Can You Stain Over Stain on a Deck?

As time goes by, your perfectly stained wooden deck will begin to show signs of wear and tear. Whether it’s a high traffic area or exposed to the elements, when the stain starts to look shabby, then it’s time to give it a much-needed facelift. If you’re in this predicament, then I’m sure you’re wondering whether you can stain over stain on a deck or not?

Yes, it is possible to stain over the existing stain on a deck. It is recommended to do this at least once every 5-15 years, depending on how worn your deck is. However, there are some important steps you must take to ensure the job is done correctly.

In this article, we’ll answer the most commonly asked questions about restaining your deck, and provide you with an easy to follow 7-step guide on how to get the job done correctly.

Can You Stain Over Stain on a Deck

Can you stain over stain on a deck?

For most of us, a wooden deck is a considerable investment and can often be one of the cornerstone pieces of our homes. There is nothing better than long spring and summer nights spent in the backyard sitting on deck furniture. However, after a few years, you’ll need to restain it if you want to keep it looking top-notch.

First off, let’s answer some commonly asked questions people have before restaining their deck.

Do I Need to Remove the Old Stain Before Restaining a Deck?

This all depends on the current stain that you have on your deck. If the stain that you are replacing is darker than the new stain, then yes, you will need to remove the old stain.

If you are going to restain it the same or a darker color, then you don’t need to worry too much as the previous stain won’t be visible once the job is done.

Do I Have to Sand My Deck Before Restaining?

It is almost always better to sand your deck before restaining it. This process helps to remove any flaky pieces of old stain that need removing. If you stain over an area that is already peeling, then it won’t be long before your new stain follows suit. Take the extra time to give it a quick sanding, and you will save yourself time in the long run.

What Happens If You Stain Over Stain?

Staining over stain is pretty straightforward and works beautifully if you follow the steps in this article. However, it’s essential that you consider the shade of stain that you are applying when compared to the old stain.

Never try to restain with a lighter shade than the existing stain.

Will Solid Stain Cover Old Stain?

A solid stain finish will completely cover the wood and hide any of the grain you would normally be able to see. If you presently have a solid stain, then you need to choose another solid finish for the best results. If you use a semi-transparent finish, you may find that it doesn’t bind well to the solid finish, which will cause problems later.

How to Know When a Deck Needs to Be Restained

If you’re unsure or undecided about whether it’s time to restain your deck, here are a few signs that it’s time to protect the deck.

  • If the stain on your deck is already starting to peel
  • If the stain looks uneven and patchy in certain areas
  • If water sprinkled on the surface is quickly absorbed instead of beading.
  • If there is any rotting wood, this needs to be replaced and restained
  • If your deck is consistently exposed to the elements. Sunlight, snow, ice, and rain will all reduce the life of your stained deck.

One of the main reasons people restain their deck is that they don’t like the present color. It’s common for people to restyle and refurbish their homes occasionally, and the decking is no different.

If you are looking for a cost-effective and straightforward way to switch things up at home, then restaining your deck is the way to go.

Staining a Previously Stained Deck: Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Prepare the Area

First things first, remove all furniture from the area and ensure it is free of clutter. This allows you to assess the decking for any peeling or rotting wood that needs to be replaced and gives you space to work.

At this stage, you should protect any items in the surrounding area that you don’t want to get covered in the stain. This can be a messy job, so cover up the surrounding work area with newspapers or drop sheets if you have them.

Step 2: Clean Your Deck

staining deck over old stainWith everything off the deck, give it a thorough clean to remove any dirt, oils, and grime. You don’t want to be applying stain on top of that.

A pressure washer is the fastest way to blast away all the dust, dirt, oils, and grime from a deck. Work from one corner to another, and make sure that you wash the whole area before beginning the next step.

If you don’t have access to a pressure washer, you can buy a chemical deck cleaner that will remove the dirt from the surface. Personally, I much prefer the pressure washing method.

NOTE: After cleaning your deck, make sure you wait 48-72 hours before continuing onto the next step.

Step 3: Removing Old Stain (if necessary)

If you plan to switch from a darker stain to a lighter one, you will need to remove the old stain fully to achieve the best results. You can do this by sanding the old stain down thoroughly, or you can buy a stain remover that may do the job.

Step 4: Sanding

For the best possible finish, lightly sand the whole area to be stained. This step is optional but will provide a better finish than if you skip this section.

Use fine-grit sandpaper and lightly sand the wood of your decking. You’re not removing the old stain, so don’t be too forceful. Sanding will give a smooth even finish on the decking, and it will give your new stain the best chance to bond properly.

NOTE: If you find areas that are peeling or are looking flaky, you’ve found an area you must sand. Make sure you sand these sections before moving on.

Step 5: Get Staining

Now for the fun part. Grab yourself a high-quality roller or paintbrush and get staining. It is better to apply a thin coat and then reapply after the drying process for the best results. This is especially important if you want to have the grain visible.

Once you have applied your first coat, see if it is looking even or not. If there are any pooling of stain on the decking, you need to use some staining pads to remove the excess. If these pools are left, they will finish darker than the rest of your decking.

Step 6: Apply the Finishing Touches

Let the stain dry for 24-48 hours, and then check the decking for any required touch-ups. Make sure all of the seams and edges are well stained.

Don’t be afraid to apply an extra coat if it looks like it is needed. Some stains can appear very “thin” when they dry and may look unfinished. If that’s the case, then just repeat step 5 until you achieve the desired results.

NOTE: You can apply a topcoat of oil or water-based sealer to give your decking a glossy look and to help keep it looking fresher for longer.

Step 7: Admire Your Hard Work

Well done! You’ve got yourself a beautifully stained deck!


It’s possible to stain over stain on a deck if you do it the right way. Follow the steps in this guide, and you’ll have yourself a superbly stained decking in no time.


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