How To Strip and Stain Your Deck

If you have a tired-looking deck that could use brightening up, a hearty scrub and a can of decking stain will work wonders. This project can be done in a weekend – and aside from basic maintenance, you won’t need to do another deep clean for years.

How To Strip and Stain Your Deck

My deck is made from pressure-treated pine, and it hadn’t seen a coat of oil for a while when we moved in. Regularly oiling a wooden deck will prevent the wood from drying out, which in turn prevents cracks and splintering. Look after your deck and it’ll look after you.

While I was at it, I also planned to stain the decking a darker color. I wasn’t sure what these boards had been treated with, and older CCA-treated pine tends to turn greenish over time. I was ambivalent about its existing color, but sickly greenish pine would look a hundred times worse.

How To Strip and Stain Your Deck - Before

Materials List:

  • Deck cleaner solution
  • Decking stain
  • Long-handled deck scrub brush
  • Long-handled decking oil applicator
  • 5″ (125mm) decking brush
  • Bucket
  • Paint tray
  • Pressure washer

Before you begin, clear all objects off your deck and give it a thorough sweep.

How To Strip and Stain Your Deck - Clean

Cleaning and stripping the deck

Mix the deck cleaning solution with water according to the directions on the label; I mixed my 1-liter jug  at 1 part solution to 4 parts water. Pre-wet the deck with a hose and then scrub in the solution with your stiff scrub brush, bit by bit. You’ll see the dirt coming loose from the timber.

After the deck has been well-scrubbed, leave the solution on the deck for 20 minutes (give or take, depending on label directions) and remove the remaining grime with a pressure washer. The real color of the deck will become apparent.

How To Strip and Stain Your Deck - After washing

After washing, leave the deck to dry overnight. When I saw the color of the deck the next morning, I was blown away. It looked brand new! Who knew that this dingy gray timber was actually blond?

How To Strip and Stain Your Deck - Succulents

Staining the deck

I used two coats of stain in merbau, a rich chocolatey color with a red undertone. This was a messy job that required two people working at once, so I don’t have any in-progress photos, just what the final coat looked like.

Here are my tips:

  • If you have a grooved surface like these boards, using brushes instead of padded applicators will save you a lot of frustration.
  • Stir the stain very thoroughly, and keep doing so during the day or you risk having patchy coverage. (That said: if you do get patches, the second coat will even them out.)
  • Be warned, if you’re staining raw pressure-treated pine: it’s very thirsty! It took six liters of stain (about 1.5 gallons) to apply a single first coat to this 18 sqm (200 sqft) deck, and half of that again for the second coat.
How To Strip and Stain Your Deck - Process

For comparison, here’s how the color of the boards looked with each step: unwashed, stripped, stained.

How To Strip and Stain Your Deck - Maintenance


The full stripping and restaining was carried out last summer, and this year we simply treated the deck with a topcoat of tinted decking oil rather than the more heavily pigmented stain. So far so good.

This deck is covered in tinted polycarbonate roofing that shields it from rain and filters out the harshest UV rays, which protects the deck a lot. If you have a deck in full sun, it will probably need a coat of oil every year, perhaps even another coat of stain if you’ve stained it a different color.

How To Strip and Stain Your Deck Easy

My deck is my favorite part of my house, if I’m honest. (It doesn’t hurt that I’m surrounded by succulents!) With a deck in great condition, it’s time to focus on summer barbecues and lazy nights hanging out with friends.