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Tips for Staining Over Stain on Your Decking

calander Jun 7 , 2021 user-icon Nash Painting

Your outdoor deck is a valuable part of your home, offering ample space for cookouts, lazy weekends, and summer fun. If you want to continue reaping the benefits afforded by your deck, you must take good care of it. Applying a fresh coat of deck stain every few years is a great way to protect your deck’s surfaces from environmental damage, maximize its longevity, and enhance your home’s overall appearance. That said, applying a fresh coat of stain to your deck isn’t always such a straightforward process.

In some cases, your deck’s previous coat of stain will begin to fade and peel from the surface, in which case it’s best to remove it before applying a new coat. Other times, however, the old stain will stay put even if it’s been there for several years. In this scenario, you might wonder whether it’s best to forcibly remove the previous coat anyway or leave it be before introducing new stain. The right solution varies depending on several factors, but staining over a previous coat of stain is perfectly viable under the right conditions. If you’re planning to apply a fresh coat of deck stain on top of an older one, here are some tips to make the process go smoothly.

Take Stock of Your Deck’s Condition

No matter the specifics of your staining project, you must always take the time to inspect your deck for signs of damage before anything else. Simply slapping on a new coat of stain won’t magically fix structural issues or eradicate rot. So check for common deck problems such as popped nail heads, loose/broken/warped boards, splintered/rotting wood, etc., and invest in all necessary repairs. As you examine your deck for these structural issues, note the appearance of its current coat of stain, too. You may already be committed to applying new stain regardless, but the condition of your previous stain will determine how you tackle the rest of this project. As mentioned earlier, if large portions of your deck’s stain have peeled away, it’s often best to remove as much of what remains as possible via stripping and sanding. Otherwise, it’s often more practical to leave the previous coat as is and simply stain over it.

Properly Prepare Your Deck’s Surfaces

Whether or not you plan on removing the old deck stain, your next step is to prep your deck’s surfaces for a fresh coat. Assuming your deck is already cleared from furniture and other objects, wash your deck to clear away dirt, dust, debris, and grime that’s accumulated. For the most part, a pressure washer is the optimal tool for cleaning your deck, though you can also tackle this task manually with a stiff brush and detergent/cleaning solution. Bear in mind that both cleaning methods can wind up removing previous coats of stain, so if you wish to keep your old stain in place, be cautious in your approach. It’s also recommended that you sand your deck’s surfaces and rinse the deck again before applying a new coat of stain. Doing so can help you remove loose stain if you wish but also make your deck’s surface more receptive to a new coat of stain regardless of its current condition (i.e., bare/stripped or already stained).

Select the Right Stain for Your Purposes

The deck stain you choose is always a matter of importance, as it will determine your deck’s appearance, durability, and maintenance needs. This decision is even more relevant when it comes to staining over a previously stained deck. Simply put, applying a more transparent stain over a solid deck stain won’t yield the visual results you’re aiming for; conversely, coating a lighter-stained deck with a darker, more solid stain will easily cover up what was once there. In other words, the color and transparency of the previous coat of stain will inform the color and transparency of the new stain you select. If the previous coat is lighter, you can apply a similar or slightly darker stain without much hassle; if you’re trying to lighten up a darker deck, you can try applying a lighter solid stain.

The stain you choose will have practical implications as well. For instance, a transparent or semi-transparent stain will bind to bare wood just fine but won’t adhere as strongly to a previous layer of solid stain. So, if you’re going to cover a solid-stained deck with a new coating, you’ll want to go with another solid stain rather than a more transparent one -- otherwise, the new coating won’t hold up as long as you’d like.

Test a Small Amount of Stain Before Applying It All

Once you’ve got your stain sorted out, restrain yourself from coating your entire deck right away. Instead, do yourself a favor and perform a test run by applying a small amount of exterior deck stain on a less visible spot to see how well it sticks to the previously stained surface. If the new stain has trouble adhering, you’ll either need to go with a different product or remove the previous coatings before applying it in full. This revelation isn’t pleasant, but it’s better to realize it early on and tackle the project correctly than apply all of your stain only to find out that it didn’t go as planned. Of course, if the test goes well, you’re now cleared to stain over your stained deck!

Apply Your Stain Like a Pro

Now, all that’s left is to apply the new finish properly. There’s more than one way to approach deck staining, but here are some basic tips:

  • Apply the stain one section at a time with a paint pad, roller, or brush

  • Whichever applicator you use, go in long and smooth strokes for an even finish

  • Maintain a wet edge and work outwards rather than inwards

  • Don’t apply too much stain to a given area or else you’ll end up with an uneven finish

  • Always let one coat fully dry before applying another, if applicable

  • Consider finishing the job with a transparent sealer for an additional layer of protection that will prolong the appearance and integrity of your fresh stain job

When in Doubt, Hire Deck Staining Services

If you’re not confident in your ability to stain over a previously stained deck (or stain your deck in general), that’s what the professionals are for. At Nash Painting, our teams can handle every aspect of a deck staining project, including inspections, repairs, surface prep, cleaning, and of course, new stain applications. No matter the specifics of your decking project, we’ll get the job done efficiently and with the highest standards to ensure long-lasting results. See why we’ve become the go-to painting and staining expert across Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, TN. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!