How Soon After Pressure Washing My Deck Can I Stain It?

stain a deck after pressure washing
Let’s be honest – it’s hard to maintain a decking. It requires frequent cleaning, re-sealing and staining. Homeowners often undertake these tasks and think they are easy to complete. The next thing they do is turn to the internet and ask for help, seeking answers to questions such as “How do you pressure wash a deck?” or “How long should I wait before staining my decking after power washing it?”. Well, let’s see what does it take to bring an old decking back to life.

How to pressure wash a deck before staining

Should you pressure wash a deck before staining it? – The simple answer is “Yes, you should”. Yet, it takes more than power washing to prepare a deck for staining. There are a few steps you should take when it comes to re-sealing and staining a power-washed decking:

How to prepare a deck for jet washing?

It’s important to remove the old stain from the decking before power washing it. This way the new stain coat will adhere properly to the wood and prolong the life of your deck. In order to do so, you should apply a deck stain stripper, which will break up the old stain and prepare the surface for pressure washing.

The next step is to apply a deck brightener. It will restore pH levels in the wood and open up closed and dried grains, allowing the stain to enter the wood and bond with the grain.

What is the process of power washing a decking?

If you’ve applied a deck stain stripper and brightener, you can proceed to pressure washing. Remember to use the lowest pressure, or you might damage the wood. You can clean the deck with water only, but some people still prefer to add a mild cleaning detergent. If you decide to use one, make sure you don’t leave puddles of the product, as it may damage or discolour the wood. When you’re done, leave the decking to dry completely.

How soon after pressure washing my deck can I stain it?

After thoroughly removing the old stain and cleaning the decking, all that’s left is to give it a fresh coat of stain. But how long do you have to wait to stain a pressure-washed deck? It depends on the weather conditions, but the average drying time for a jet washed wood is 48 hours. If you want to be extra sure it’s dry enough to stain, you can wait 72 hours before staining.

Always inspect the decking before applying the stain. Check for any damp areas, if the wood surface is puffy or soft to the touch. If your deck is sheltered from the sun, you can always wait another day to be safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know my deck is dry enough to stain?

If you’re curious whether your pressure-washed decking is dry enough to stain, there are two methods to check:

  • One way to measure the moisture in the wood is to use a moisture meter. It’s best to take probes in several spots. That’s because parts of the deck that are exposed to sun tend to dry quicker than the one that are under shade. The perfect readings for a dry deck are 12%-15%. If the levels are higher, you should wait another day or so before staining your deck.
  • The other way to know if the wood is ready for staining is to give it enough time to dry. It’s already mentioned above, but giving it at least two days to dry completely is a must. You can’t help it if rains on the day you’ve planned to stain the deck. Just accept that you must wait a couple of more days before applying a fresh coat of stain to the wood.

Can you stain a wet deck?

You can, but it’s not recommended. For best results, it’s better to let the wood dry completely.

What will happen if I try to apply stain to a wet deck?

If you stain a deck while it’s still wet from pressure washing, the end result will defer from your expectations. Wood stains are usually pigments mixed in oils, which the wood absorbs. If you apply it on wet surfaces, it won’t be absorbed properly and you will end up with an uneven-looking deck. Also, you’ll be sealing water in the wood which can lead to moss, mould, and mildew problems. Another common problem when staining wet wood is that when it finally dries, the stain cracks and peels and you have to re-do the whole thing.

What temperature should it be to stain a deck?

It shouldn’t be too cold or too hot outside. The perfect weather conditions to stain a deck are a dry, warm day. It shouldn’t be windy or humid. The temperature should be between 10° – 35° Celsius. You don’t want to do it while the sun is directly over the decking because the stain will dry too quickly and won’t be absorbed by the wood.


Do leave a comment below if you feel you need more answers.

Header image source: Shutterstock / By Ruth Peterkin

Posted in Garden Advice

Last update: August 24, 2018

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