How Much Does It Cost to Stain a Deck?
A fresh coat of stain can freshen up a discolored, faded, or worn deck. The cost to stain a deck ranges from $540 to $1,250, with many homeowners spending an average of $775.
- The typical range for deck staining costs is $540 to $1,250, with a national average of $775.
- Cost factors for deck staining include deck size, stain type, prep work, sealing and waterproofing, labor, and geographic location.
- A deck with fading, cracking, water stains, or mold is in need of a new coat of stain. Staining can also protect the deck from weather or pest damage, extend the life of the deck, improve its aesthetics, and increase home value.
- Deck staining can be a DIY project; however, if extensive prep work or repairs are needed ahead of time, it’s best to hire a pro who has the equipment and ability necessary to achieve the best-looking results in the shortest amount of time.
A deck is a perfect spot to host a barbecue, relax with family and friends, or enjoy some quiet time reading a book. But if the deck is discolored, faded, and dry, it’s time for a fresh staining. A deck that’s exposed to the elements is vulnerable to harsh UV rays, water damage, rot, and extreme temperatures. According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, the average cost to stain a deck ranges from $540 to $1,250, with the national average at $775. You may be wondering, “How much to stain a deck per square foot?” That cost averages out to approximately $2 to $4 per square foot.
To last the longest, wood decks require regular maintenance and restaining every 2 to 3 years. The cost to stain a deck depends on the size of the deck, the deck’s overall condition, its shape and materials, and the type of stain used. Deck staining professionals typically charge between $40 and $70 per hour for labor, but the overall cost depends on how long the job takes. If the deck needs extensive stripping, sanding, sealing, cleaning, and repairs, the cost can increase significantly.
Homeowners can search online for “deck staining services near me” to find reputable deck staining professionals in the area. After doing so, homeowners will want to be sure to check out their websites, look for reviews, and research them on the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Completing this type of research can help provide homeowners with a better idea of what to expect when hiring a company to complete a deck staining project. When contacting a company, homeowners will want to be sure to explain exactly what services are needed, the condition of the deck, the size, and any custom features; they will also want to mention whether the deck needs any repairs. Any trustworthy deck contractor will be happy to answer any questions and provide references when requested.
Factors in Calculating the Cost to Stain a Deck
The cost of deck cleaning and staining will depend on several factors. Prices can differ from the national average based on the size, condition, and design of the deck. Additional factors include the type of stain, prep work, sealing, waterproofing, labor costs, and a home’s geographic location.
Deck staining costs depend on the size of the deck, the amount of stain needed, and the length of time the staining job takes to complete. An average 12-foot by 20-foot deck costs between $500 and $1,000 to stain, and add-ons can raise the price in addition to the cost of materials and labor. The more square feet that need to be stained, the more expensive the project will be, since it will require additional products and take more time. The average costs to stain a deck by size are shown in the chart below.
There are several different types of stains, each with its own advantages and price factors. Deck stains can be water- or oil-based. Homeowners can choose one of the best deck stains for the type and condition of the wood and the type of look they want for the deck. Natural and transparent stains showcase the wood’s natural color, texture, and grain, while semitransparent stains are slightly pigmented to let the grain show through. Solid stains offer the most protection and resemble paint. The cost of deck stain ranges from $20 to $120 per gallon, depending on the quality.
Staining a deck requires prep work to ensure the stain will adhere properly to the surface. To extend the life of the deck and keep it looking like new, a pro will usually include the price of these services with the overall cost, but homeowners will want to double-check to be sure.
|Prep Work||Cost per Square Foot|
|Power washing||$0.50 to $1.50|
|Sanding||$1 to $4|
|Stripping||$1.50 to $3|
- Power washing: Power washing will remove dirt, debris, mold, mildew, and bird droppings from the surface of the deck. The deck needs to be incredibly clean before the staining can begin. The cost to power wash a deck and then stain it is $0.50 to $1.50 per square foot.
- Sanding: Sanding is the final preparation step to ensure a smooth deck surface and to remove any traces of stain, sealant, or paint. Light sanding usually runs from $1 to $1.50 per square foot including staining, but a more intensive sanding job with staining can cost from $2 to $4 per square foot.
- Stripping: Stripping removes old sealant and stain from the surface of the deck. A solution is applied to the deck so it can dissolve the old stain. If solid stain or paint needs to be removed from the surface, it will also require sanding, since the stripper will not remove the opaque material. Homeowners typically pay between $1.50 and $3 per square foot for stain and paint stripping.
Sealing and Waterproofing
Sealing and waterproofing a deck are a must to keep it looking its best and to avoid water damage, warping, rot, and mold and mildew growth. Adding sealing to a deck staining job can raise the total project cost to between $800 and $1,700, and sealing a deck without staining runs from $550 to $1,300. Some deck professionals will include the cost of deck sealing in the overall cost, but others will view it as a separate service and charge accordingly. There are some stains that are sold as an all-in-one stain, sealant, and waterproofing product. Depending on geographic location, a sealant may work as a waterproofing element, but in wetter areas, a heavy-duty product will likely be needed.
How long does it take to stain a deck? That depends on the condition and size of the deck, the amount of time it takes to complete the prep work, and the kinds of products used. The labor cost to stain a deck usually falls between $40 and $70 per hour, and the process usually takes between 2 and 3 days or more, depending on the extent of the work required. When determining labor costs, homeowners will want to keep in mind that porous wood needs more stain and will take longer to seal.
Budgeting for the cost to stain a deck will need to include consideration for the geographic location. Labor costs are usually more expensive in densely populated urban areas than in suburban or rural areas. In an area that experiences heavy rainfall, there may be additional costs for waterproofing the deck with heavy-duty products. The same goes for hot locations that can experience intense UV damage to deck surfaces. To find the most accurate pricing for deck or porch staining locally, homeowners can search online for “deck staining near me.”
Additional Costs and Considerations
When homeowners are budgeting for a deck staining project, it’s helpful to know about any additional costs or considerations that could potentially raise the overall price. For this type of project, those can include painting, deck repair, and customizations.
Stain vs. Paint
Homeowners may wonder about the difference between staining and painting a deck. Staining a deck protects it from water damage, rot, mold, and mildew. Stain also defends against harmful UV rays, which can cause fading, drying, and discoloration. Protecting a deck with stain makes it easier to clean, gives it an attractive appearance by enhancing the wood grain, and prolongs the lifespan of the wood. Staining a deck is typically more cost-effective at $2 to $5 per square foot, as compared to the cost to paint a deck, which runs from $5 to $9 per square foot. There are many different colors for deck stain, and the cost can be affected by the color the homeowner chooses.
Deck repairs can add to the overall cost of the staining project. Replacing rotted, damaged, or warped boards, addressing insect or termite issues, and treating mold and mildew growth are all possible repairs that a deck may need. Those with a severely damaged deck may need to consider whether they need to repair or replace the deck. The cost of deck repairs can range from $800 to $3,050, depending on the condition of the deck and the severity of the repairs; homeowners will also need to factor in the cost to build a deck if they need to completely replace the old one.
Unfortunately, restaining a deck is not as simple as applying another layer of stain every once in a while. Before a previously stained deck can be painted or restained, it will need to be stripped, cleaned, and sanded. Otherwise, the new stain will not take properly, and the whole project will need to be done again shortly when it wears off. Homeowners can expect to pay about $4 to $7 per square foot for a restaining job.
Stairs, Railings, and Other Features
Multilevel deck designs or decks that include ornate railings, built-in seating, and other custom features will cost more to prep and stain. The cost to stain deck railings ranges from $4 to $12.50 per linear foot, depending on the intricacy of the design. Homeowners will want to remember to factor in all of the surfaces of the stairs when calculating square footage.
Some homeowners decide to add customizations at the same time repairs or staining projects are underway. Some ways to customize a deck are to add built-in seating, misting fans, a fireplace, heaters, or even a pizza oven. Homeowners will want to keep in mind that these customizations would increase the overall project price significantly, and anything involving rewiring or electricity requires a professional electrician.
Annual wood deck maintenance costs are relatively low at $100 to $300. Unless any major damage occurs, this cost will cover cleaning, spot-treating places where the paint or stain has worn away, making minimal repairs, and more. Taking care of these small fixes as part of routine deck maintenance can help homeowners keep costs low when it’s time for a major project like restaining.
Types of Deck Stain
There are many different types of deck stains to choose from to protect a deck from the elements. Each type has its own individual advantages, preferred usage, and pricing. Deck stains can cost from $20 to $120 per gallon, depending on the quality. The following are the types of deck stain available and their average cost per gallon.
|Type of Stain||Cost per Gallon|
|Oil-Based||$35 to $120|
|Semi-solid||$40 to $90|
|Semitransparent||$20 to $100|
|Solid||$25 to $70|
|Transparent or clear||$20 to $60|
|Water-based||$20 to $90|
Oil-based stains deeply penetrate wood surfaces to provide long-lasting protection against the elements. It’s recommended that homeowners reapply oil-based stains every 3 to 5 years. Oil-based stain is easy to apply, water-repellent, and mold-resistant, and it provides a natural look to a wooden deck surface. This stain takes longer to dry than water-based stains, and it doesn’t clean up as easily. Homeowners can expect to pay $35 to $120 per gallon for oil-based stains.
Semi-solid stain allows some of the natural wood grain to shine through while offering more UV protection than transparent stains, making it a popular choice for homeowners. On average, semi-solid stains range from $40 to $90 per gallon.
Moderately tinted to highlight the look of the natural wood, semitransparent stain protects the deck from harmful UV rays. This stain creates an easy-to-clean surface. Semitransparent stain comes in various colors and costs between $20 and $100 per gallon.
Solid stains cover the wood surface with a look that resembles paint. Homeowners with older wooden decks will often choose a solid stain to cover the aging surface. Solid stains provide the most UV protection but are vulnerable to noticeable wear. Available in both water-based and oil-based versions, solid stains can cost from $25 to $70 per gallon.
Transparent, or Clear
Available in both oil-based and water-based versions, transparent, or clear, stain allows the look of the natural wood to be the star of the show. Clear stain is easy to apply and will leave the wood a slightly darker color with a low sheen. This type of stain provides UV protection against discoloration and costs from $20 to $60 per gallon on average.
Water-based deck stains have low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), meaning they’re not as harmful to the environment and don’t leave a harsh smell. Water-based stains provide good resistance to algae, mold, and mildew. These semitransparent stains dry very quickly but are sometimes difficult to apply. They clean up easily with soap and water and should be reapplied every 2 to 3 years. This type of deck stain typically costs between $20 and $90 per gallon.
Do I Need to Stain My Deck?
The sun and harsh weather conditions can wear down the finish on a deck and make it look discolored and old. If there are damaged boards, stains, mold, or mildew, it’s time to get the deck refinished.
Fading or Discoloration
Faded or discolored wood is a red flag that the deck needs to be restained. Staining the wood can restore a weathered deck, beautifying and revitalizing the surface and making it look like new.
Split or Cracked Boards
Split, cracked, or damaged deck boards need to be replaced right away. Boards that are bowing and weak can rot and may sag, break, or collapse when they’re walked on, which can cause serious injuries.
Water stains on the deck mean the wood isn’t properly sealed and isn’t being protected from the elements. A sealed deck repels water and causes it to bead up. Wood boards that absorb water and stain are vulnerable to rot and mold growth.
Mold or Mildew
If the deck has mold or mildew growth, this means that the wood is damp and is absorbing water, and it needs attention. Mold and mildew growth can weaken the wood to the point that it needs to be replaced, resulting in significant costs.
Benefits of Deck Staining
A deck is a significant home investment. It’s important for a homeowner to keep it maintained and in good condition so it looks its best. Staining regularly is an important part of consistent maintenance, and taking care of the deck’s surface can increase a home’s value and protect the deck from pests and weather conditions.
A stained and sealed deck is protected against moisture absorption, mold growth, and rotting. In locations that experience significant freeze and thaw cycles, wooden boards that absorb moisture can be damaged from water freezing within the wood fibers. When a stain and sealant are applied by an experienced professional, the deck surface is protected from rain, snow, ice, and other moisture.
Wood stain helps prevent insect and pest infestation. When wood boards are sealed, pesky insects are prevented from making a cozy home in the wood and blocked from making the deck a tasty meal.
Extended Deck Life
Staining a wooden deck is an excellent way for a homeowner to extend the lifespan of the structure by protecting it from the elements, aging, insects, mold, mildew, and water damage.
Staining a deck improves the look of the wood by enhancing the natural wood grain. There are a wide variety of deck stain colors, hues, and transparencies for homeowners to choose from that can complement the home’s aesthetic and make the deck a more visually appealing feature.
Increased Home Value
An attractive, well-maintained deck can add to the value of a home. When it comes time to sell, potential buyers will appreciate a deck that’s been kept in good condition.
Staining a Deck: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
While homeowners can save money on labor costs by learning how to stain a deck or how to paint a deck themselves, the process involves more than brushing on some stain. The prep work is a crucial part of ensuring that the stain adheres to the wood boards, railings, steps, and posts. Cleaning, stripping, sanding, and sealing the deck are all integral parts of a staining project. A professional may cost more than a DIY project, but these pros have the experience, tools, and equipment to get the job done quickly. Deck staining as a DIY project can cost between $20 and $120 per gallon for the stain alone, depending on the size of the deck. Homeowners will want to keep in mind that they’ll need to pay to rent or purchase a pressure washer, as well as purchase staining supplies such as brushes, rollers, and tape. A sander and stripping product will also add to the overall cost of the project. If repairs need to be done, a professional can handle them and complete them in a timely manner while guaranteeing their work. Overall, hiring a professional for a deck power wash and stain may be more cost effective in the long run—not to mention saving the homeowner time and stress.
How to Save Money on the Cost to Stain a Deck
Budgeting for the cost to stain a deck can be challenging, and the additional fees associated with the project can quickly add up. One way to save money is to choose the cheapest deck staining professional available, but there are other ways to save without compromising on quality.
- Shop around. Get at least three estimates from reputable deck staining professionals in your area.
- Use quality stains. While it may cost more in up-front costs to use a high-quality stain, doing so could save money down the road by prolonging the life of the deck surface and allowing longer periods of time between stainings.
- Do some of the work yourself. If you have a tried and tested store-bought or homemade deck cleaner, you can clean the deck ahead of time. Clearing the deck of furniture, grills, and other objects can also help save on labor costs.
- Sign up for yearly packages. Signing up for yearly maintenance packages can help you prolong the life of the deck. Regular cleanings and prompt repair of damaged areas can help prevent further deterioration.
Questions to Ask About Staining a Deck
Asking a decking contractor the right questions can help homeowners minimize miscommunication and clarify aspects of the project. The following questions can help homeowners choose the best deck contractor and understand the costs associated with the project.
- Are you bonded, insured, and licensed? (Some municipalities require contractors to be licensed, while others do not. Check your local regulations.)
- Do you have references?
- How much does it cost to stain a deck?
- How much stain do I need for my deck?
- What do you recommend for my deck?
- How long will it take to complete the deck staining?
- How do you usually handle unexpected problems?
- Do I need a permit if the deck needs repairs?
- Will the deck need to be cleaned before staining?
- Does the deck need to be sanded before staining?
- How often should the deck be restained?
- What should I do to prolong the life of the deck?
- How do you know what type of stain to use?
- How do you achieve the best long-lasting stain finish?
- What types of warranties do you offer?
- Where can I leave a review?
Understanding the process of staining a deck can result in many questions. The following are a few frequently asked questions to help homeowners understand deck staining and find the right contractor.
Q. Is it better to stain or seal a deck?
Both have their pros and cons, and it ultimately depends on the desired look. Both paint and stain will protect the deck from UV rays and moisture. Stain is more cost-effective and can be easier to apply, and it typically delivers a more natural look than paint. However, paint can last longer—up to 10 years, depending on the prepping method as well as the climate. Paint also comes in a wider variety of colors and finishes.
Q. What is the longest-lasting deck stain?
Solid or opaque stains are considered the longest-lasting deck stains. They cover the wood’s surface and offer the highest UV protection. They require reapplication every 4 to 5 years.
Q. What happens if you don’t seal your deck?
If a wooden deck isn’t sealed, the wood will break down and deteriorate at a much faster rate than if it were sealed. The exposed wood is vulnerable to cracking, splintering, rotting, breaking, and collapsing. This, in turn, increases the risk of injury to those using the deck.
Q. Does a pressure-treated wood deck need to be sealed?
Absolutely. Pressure-treated wood needs to be sealed to protect against water damage, even though it’s treated to be resistant to rot and pest infestations. The wood can still split and warp if it’s not sealed against moisture.
Q. What time of year should you seal your deck?
Warmer months have the best weather for sealing a deck. The warm weather is ideal for cleaning and letting the surface dry thoroughly before applying a sealer. The optimal temperature for sealing a deck is between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit with little wind and no forecast of rain.
Q. Do I need to apply a sealer after staining a deck?
A wooden deck should be sealed after staining to protect it from discoloration, water damage, UV rays, mold, and mildew.
Q. How often should you seal a deck?
It’s recommended that homeowners seal a deck once a year, depending on the condition of the deck and the climate. In sunny and hot locations, sealing once a year is the standard, but those who live in cooler, northern climates can stretch out sealing maintenance to every 2 or 3 years. Keep in mind that northern climates are also more vulnerable to moisture and water damage.