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The Last Staining Guide You'll Ever Need

Simplify your staining process with this guide

We covered the preparation steps in our last article, so we recommend reading that guide if you need to learn how to choose the proper tools, how to clean your wood deck before applying fresh stain and how to choose the right kind of stain for your surface.

Once you have a good understanding of those steps, or you finished them already, you are ready to consider conditions, application and best practices. Let's explore what comes next. 

1. Think about your conditions

Before applying any stain, you should determine the ideal time frame for the application to take place. A typical stain project can take around two days to allow for proper cleaning and drying times. Some Olympic products allow you to stain on damp wood*, but in general you should plan to set aside a couple days. This way, you will have a built in buffer in case any unexpected weather rolls in or lingers too long. 

This video explains the ideal conditions for a staining project.

2. How to apply stain to your wood surface

Your surface is made up of multiple sections. For decks, it makes sense to apply stain to your rails and trim first, so you can easily walk across the main surface. The following steps provide a good overview of how to order the staining process:

  1. Test a small area to ensure that colour and appearance meet your expectations
  2. If you’re pleased with the results of the test and you have a large enough container, pour your stain into a large bucket to guarantee colour uniformity across every surface
  3. Stir the bucket thoroughly and often to keep the stain from settling
  4. Dip your brush or paint pad directly into the bucket when applying stain 
  5. If you’re using a roller for the large flat surfaces, fill a tray adequately and cover your roller with the stain in your tray  
  6. Apply long, even strokes in the direction of the grain across a few boards at a time
  7. Maintain a wet wedge and back-brush as necessary to remove excess stain
  8. Stain each section without interruption—including end grains—so that your surface dries evenly

This video explains how you can efficiently and effectively apply new stain to your entire deck, including tricky rails and trim. 


If you applied a clear finish, toner, or semi-transparent stain, one coat is enough. You should be able to see the wood grain and texture of your deck. For solid colours, wait two to four hours and apply a second coat just as you did the first.

After you’re done, give the stain between 24-48 hours to dry completely before replacing furniture or walking across the surface.

3. Advice for DIY stainers

You don't need to be a professional contractor or seasoned staining veteran to achieve great results. Watch the video below to learn a few tips that can help you along your way. These tips include using the "X Method" for testing if your deck needs a stripper and an explanation for why regular cleaning makes a huge impact on your stain's lifespan.

* Stain may be applied to a damp, not WET surface. Make sure there are no standing puddles.
NOTE: Please refer to the Product Label, Technical Data Sheet (TDS) or Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for safety and detailed application instructions.

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Variance in monitor calibrations can affect the on-screen representations of our actual paint and stain colours. Your local Olympic® Stains retailer can match and/or order the exact colour that you desire with the help of the Olympic Stain colour name or number.