Why Should You Stain Your Deck Before Winter?

calander Nov 12 , 2023 user-iconAnderson Painting

When was the last time you stained your outdoor deck? If it has been two or three years since you last stained it, your deck is due for a new coating. And don’t worry—you can still stain your deck in the fall.

This post will discuss the importance of deck staining and the benefits of doing it before winter.

An Overview of Deck Staining and Its Importance

Your deck is constantly exposed to harsh outdoor elements, including strong winds, rain, snow, and sunlight. These elements damage the wood over time.

Staining is one of your options to protect decks from outdoor elements. Staining is the process of coating the deck surface with varnish-like products. The stain penetrates the timber’s pores and creates a plastic-like filmy layer over its surface.

Deck staining creates a barrier that repels water, preventing moisture from seeping into the wood and causing rot, warping, or splintering. Stains also contain UV inhibitors, safeguarding the wood from sun damage, such as fading and cracking. Additionally, they can deter pests and fungi that may otherwise infiltrate the wood. In terms of appearance, staining can highlight the natural wood grain.

Is It Better to Stain a Deck Before or After Winter?

Like painting, deck staining should be done at the right time. It shouldn’t be too cold or hot. The stain will quickly dry if the temperature is too high, causing uneven penetration and unsightly marks. On the other hand, low temperatures lengthen the drying time and cause other issues. So, if you're asking, "Can you stain a deck in the winter?” the answer is usually no (not if you live in an area that experiences cold winters, that is).

So, when is the ideal time? You can do it in the fall or spring under the right conditions. Given the harsher weather conditions in winter, it’s better to stain decks before the cold season starts. Stain will shield your deck from snow and ice and minimize damage like rotting and warping.

Benefits of Pre-Winter Deck Staining

Still cannot decide whether you should stain a deck before winter? Consider these benefits:

Protection From Winter Weather Conditions

Decks have two enemies: the sun’s UV rays and water or moisture. While winters in Raleigh, NC, are usually mild, temperatures still drop, and snow occasionally falls. And snow will stay on your deck throughout the season.

Additionally, moisture is likely to seep into the wood’s pores. Moisture infiltration will cause warping and create an ideal environment for mold growth. If the water or moisture does not evaporate fast, it can also cause the wood to rot, altering the deck’s integrity and appearance.

With staining, you don’t need to worry about winter weather conditions ruining your deck. As long as you apply the stain properly, it can keep your deck in decent shape for years.

Improved Insulation

The temperature in Raleigh, NC, can drop below 30 Fahrenheit, which isn’t good for bare wood. Being exposed to extreme cold can cause bare wood to shrink and become brittle. As a result, they can break easily.

Staining a deck is like giving it a thick layer of winter clothes. The stain that penetrates the wood’s pores can act as an insulator. It can diminish any negative effect of cold air against the deck. Your deck is less likely to suffer cold-related damage and can stay warm throughout the winter.

Less Slippery Surfaces

Decking becomes slippery in winter because of snow and algae that thrive in lower temperatures. If you often struggle to keep your balance when walking on your deck in winter, then it’s time to consider staining.

Some deck stain products are non-slip. The stain is formulated to protect the deck while still keeping the wood grain bare. It means that the wood’s surface stays slightly rough, like lumber, although it is protected.

Types of Deck Stain and Which Is Best for Your Home

There are many varieties of deck stains. They differ in opacity, composition, and features. In terms of opacity, stains can be solid, semi-solid, semi-transparent, and transparent. The composition can be oil-based or water-based. Generally, water-based is better because it is easier to clean and more environmentally friendly than its oil-based counterpart.

Some deck stains have special features, like resistance to chemicals, water, impact, and UV rays, each type offering some degree of protection for common issues in decks.

The best deck stain will depend on your specific requirements. For example, clear or transparent stains are great options for new decks because you’ll still see the beautiful wood grain after its application. For decks with discoloration, semi-transparent can be a better fit.

How to Prepare Your Deck for Staining

Like painting, surface preparation is crucial in deck staining. If you’re planning to stain the deck yourself or want to ensure the people you hire don’t cut corners, here are some tips on deck preparation for staining:

  • Inspect the deck for damages. Consider replacing boards with cracks around screws, those showing splits, or those with any damage. Check for discoloration or marks if your deck has been bare for a long time. The presence of stains, marks, and the like may indicate it’s better to paint than stain.

  • Before staining, make sure to sweep and clear the deck. Remove any debris or loose leaves on your deck. Cover or move plants and furniture indoors.

  • Clean the deck. If there is an accumulation of dirt and grime, consider power washing. A power washer can get your deck thoroughly clean in no time.

  • Lightly sand the dry deck to ensure the stain will seep into the wood. You can use an electric sander with fine sandpaper.

Tips on Applying the Stain Properly

Are you ready to stain your deck? Here are a few tips to help make your project a success:

Determine the Right Time to Stain

As previously mentioned, timing is vital in staining. Since decks are outdoors, you should consider the weather and temperature before staining. Can you stain a deck in the fall? Absolutely.

However, check the forecast and choose a day when the temperature stays above 50 and below 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The humidity level should be low, and the wind should be calm. Also, it shouldn’t be rainy.

Don’t Skip Surface Preparation

Staining a dirty deck will only yield poor results. The stain will be uneven, with a decreased likelihood of lasting long. So while it may be tempting to skip surface preparation, ensure you take time to do the prep work. You don’t want to spend time and money staining your deck only to find the work is blotchy.

Use the Right Tools

There are many tools you can use for staining: synthetic brushes, natural bristles, and even a roller. Synthetic options are ideal if you’re using a water-based stain, while natural bristles pose challenges because they lose rigidity fast.

Apply Thin Coats When Using Semi-Transparent Stains

Coats should be thin when you’re using semi-transparent stains or clear sealers. Applying thick coats can only create puddles that don’t seep into the wood and flake off when dry. Apply the stain twice, no matter what type you use, to get a more uniform finish and prevent missing spots.

Deck Stain Maintenance

While deck stains are capable of protecting the deck from sun and moisture, they still need proper care to stay effective longer. It means the job isn’t done after the stain application; you also need to maintain it.

Don’t worry because deck stain maintenance isn’t much work. The key is to keep it clean. Ensure you sweep the deck regularly and wash it lightly using a mild deck detergent. Gently scrub the deck to remove grime and dirt build-up. You can also use a pressure washer; just be careful not to use too much pressure. Also, trim branches of trees and vines close to the deck.

Protect Your Deck With Quality Stains

Whether you need to stain or paint your deck, Anderson Painting is here to help. We have an experienced and skilled team who can guarantee a quality finish. The team will ensure your deck stays in its best condition year-round, especially in winter.

Contact our team today to learn more about us and all we can do for you.


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