds a Bachelor of Arts in visual arts from the University of California, San Diego.

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