When it comes to backyard maintenance, a deck stands as one of the most valuable and versatile structures. But like any outdoor feature, it requires routine upkeep to preserve its beauty and durability.

A crucial component of this upkeep is staining, a task that begs the question: How often should you stain your deck? While it’s generally recommended to do so every two to three years, multiple factors can affect this frequency, such as your deck’s condition, material type, and your local climate.

To facilitate your understanding, this comprehensive guide will explain these factors and delve into deck maintenance tips, types of stains, and a DIY staining procedure. Although you can perform the task yourself, keep in mind that professionals offer unparalleled expertise that can result in superior deck protection.

Deck Condition and Material

The condition and material of your deck are primary determinants of how often you should stain it. Wood decks, in particular, demand regular staining to prevent weathering and decay. Old, untreated wood can become discolored and weak, while newer wood, despite being healthier, may still need protection from the elements. Therefore, regardless of the age, wood decks should be checked annually for signs of damage like lax boards, rotting wood, or protruding nails.

Also, different types of wood absorb stain differently. For instance, softwoods like pine absorb stain quickly and may need more frequent staining, while hardwoods like ipe are dense and may not need staining as often.


Climate plays an integral role in the staining frequency of your deck. If you live in an area with a lot of moisture and wet winters, the deck may need more frequent staining to resist water damage. Conversely, if you’re in a dry, sunny climate, UV protection becomes a priority, but staining frequency might be less. Nonetheless, regular inspections, preferably in early spring before the warm weather seasons, can help identify any weather-related issues early on.

Stains: Water-Based vs. Oil-Based

Choosing the right stain is equally important as it directly impacts the look and longevity of your deck. Stains come in two main types: water-based and oil-based, each with its distinct advantages.

Water-based stains excel in color retention and are easier to clean, requiring only soap and water. They dry quickly and are non-flammable, making them a safe and practical option for most homeowners.

Oil-based stains, on the other hand, offer superior protection and durability, making them ideal for harsh climates. They take longer to dry, giving you more time for detailed and even application. However, they are more challenging to clean and can be more complex to apply, especially for inexperienced homeowners.

DIY Deck Staining

Staining your deck yourself can be a rewarding project. If you’re planning on tackling it, here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • Plastic tarpaulin
  • A large push broom
  • Deck cleaner
  • Protective glasses
  • Stain
  • Paint rollers and brushes
  • A sander
  • A safety mask if you’re working with oil-based stain

While staining the deck yourself can save some money, remember that professionals have the skills and experience to do an excellent job. Weigh the costs and benefits before deciding which route to take.


Maintaining your deck is crucial for its longevity and aesthetic appeal. Regular staining, typically every two to three years, is a key component of this maintenance. The frequency can vary based on factors such as the deck’s material, age, the climate it’s exposed to, and the quality of the stain used. While the process of staining can be a DIY project, it’s essential to prepare your deck properly and choose the right products. Alternatively, you can hire a professional to ensure a top-quality finish. Remember, a well-kept deck not only enhances your home’s appearance but can also provide years of outdoor enjoyment.