Get Help from Bob Vila
- Give-Aways & Offers
- Monthly Must Do's
- DIY Project Ideas
- Step-by-Step Guides
- Inspirational Photo Galleries
Outdoors, stain helps wood furniture or backyard equipment look at home in the landscape. Whether you’re working on an Adirondack chair or a swing set (like I did), the same do-it-yourself process applies. Note that many outdoor stains are meant to be added when your local temperature is within a certain range, so carefully check for the recommendation listed on the packaging of the product you plan to use. Also, for optimal curing, make sure that your stain will be able to dry completely. That means watching the weather forecast and if necessary, interrupting the regular operation of your lawn irrigation system.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Deck cleaner
- Pump sprayer
- Scrub brush
- Garden hose with spray nozzle
- Ladder (optional)
- Paint brushes
- Water bucket
- Clean rag
If applicable, remove all peripherals and extras from the outdoor wood piece you are staining. (For example, in my own project, I detached the swings and climbing gear from our children’s play set.) Tape over any unremovable parts of the wood piece that you do not wish to stain, such as metal bolt heads.
For best results, the wood you are staining should be free of dirt and mildew. Apply deck wash (or a homemade water-and-bleach solution) with a pump sprayer to clean the surface. Scrub any spots that are especially dirty, rinsing them with water as you go. Allow at least 24 hours for the wood to dry completely.
Beginning at the highest point, brush on your stain in the direction of the wood grain. Because stain is thinner than paint, it’s a good idea to keep a bucket of water and a clean rag handy; that way, you can easily address accidental drips. Add a second coat (once the first has dried) for a smoother finished look.
Strictly speaking, pressure-treated wood does not require staining. That said, stain helps outdoor wood look nicer for a longer period of time. There are lots and lots of color choices, from traditional tones to bright hues. With a paint brush and a weekend of work, you can add a lot of character to your property this way.