Thought Leader Series: How to Effectively Restain Your Deck – and Save Money!


Travis Pizel is a personal finance blogger who writes at Enemy of Debt, where he shares his family’s financial experiences, struggles and successes. As a father and husband, he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances and family.

A beautiful deck can add a great outdoor space as well as value to a home. Homeowners spend countless hours staining their decks to make them look great and last as long as possible. However, over time, that stain will likely begin to peel. Hiring someone to refinish a deck can cost hundreds of dollars, depending upon the size of the deck. Homeowners can save some serious cash if they’re willing to put in the effort to educate themselves on how to do it themselves.

Stripping and Cleaning

Deck owners can go several years without completely refinishing a deck. Yearly maintenance may include re-staining only areas that show obvious signs of wear and tear. The areas that get more sunlight and heavy foot traffic will tend to show wear faster. After several years and coats of stain, eventually the deck will need to be completely stripped of the old stain and dirt, allowing a new stain to better soak into the wood.

There are two ways homeowners can ready their decks for a fresh coat of stain:

  • Power Washing: The top layer of the wood is essentially removed using a high-powered power washer. With the stain and discolored layer of wood removed, the deck will look almost new again. Power washing a deck is tedious and time consuming. Deck owners also have to be careful not to use too powerful of a nozzle, or the process may leave gouges in the wood.
  • Stripping Products: Products are available to strip the stain, dirt, and mildew off a deck. The result may not be quite as dramatic or complete as power washing the deck, however.



The deck may have some frayed edges that need to be sanded before applying new stain, especially if a power washer was used. Lightly sand the deck with 100-grit sandpaper. This will help the new stain soak in more efficiently, which will in turn help your stain last longer.

Pick the Right Stain

There are several types of stain available, providing different types of looks for your deck:

  • Solid Deck Stain: This stain will provide complete coverage, meaning that it will completely hide the grain of the wood. While it does provide excellent UV protection, it is prone to peeling and is difficult to remove.
  • Semi-Transparent Stain: Provides good UV protection, provides good color while allowing the grain of the wood to show though. Semi-transparent stains can typically be removed with a deck stain stripper and be easily reapplied.
  • Transparent Stain: Provides very little color, and therefore looks the most natural. It offers very little UV protection and usually needs to be reapplied annually.

Refinishing a deck is a big project requiring a lot of time and effort. By educating yourself with regards to what needs to be done and what product will work best for you, you’ll be better prepared for the task at hand, resulting in a great-looking deck that is the envy of the neighborhood.

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