A well-stained deck is the pride and joy of many homeowners. Staining enhances your porch’s aesthetic appeal tremendously and makes the wood/lumber less susceptible to rotting, warping, and overall degradation. However, your joy will be short-lived if it rains within hours or days of staining the deck.
If it rains after staining your deck, assess the damage carefully. Maybe you’ll be lucky, and the damage is minor, consisting of a few splotches; wait until the wood is dry, and then sand the problem spots before reapplying a new stain. If the damage is severe, you may need to start from scratch.
Read on to learn how to fix rain damage on a stained deck and tips for best results.
How To Fix Rain Damage on a Stained Deck
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for fixing rain damage on a stained deck. That is because the level of damage on a stained deck following a downpour can vary significantly, necessitating different approaches to the problem.
Nonetheless, rain damage on a stained deck can fall under either one of these categories: minor or major.
Fixing Minor Rain Damage on a Stained Deck
Everyone, from deck-staining experts to the manufacturer’s instructions on the stain’s container, tell you not to schedule a staining project before consulting the weatherman. That is because you can significantly mitigate the damage a downpour can cause to your deck by staining during “safe” days—when the forecast says it might not rain for a few days.
Doing that will allow your stain enough time to set into the wood, reducing its susceptibility to being washed away when it rains. Nevertheless, mother nature is unpredictable, sometimes surprising us with rain without forewarning.
If luck is on your side and the rain is a drizzle, the worst that can happen to your stained deck is a few spots or imperfections here and there.
If that is the case and the rain damage is merely superficial, you can quickly correct it by reapplying the stain on the washed-out spots. However, allowing the deck to dry completely before reapplying the stain would be best.
Do not apply stain on wood that just got rained on, as it won’t be adequately absorbed, resulting in shoddy work and making your wooden deck look dirty. [This is Why Your Wooden Deck Always Looks Dirty]
For minor damage, follow these steps:
- Give the deck ample time to dry. It’s best to wait at least 48 hours.
- Next, start working on the problem spots. How you go about the reapplication will depend on the stain you are using, This is because different stain brands come with special staining instructions and requirements. As such, ensure to read the manufacturer’s instructions keenly before reapplying.
- Sand the washed-out areas and then apply a fresh layer of stain. A good rule of thumb is to experiment on an inconspicuous spot before attempting to correct the more visible imperfections. Doing that will allow you to see whether this course of action will produce the desired results.
Fixing Major Rain Damage on a Stained Deck
Sometimes, the rain won’t be forgiving, resulting in an unsightly mess. One of the tell-tale signs of significant rain damage is extensive peeling or flaking of the stain coat. In such cases, there’s only one solution—to redo the entire process.
Here’s how to go about it:
1. Use a Deck Stain Stripper To Remove the Damaged Stain Coat
You cannot apply a new stain without removing the old one. That is because the whole idea behind staining wood is to provide it with maximum protection against the elements, not to mention giving the lumber an exquisite finish. Thus, it would be best if you stripped the old stain to allow the new one access to the wood’s pores and ensure a smooth finish.
The most effective and efficient way to remove undesirable deck stains is using a wood stain stripper. Wood stain strippers contain caustic ingredients, such as sodium hydroxide, that soften the old wood stain, making it easier to remove through pressure washing.
I recommend using Restore-A-Deck Wood Stain Stripper from Amazon. It not only removes transparent and semi-solid stain coatings but also restores the wood. However, for solid-color stains, you might have to apply the stripper several times to achieve the desired results. It is also eco-friendly.
2. Pressure Wash the Stained Deck
Cleaning a deck via pressure washing is one of the most controversial topics in the woodworking community. Supporters of this cleaning technique say it is the best way of reaching deep into the wood, allowing you to remove stubborn stains and dirt.
Detractors of this method say that power washing can destroy lumber’s structural integrity, weakening the structure.
While both takes have merit, you can find a happy medium by using moderate amounts of pressure to deep-clean your deck. Nevertheless, the ideal pressure depends on your deck’s wood.
For softwoods, such as pine or cedar, I recommend using the lowest pressure setting that allows for a thorough wash-between 500 and 600 psi (pounds per square inch). However, hardwoods can withstand higher pressures of up to 1500 psi.
3. Apply Wood Brightener To Your Deck
After giving your deck a thorough wash, consider applying a wood brightener to make your lumber more receptive to a new stain. You see, most deck stain strippers alter the wood’s pH, compromising its ability to accept new stains.
A wood brightener restores the lumber’s pH, clears up the pores, and makes it brighter, allowing you to experiment with stains of different colors.
I recommend using the Restore-a-Deck Wood Brightener from Amazon. It does an excellent job of neutralizing stain strippers, brightening and restoring the wood, and improving your deck’s ability to absorb a new stain. It also comes at a pretty pocket-friendly price.
4. Sand Your Deck With 80-Grit Sandpaper
Sanding a deck before applying a stain is crucial. It allows you to open up the wood’s pores, ensuring the stain penetrates deep into the wood.
However, you can’t use any sandpaper. For example, fine sandpaper can pack the wood’s pores with dust, making it difficult for your deck to absorb a new stain. On the other hand, coarse sandpaper can damage your deck’s lumber, especially if it is softwood.
Consider using 80-grit sandpaper on your deck. It is neither too fine nor too rough. Sand the deck carefully and methodically for a uniform appearance. Once you have sanded, use a vacuum cleaner to remove the dust.
5. Apply Your Stain and Allow Adequate Drying Time
Considering you are going through all this effort due to the previous downpour raining on your parade, the last thing you need is another shower washing away your efforts.
Therefore, before applying another stain to your freshly-prepared deck, please check the weather forecast first.
You want to be sure there won’t be any rain for at least a week. Your deck needs at least 72 hours to dry completely after prepping it. That is because wet lumber does not stain easily due to moisture clogging up its pores.
A newly-stained deck requires 48-72 hours for the stain to set in properly. That is why you need assurance that it won’t rain for at least a week before you apply another stain; otherwise, your efforts will go down the drain again.
If you cannot get that assurance from the weather forecaster, you would be better off waiting than risking it.
Water-based wood stains typically set much faster than their oil-based counterparts and can cure in as little as 6 hours, meaning your deck can be ready for use in less than 24 hours.
On the other hand, oil-based wood stains typically take up to 48 hours to set and dry. You should also consider how long to leave the stain on the deck before wiping it. [How Long Should You Leave Stain on Wood Before Wiping It?]
Water-Based vs. Oil-Based Wood Stains
As mentioned, deck stains can be either oil-based or water-based. Most DIY enthusiasts regard Oil-based deck stains as the superior option since they provide longer-lasting protection against the elements than water-based wood stains.
However, oil-based stains have their demerits. For starters, they take a long time to set. If you live in an area prone to heavy and consistent downpours, it would be risky to use an oil-based stain due to how long it takes to set.
Oil-based stains are also typically more expensive than water-based wood stains.
Water-based stains are gaining popularity, thanks to how they get absorbed by the wood in record time. As mentioned, water-based deck stains can set in as little as 6 hours.
Moreover, their water-like consistency allows water-based stains to penetrate the wood deeper.
As such, water-based stains might be the best option for people who live in areas prone to constant rainfall.
In that regard, check out #1 Deck Premium Wood Stain on Amazon. What I love about #1 Deck is that it even works on damp wood, allowing you to prime and stain the deck within a short period. It also acts as both stain and sealant, ensuring maximum protection against bugs, mold, and inclement weather.
Few things are as disheartening as watching the rain pound your freshly-stained deck into an eyesore. Your course of action will depend on the resulting damage.
If your deck is still in good condition, save for a few spots, you can fix those problem areas individually by applying a new stain over them. However, if the damage is extensive and the stain flaking—you will have to strip it and start over again.