How to Stain Your Deck

While a deck is a lot of fun, it does require some regular maintenance. See more deck and patio d├ęcor pictures.
Photo courtesy of Benjamin Moore

Coffee in a private oasis on a cool, spring morning, summer barbecues with friends, value added to a home you may eventually want to sell ...

The deck is for the lucky among us, those who have a yard, the right climate and oh, right, the energy for regular maintenance.

For all their relaxation potential, wood decks are not care-free. These structures take time and labor to keep in tip-top shape. Without regular maintenance, the wood can decay, grow mold, weaken and literally fall apart.

And so there's the ritual of staining, best undertaken in spring or fall (because weather counts -- more on that later). Some people look forward to it, though it's not a small job. The process takes at least a weekend, often more, and requires know-how, elbow grease and, ideally, some help from a few of those friends who come to your barbecues.

Staining involves multiple steps, and several factors affect what exactly your own staining process will involve. Still, there are basics that tend to apply across the board, and at least one thing is universal: You can't just grab some stain and jump right in.

First, there is some "cleaning" to be done ...