How Long Should Deck Stain Dry Before Walking On It?  - WoodCritique (2023)

How Long Should Deck Stain Dry Before Walking On It? - WoodCritique (1)I’ve seen many people do an excellent staining job on their deck and end up spoiling the whole thing by walking over the surface. Imagine how devastating it can be to spend the whole day staining your deck to spoil it by walking on it. It might not be intentional that you walk on your stain when it’s still wet, sohow long should deck stain dry before walking on it?

In standard conditions, a deck stain should take approximately 1-2 hours to dry to touch. However, you should wait for about 4-6 hours before you could think about walking on it. In areas that experience cooler weather or high humidity levels, it is recommended that you wait a little longer than the stated duration.

NOTE:If you are going to walk on your freshly stained deck’s surface, ensure that you clean and walk over the surface with bare feet.

I’d advise that you wait for at least one full day before moving light furniture back to the deck. Moving back items too soon might lead to premature peeling of the stain.

Table of Contents

(Video) Old NASTY Deck Wood Stain - Cabot Deck Correct

What Happens if it Rains Before Deck Stain Dries?

If it rains in less than 48 hours after you have stained your deck, for example, the water will soak right into the pores of the wood and displace the stain in the process. The result will be a splotchy surface and not an even one. In case it rains right after you apply the stain, it will peel and flake off.

What’s The Ideal Weather For Deck Staining?

It would be best if you stained your deck when temperatures are cool and dry because this is when the stain best penetrates the wood. So, check out for overcast weather conditions to stain your structure and avoid rainy seasons. If you have to stain your deck, ensure that you do it after the sun is no longer directly shining on your deck.

How to Stain a Deck

Most people do not end up with the best possible finish quality in staining because they follow the wrong procedure or miss some crucial steps. I’ve highlighted some essential steps that you should undertake to ensure that your finish is just what you expected:

  • Before applying stain to your deck, make sure that the deck is clean, you should follow that with a sprinkler test to tell if yourdeck is ready for staining. In the sprinkler test, you sprinkle droplets of water over the surface of the wood. If the wood absorbs water within the first 10 minutes of sprinkling, stain it. If the water beads or pools over the wood, then the deck is not ready for staining. Allow it more days to dry.
  • Working in the wood grain direction, apply an even layer of the stain using a 4-inch brush. Alternatively, you can use a roller for the stain’s initial application and then work it into the wood using the brush.
  • For best results possible, you should at all costs avoid staining at midday or in direct sunlight. If you need to apply a second coat, wait 4 hours between applications.
  • Depending on the prevailing temperature and humidity levels, allow your deck a range of 24 – 48 hours of dry time before using your looking deck.

Can I Pressure Wash My Deck

Yes, it is okay to use a pressure washer for the cleaning of your deck. Ensure that you use a pressure that does not exceed a range of 1200-1500 pounds per square inch (PSI). A pressure washer at 1500 PSI is still considered risky, and if not careful, you might damage softwoods such as pines, etc.

So if you decide to use a pressure washer for your deck, ensure that you are working at a favorable PSI to minimize every chance of damaging your deck in the process.

(Video) How long should i wait to stain a new deck by TLC Pressure Washing

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

Once you have removed all the old stain from your deck and cleaned it, all you will have remaining is to apply a fresh coat of the formula. However, how long should you wait before you stain a pressure-washed deck? If you are working in steady environmental conditions, you should allow your pressure washed deck about 48 hours to dry.

If you want to be sure that the deck has dried, I’d advise that you give it 72 hours before you can go ahead with your staining work.

Frequently Asked Questions On Deck Staining

How do I tell my deck is dry enough for staining?

There are two sure methods of telling if your deck is ready for staining, some of which I’ve already discussed at the beginning of this post. The methods are:

  • How Long Should Deck Stain Dry Before Walking On It? - WoodCritique (2)The use of amoisture meteris one way you can use to test your wood’s water/moisture capacity. Using this tool, put it on several wood spots so that you are sure you have adequately measured the wood. If you get a reading in the range of 12%-15%, then it means that your deck is dry enough for staining. If the levels are higher, then the wood is not dry, and you should allow it more days to dry before you can stain it.

Some of the best moisture meters that you could use includes: Extech MO55 and Wood Moisture Meter.

Watch the video below on how to check moisture in the wood using moisture meter:

(Video) How trying a new wood stain & seal color on my deck turned into a major fail!

  • Another method is the much-publicized sprinkler test where you pour some water on the wood. If the wood absorbs the water within the first few minutes, then you can stain it. If the water pools or beads on the surface, then it is not ready for staining. Allow it more time to dry.

Can you stain a wet deck?

Yes, you can, but I’d not advise you to do that because the stain will not last on the surface. For the best result, allow the wood to dry before you can go about with your staining projects.

What is the best temperature for staining your deck?

It would be best if you were not working in an overly cold or hot environment. The perfect weather conditions for you to stain your deck are dry and warm days. Ensure that the day you are working isn’t windy or with high humidity levels. A temperature range of 10° – 35° Celsius is the best for deck staining.

Additionally, ensure that you are not working when the sun is not directly overhead your deck because it will make the stain dry so fast and not absorb into the wood.

Key Points When it Comes to Staining a Deck

  • It would be best if you did not stain a wet deck by all means.
  • Ensure that you remove the olddeck stainbefore you clean it with a pressure washer
  • Leaving puddles of detergent on the deck can damage or discolor it.
  • Allow your deck up to 72 hours before you can apply a wood stain to it.
  • If you stain a wet deck, you will end up with an uneven finish.
  • Ensure that you are staining your deck on a dry, warm day.


The hard part entails cleaning and staining the wood. However, you can compromise your hard work by being impatient. It is essential to know how long you should wait before you can move over the surface. To determine the best time to move back furniture to your freshly stained deck, you should be able to answer this question…

(Video) Stain a New Deck for the First Time in 5 Easy Steps| DIY Tutorial | How To

How Long Should Deck Stain Dry Before Walking On It?

Well, you must be aware at this point that a stain should take between 1-2 hours to dry to touch. If you are looking to walk over the surface, ensure that you do it after 4-6 hours and clean bare feet.

Waiting for up to 24 hours or more to return your furniture would ensure that your stain cures appropriately and serve you for as long as possible.

Was this article helpful? Kindly let me know what you think in the comment section below.

How Long Should Deck Stain Dry Before Walking On It? - WoodCritique (3)

Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.



How Long Should Deck Stain Dry Before Walking On It?  - WoodCritique? ›

Some deck stains may feel touch-dry after just a couple of hours, but you will almost certainly find that if you walk on them at this point, particularly in shoes, you will leave footprints. To be on the safe side, let stain dry for between six and 24 hours before walking on it or replacing furniture.

How long after staining my deck can I walk on it? ›

Keep off Newly Painted or Stained Deck

In average conditions, your paint or stain will be dry to the touch within 1-2 hours, but you should not walk on it for probably 4-6 hours. In cooler weather or during periods of high humidity, you will need to wait even longer than this.

How long does wood stain take to dry before walking on it? ›

If it is a quick drying stain like Olympic Smart Guard it will be dry within a couple hours. If it is a deep solid color stain you may want to wait 24 hours before stepping on the stained wood surface.

What if it rains 3 hours after I stain my deck? ›

If rain is forecasted, it's worth holding off treating your deck until you know it's going to be dry for a few days. Stains and oils penetrate wood best when it's cool and dry. If it rains within 48 hours of applying a treatment, the water will soak into the wood, and try and displace the stain.

Is it OK if you stain a deck only a couple hours after it dries? ›

It is important to only stain the wood after it has dried completely. Check if the deck is dry enough for staining using a moisture meter. It measures the amount of moisture within the wood itself. If it has rained recently, wait at least 1 to 2 days for the wood to dry before attempting to apply stain.

Is it better to stain a deck in the morning or Evening? ›

Applying a deck stain in direct sun will cause the stain to dry to quickly and can result in premature stain failure. In the summer, stain your deck in the morning or evening so the deck surface isn't too hot. Remember, the surface temperature of the deck can be much hotter than the air temperature.

Why is my newly stained deck sticky? ›

There are several potential reasons for a fresh deck coating being tacky/sticky. Some of the more common reasons are: The porosity and oil content of the timber can significantly affect drying times. Humidity, surface and air temperature on application.

What to do if it rains on newly stained deck? ›

Once rain enters into the decking material, you can expect to see a splotchy appearance. This is because the water has entered into the boards, and disrupted the stain molecules. The only way you can fix it is by restaining your entire deck and allowing it to dry again for 12-48 hours.

Can you walk on freshly stained wood? ›

As a general rule of thumb, you can walk on your deck 24 to 48 hours after it is stained. But there are three main factors that drive how soon you can walk on your deck for the first time. First, the more time you give it to dry we feel the longer-lasting your deck will hold up. Second is temperature.

What is the best weather to stain a deck? ›

Humidity isn't a big issue, but it will take longer for your deck to dry. The perfect temperature for prepping a deck to stain it is between 50 and 89 degrees Fahrenheit on a low humidity day. For most areas in the country, spring and fall are the perfect times of year to stain your deck.

How many coats of stain should you put on your deck? ›

We always recommend two coats of stain for any wood project, but you should only apply as much stain as the wood can absorb. Extremely dense hardwoods may only be able to absorb one coat of wood stain. The general rule of thumb is to apply only as much deck stain as the wood can absorb.

Can deck stain dry overnight? ›

With the temperature above 60 degrees, an oil-based deck stain typically dries in 4-24 hours. Most can take rain within 12 hours though as water will not “wash” out the oil stain from the wood. Wait 24-72 hours for full cure before walking on the deck and replacing furniture.

How long must deck stain dry before rain? ›

First, ensure the deck is completely dry. Remember, no rain 24 hours before you apply stain and no rain 24 hours after the staining project. Assuming the deck is dry and thirsty for stain, it's time to make your deck amazing. When applying stain, a pad, brush, roller, or rag can be used to apply the stain.

Does a deck need 2 coats of stain? ›

Two coats are generally better than one

If the deck has been properly cleaned, it should absorb the first of stain well in to the wood. By applying a second, light coat of material, you will fill up the cell structure of the wood (kind of like topping off the tank) and the project will last longer.

How often should a deck be stained? ›

As a general rule, your deck should be stained every 2-3 years. This can change, however, if you are in an area of high-humidity or especially volatile weather. The signs to look for when determining if you need deck staining are: The stain color of the wood is wearing off.

Is it too late in the year to stain a deck? ›

Fall Temperatures are Optimal for Deck Stain Application

Deck stains should be applied between temperatures above 50 and below 90 degrees Fahrenheit. These last weeks of September, as well as the upcoming weeks of early October, are ideal for completing this maintenance step for your deck.

Can I stain my deck in one day? ›

The key to staining on the same day as prep is to allow all the visible water to dry off the deck. It can be applied to damp wood to the touch not soaking wet wood. Make sure that when applying you only apply as much stain as the wood can absorb. Do not over apply a semi-transparent deck stain.

How many coats of deck stain do I need? ›

We always recommend two coats of stain for any wood project, but you should only apply as much stain as the wood can absorb. Extremely dense hardwoods may only be able to absorb one coat of wood stain. The general rule of thumb is to apply only as much deck stain as the wood can absorb.

How many days do you need to stain a deck? ›

New wooden decks should always receive a coat of paint or stain. Generally, all new decks should dry out for at least 30 days before stain or paint is applied. Although a finish can be applied immediately after construction, more work is involved, so it's best to let the wood fully dry before finishing.

How many days does it take to stain a deck? ›

The typical deck can be stained in a matter of a couple hours given the right circumstances. If the conditions are not right, however, it can take significantly longer. Read below for advice on the conditions needed to make sure your project is completed as quickly as possible.


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