How Much Does It Cost to Stain a Deck?
Is your deck looking discolored, faded, worn, and old? Freshen it up with a brand-new coat of stain. The cost to stain a deck ranges from $540 to $1,250, with many homeowners spending an average of $775.
- Typical Range: $540 to $1,250
- National Average: $775
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 you notice 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 $1.00 to $2.50 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.
Search online for “deck staining services near me” to find reputable deck staining professionals in your area. Once you find available deck staining services in your community, be sure to check out their websites, look for reviews, and research them on the Better Business Bureau. Completing this type of research can help give you a better idea of what to expect when hiring a company to complete a deck staining project. When you contact a company, be sure to explain exactly what you need, the condition of the deck, the size, any custom features, and if it also needs 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 because of the size, condition, and design of the deck. Additional factors include the type of stain, prep work, sealing, waterproofing, labor costs, and a homeowner’s geographic location.
Deck staining costs depend on the size of the deck, how much stain is needed, and how long the staining job takes to complete. An average 250-square-foot deck costs between $400 and $600 to stain, and add-ons can raise the price to $800, including materials and labor. The more square feet that need to be stained, the more expensive the project will be since it requires additional product and will take more time.
Depending on a deck’s condition, there may be other expenses involved before staining. The condition determines the extent of how much power washing, sanding, and stripping will need to be done and how long they will take. If the deck has damaged or rotten boards, they will need to be replaced before staining can begin.
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 deckrailings ranges from $4.50 to $8.50 per linear foot, depending on the intricacy of the design.
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 according to what type of look they want for the deck. Natural and transparent stains showcase the wood’s natural color, texture, and grain. 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 always double-check to be sure.
- 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. Expect to pay $0.50 to $1.50 per square foot for a deck power wash and stain service.
- 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 $3.00 per square foot for stain and paint stripping.
- 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 $1.00 to $1.50 per square foot including staining, but a more intensive sanding job with staining can cost from $2.00 to $4.00 per square foot.
Sealing and Waterproofing
Sealing and waterproofing a deck is 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 $1,275. 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 that can cost between $30 and $50 per gallon.
Depending on your geographic location, a sealant may work as a waterproofing element, but in wetter areas, a heavy-duty product will be needed. Here are some common products used to seal and waterproof wooden decks.
- Boiled linseed oil: Boiled linseed oil costs about $9 per quart. This slow-drying oil needs to be applied multiple times over several days and will soak into the wood to provide protection against weathering and moisture.
- Lacquer: Lacquer takes a long time to dry and is known to yellow over time. Since it’s prone to cracking and peeling, many homeowners choose a more durable wood sealant. Lacquer costs about $15 per quart.
- Tung, teal, and walnut oils: These oils are penetrating sealers that enhance the wood grain. They’re recommended for cedar railings and can be applied with a brush or a roller. These quick-drying oils can cost between $9 and $20 per quart.
- Varnish or polyurethane: Spar varnish is a durable water-resistant sealant that costs about $17 per quart. Using polyurethane on an outdoor deck requires that it contain UV protection. Be sure that it is labeled for outdoor use so it resists chipping.
- Water-based sealants: Water-based sealants cost $17 per quart on average. Easy to apply and clean up, these sealants protect against mold and mildew growth, but they do need to be applied more often, about every 2 to 3 years.
How long does it take to stain a deck? That depends on the condition and size of the deck, how long it takes to complete the prep work, and what kind of products are used. Deck staining professionals typically charge 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, keep in mind that porous wood needs more stain and will take longer to seal.
Budgeting for the cost to stain a deck should include consideration for your geographic location. Labor costs are usually more expensive in densely populated urban areas than in suburban or rural areas. If you live 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 in your area, search online for “deck staining near me.”
Additional Costs and Considerations
When 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
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 $1.00 to $2.50 per square foot, as compared to the cost to paint a deck, which runs from $2 to $5 per square foot. Deck paint costs between $30 and $50 per gallon.
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. The cost of repairs can range from $725 to $2,500, depending on the condition of the deck and the severity of the repairs or if the deck needs to be rebuilt.
Some homeowners decide to add customizations at the same time repairs or staining projects are underway. Some ways to customize a deck would be to add built-in seating, misting fans, a fireplace, heaters, or even a pizza oven. Keep in mind that these customizations would increase the overall project price significantly, and anything involving rewiring or electricity requires a professional electrician.
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.
Water-based deck stain runs from $20 to $90 per gallon. These 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 and are sometimes difficult to apply. They clean up easily with soap and water and should be reapplied every 2 to 3 years.
Oil-based stains deeply penetrate wood surfaces to provide long-lasting protection against the elements. It’s recommended to 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. Expect to pay $35 to $120 per gallon for oil-based stains.
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.
Semi-solid stains range from $40 to $90 per gallon. These types of stains allow some of the natural wood grain to shine through while offering more UV protection than transparent stains.
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, and semitransparent stains come in various colors. Semitransparent stain costs between $20 and $100 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.
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 you notice 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 the beauty and vitality to the surface and make 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 lead to rot and may sag, break, or collapse when they’re walked on, which can cause serious injuries.
If you notice water stains on the deck, that means 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, it needs attention. This means that the wood is damp and is absorbing water. Mold and mildew growth can weaken the wood to the point where it needs to be replaced, resulting in significant costs.
Benefits of Deck Staining
A deck is a significant home investment. It’s important to keep it maintained and in good condition so it looks its best. Regular staining is an important part of consistent maintenance, and doing so 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. If you live in a location that experiences 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 is applied by an experienced professional, the deck surface is protected from rain, snow, ice, and 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 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. Stains are available in multiple colors, hues, and transparencies 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.
Cost to Stain a Deck: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
While homeowners can save money on labor costs by staining a deck themselves, the process involves more than brushing on some stain. The prep work is a crucial part of ensuring the adhesion of the stain to the wood boards, railings, steps, and posts. Cleaning, stripping, sanding, and sealing the deck are all integral parts of a staining project. Hiring a professional may cost more, 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 $250 for the stain alone, depending on the size of your deck. Keep in mind that renting a pressure washer costs about $38 per day, and staining supplies, such as brushes, rollers, and tape, can cost between $10 and $30 each. 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.
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 would be to choose the cheapest deck staining professional you can find, 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, it 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. Clearing the deck of furniture, grills, and other patio objects can help save on labor costs.
- Sign up for yearly packages. Signing up for yearly maintenance packages can prolong the life of the deck. Regular cleanings and prompt repair of damaged areas can help prevent further deterioration.
Questions to Ask About the Cost to Stain a Deck
Asking a decking contractor the right questions can minimize miscommunication and identify the right professional for you. The following questions can help you 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 with 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 we 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. Here are a few frequently asked questions to help explain deck staining and find the right contractor for your needs.
Q. Is it better to stain or seal a deck?
Both have their pros and cons, and it ultimately depends on the look you want. Both paint and stain will protect your 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 painting. However, paint can last longer—up to 10 years, depending on how you prep the deck and your 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 was sealed. The exposed wood is vulnerable to cracking, splintering, rotting, breaking, and collapse. 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 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 to 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.