Find Out the Average Cost to Stain a Deck to Protect It

A deck is a fantastic place to relax after a long day or entertain your guests, but it’s easy for a deck to look shabby or fall into disrepair if you don’t take steps to properly maintain it. Cleaning it, sealing it, and restaining it are all ways to extend your deck’s life and make it look like new, and you may wonder what the average cost to stain a deck is if you’re about to take on this project. It’s not as straightforward as you may like to figure out your cost to stain a deck because they come in many shapes, sizes, and use a host of different material and wood types. 

These factors can create a broad range when it comes to figuring out your cost to stain a deck, and pricing will also heavily depend on how much work you need to do. For example, do you need to power wash the surface before you stain it? What about stripping the old stain away or sanding it? If you don’t plan on doing this yourself, the prep work can eat up a lot of your budget with labor costs and equipment rentals. This is why many people choose to DIY and take their time to help get nice results. 

On average, your cost to stain a deck will range from $550 to $1,000. This means that most people find that their cost to stain a deck is right around $750  to take on a 14-foot by 18-foot deck, and it includes minor repairs, cleaning, sealing, and staining the surface. Your cost to stain a deck is between $2.00 and $4.00 a square foot for materials and labor. If you pick out a higher-quality stain, you’ll drive your total costs up. Sealing the wood and washing it before you stain it will also increase your overall cost to stain a deck. 

If you’re not sure whether or not you want to hire a professional or take on this project yourself, you’re in luck. This guide will help break down the biggest cost factors that go into your project price, and you can use them to get a rough estimate and see whether or not it’s in your budget. Keeping your deck functional and safe depends on routine maintenance, so you’ll do this project every few years. 

1 Staining a Deck DIY
Staining your deck can be a very labor-intensive project that can take hours. Some stains don’t allow for mistakes either, so it can be a good idea to factor labor in from a professional company when you figure out your total cost to stain a deck.
Staining the deck by Scott Feldstein / CC BY 2.0

How Different Deck Stains Impact Your Cost to Stain a Deck

One of the first things you have to decide is the type of deck stain you want to use. High-quality stains will provide protection for your deck against UV rays, and some offer more protection than others. You buy stain by the gallon, and it can add to your cost to stain a deck by: 

Clear

Clear stain is commonly used if you want to enhance your deck’s natural coloring. It lets the wood grain shine through once you have it on. If you choose to use a clear stain, you’ll want to get an oil-based product because this offers better protection for your deck. Per gallon, clear stain will drive up your cost to stain a deck by $20.00 to $50.00. 

Deck Resurfacer 

There is a huge amount of deck resurfacers available on the current market that are nice to use in wet areas where your deck could get slick to walk on. It gives you a slip-resistant finish, but it’s not very practical if you have a very weathered deck. This product costs between $25.00 and $50.00 a gallon, so it’s affordable. 

Hybrid Blend

Hybrid blends offer you low VOCs, and this makes them an environmentally-friendly product as well as making them safer for you to use. The cost to stain a deck using this product is slightly more expensive, and it’ll run between $40.00 and $60.00 a gallon. 

Oil-Based

Oil-based stains are very popular for refinishing hardwood flooring, but it also works very well on your deck or patio. This product is very easy to apply and it soaks into the wood easily to give you an even coat. It doesn’t peel or crack, but it does take longer to dry. Soap and water also won’t work for cleanup, so it can be messier. Yoru cost to stain a deck with an oil-based stain will range from $25.00 to $50.00 a gallon. 

Transparent

Don’t confuse transparent stains with clear stains. Transparent stains do show the color of the wood and the grain, but they will also cast a slight color difference for the wood. Clear stains won’t do this. Your cost to stain a deck with a transparent option ranges from $25.00 to $60.00. 

Semi-Transparent

This stain is very unlikely to peel once you get it on and it dries, and this makes it a popular choice for decks that get a lot of use or see a host of different weather conditions. You’ll get a slightly darker tone for the range and color of the wood with this stain, so it’s nice for lighter colored wood types like maple or white oak. The cost to stain a deck with this choice starts at $25.00 and goes up to $90.00 a gallon. 

Solid

A solid stain will slowly change your deck’s current color and hue when it dries. It will also work to conceal the wood grain under the surface. You’ll use a solid stain if you have a lot of blemishes in the deck that you want to hide. This is also the most UV-resistant type out of any of them, and the cost to stain a deck using it will range from $25.00 to $65.00 a gallon. 

Water-Based

Any water-based stain is harder to apply to your deck because it has a very fast drying time to it and you can’t make mistakes with it. It does end up having a protective film over your deck, but it’s also prone to peeling and cracking over time. This means that you could have to redo it sooner to protect your deck. However, it’s eco-friendly and easy to clean up. The cost to stain a deck with it starts at $20.00 a gallon and goes up to $40.00 a gallon. 

2 Types of Deck Stains
You want to ensure that you pick out the correct stain type for your deck. Some are more complicated to apply and some won’t last as long as others. The goal is to find a durable stain that will look nice for at least two years after you apply it.
Freshly Stained Deck by b0jangles / CC BY 2.0

Price Factors for Deck Staining

The total cost to stain a deck will vary depending on several different factors. Everyone has a slightly different situation, and the most common variations to factor into your budget include: 

  • Detailed Stripping or Sanding – These services will cause a hefty price increase to your total cost to stain a deck. One trick to check and see if your deck needs either of these services is to pour water on it. If the water beads up on the deck, you’ll have to sand it. If the deck was originally treated or painted with a solid stain, you’ll strip it. 
  • Material – Which material is your deck made out of? When you consider a wooden deck, the wood’s porosity will determine how much stain it takes to get an even coat. This will impact the cost of the stain, and it’ll also drive you labor costs. If you have more porous wood, it’ll add between $100 and $200 to your project cost. 
  • Power Washing – Power washing your deck will add to the final costs to the tune of $75.00 to $150. You can do this yourself if you have a power washer handy and a little time. 
  • Quality of the Stain – No matter if you’re going to use waterproofing products, sealant, or stain, the quality of your products will cause prices to fluctuate. Higher-quality products can cause your costs to rise by $40.00 to $100. 
  • Repairs – You may have to do repairs before you stain your deck like replacing warped or rotted boards, loose nails, treating termite problems or fixing scratches or gouges in the wood. Each repair will add to your cost to stain a deck by $50.00 to $350. 
  • Size – The deck’s size will have a big impact on the total cost to stain a deck. Since contractors charge by square foot, you can expect to pay between $300 and $500 for smaller decks. This price jumps to $750 to $1,750 for bigger projects. 

Deck Size and Price Points

Along with the type of stain you pick out, your deck’s size will also factor into your budget. Also, you want to get wood filler and patch your deck before you stain it to make the process go quicker so even larger decks won’t blow your budget. The prices start at $300 and go up, and the following costs to stain your deck estimates include cleaning, staining it, and resealing it: 

  • 10-feet by 10-feet – $300
  • 12-feet by 12-feet – $450
  • 12-feet by 14-feet – $500
  • 14-feet by 14-feet – $590
  • 12-feet by 18-feet – $650
  • 14-feet by 18-feet – $750
  • 16-feet by 16-feet – $775
  • 12-feet by 24-feet – $875
  • 14-feet by 24-feet – $1,000
  • 16-feet by 24-feet – $1,150
  • 20-feet by 20-feet – $1,200
  • 24-feet by 24-feet – $1,750

A gallon of stain can cover between 150 to 300-square feet. So, if you have a deck that is 300-square feet, your cost to stain a deck will range from $50.00 to $150. A bigger deck that is 400-square feet will cost between $75.00 and $200. If the deck is much bigger than that at 600-square feet, your cost to stain a deck will jump to $100 to $300 for the stain alone. 

Costs Associated with Refinishing a Deck

Refinishing your deck is important to help strengthen it while making it look like it’s brand new. You could consider just staining it, but you’ll have to add on a few more tasks to get it ready to accept the stain. Regardless of whether you stain or refinish it, the following will add to your cost to stain a deck while increasing its longevity: 

Power Wash and Stain

Using a pressure washer on your deck will help get rid of any debris, dirt, mold, and mildew. Once you get everything off and allow your deck to dry, you can apply your stain. If you choose to have a company come in and power wash your deck before applying the stain, your cost to stain a deck will range from $300 to $1,750. 

Sand and Stain

Sanding a deck is another task that can take a lot of time to accomplish, and it can drive your cost to stain a deck up if you call in a company to do it for you. If the deck has warped, it’ll need a heavier degree of sanding to make it flat again. If your deck already has a solid stain or layer of paint, you’ll have to sand it to strip it back to the boards before you apply the stain. When you power wash the deck, it can cause splinters to appear that you want to sand away too. Sanding will add to the cost to stain a deck by $700 to $2,300, depending on the deck’s size. 

Strip and Stain

If you strip your deck, you’re removing any old sealant or stain from the boards before you apply a new coat. If you leave the sealant or stain on the wood and try to apply another layer over it, the stain won’t get into the wood. Instead, it’ll sit directly on top of it, and this means it won’t protect it as much. Adding a stripping solution will cause the old sealant or stain to dissolve so you can wash it away. 

It’s very labor-intensive to apply this stripping solution, so it can drive up your cost to stain a deck by $500 to $2,000. This includes restaining the deck. Also, if your deck had a solid stain, your stripping solution won’t remove it all. You’ll have to budget to sand it too. 

Stain Handrails

If you have a company come in and perform this for you, ask if they include staining the handrails on your deck in your original cost to stain a deck estimate. Some will and some companies will charge extra. Depending on how intricate the work on your railings are, you could end up paying between $4.50 to $8.50 a linear foot. 

Stain Railings

This is another part that usually gets included in the original pricing. If they don’t include it and charge you extra for it, it’ll add to your cost to stain a deck by $4.50 to $8.50 a linear foot. 

3 Stripped Deck
Starting this project with a stripped deck will ensure that the stain has something to adhere to evenly, and it’ll also help it sink in better to give you an even coat that provides adequate protection against rain and the local climate.
Back deck before stain by Bonnie Jeffs / CC BY 2.0

Cost to Clean the Deck Before Staining It

There are several things you can do to help keep your deck in top shape. You want to sweep or blow off your deck to remove water, leaves, debris, and snow. You should perform an annual cleaning with a deck cleaning solution and utility brush. Spray it off with a hose to help control debris and dirt. This will also help prevent mildew or mold growth. Don’t use regular bleach to clean the deck, and cover any plants, bushes, or shrubs to protect them. 

Keep any landscaping items like grass or trees cut back from around your deck to prevent moisture buildup and rot. Don’t cover your deck with jute rugs or rugs with natural fibers. These rugs can retain moisture every time they get wet and encourage mildew growth or rot. You also want to check your deck regularly for repairs like loose nails or boards, rotting sections, wobbly posts, or moisture issues. Fixing them right away will ensure they don’t turn into huge problems. Also, different deck materials require different maintenance levels, including: 

  • Aluminum – Light washing and spraying – $25.00 to $30.00 a year 
  • Composite – Pressure washing – $80.00 to $300 a year 
  • Fiber Cement – Light washing and spraying – $25.00 to $30.00 a year
  • Modified Wood – Light washing and spraying – $25.00 to $30.00 a year
  • Pressure-Treated Wood – Stain and seal – $750 a year
  • Vinyl – Pressure washing – $80.00 to $300 a year 

Waterproofing Your Deck Prices

Waterproofing and sealing your deck is a vital part of keeping it looking good and making sure it lasts as long as it can. You use sealers to waterproof it. However, wetter planting zones do require you to buy heavy-duty waterproofing products and apply them to your deck. You could even opt out of sealing it if this is the case and you need a heavy-duty solution. If you do, you’ll have to pressure treat the wood and have your deck made from something like redwood or cedar so it doesn’t rot. You can use: 

  • Boiled Linseed Oil – This is a much slower drying product. You’ll have to apply it more than once over several days for it to work correctly. It’ll add $9.00 a quart to your cost to stain a deck. 
  • Lacquer – You’ll typically use this on furniture and not your deck because it tends to take on a yellow sheen over time. You’ll pay around $15.00 a quart for it. 
  • Tung, Teal and Walnut Oil – All three of these products have a very similar consistency to them. They use a mix of various resins, oils, and solvents to dry quickly and form a protective coating. They’ll add to your cost to stain a deck by $9.00 to $20.00 a quart. 
  • Varnish or Polyurethane – These are both very durable waterproofing options. Spar varnish is one of the top picks for your deck because it’s very resistant to weather and climate changes. This is more expensive, and your cost to stain a deck will go up by $17.00 a quart. 
  • Water-Based Finishes – This type of finish is very easy to clean up when you stain your deck, and it can help protect against mildew or mold growth. However, you’ll have to reapply it every two to three years, so this can really drive your cost to stain a deck up. Water-based sealants cost around $17.00 per quart. 

Price to Add a Deck Brightener 

If your deck is starting to look dull or faded, you can apply a deck brightener to bring it back to looking like new. This product works to highlight the original beauty of the wood on your deck. There is no bleach in this product’s makeup, and it is non-corrosive. This means you don’t have to worry about damaging your deck. It contains cleaning agents that will get rid of any mildew and dirt on your deck, and it can help get the wood ready to apply stain. Deck brightener will add around $16.00 a gallon to your cost to stain a deck budget. 

Labor Costs

It’s a good idea to hire a professional if you plan on staining your deck since it can be a very involved and complicated process. However, labor costs can significantly drive your cost to stain a deck up. The entire process can easily take between two or three days, depending on which products you pick out. 

The first day the company will come out and sand, strip, and/or pressure wash your deck to get rid of any old stain or sealant you have on it. The second day is the day that they actually stain it. They may need a third day to come back and apply the waterproofing product or sealer if you want it. Most companies will charge you by the square foot for this project, and costs range between $1.50 and $3.00. So, if you have a larger deck, be prepared to pay more. 

Where to Find Professional Deck Stainers Near You

If you decide that you’d rather have a professional company come in and take on this project for you, you’ll want to look for multiple quotes around your area. You can start here: 

Frequently Asked Questions

4 Cost to Stain a Deck FAQs
There are several questions you can ask when you start learning how to stain your deck, and the following questions will help you understand the scope of this project far better.
Second Week YCC hungry mother sp 114 by VSPYCC / CC BY 2.0

1. How frequently do you have to stain your deck?

Staining your deck is part of the necessary ongoing maintenance costs you get when you choose to put a deck in on your property. Depending on the traffic, climate, and type of stain you choose, you’ll re-stain your deck every two or three years. If you get a fiber cement or aluminum deck, you may never have to apply more stain since they’re more durable. 

2. Is it possible to use a roller to apply your deck stain?

Yes. It’s possible for you to use a roller to apply stain to your deck. However, you will want a traditional paintbrush or a foam brush to get into any hard-to-reach areas like between railings or in corners. This will ensure you get neat and even coverage. 

3. What causes deck stain to peel each year?

Deck stain shouldn’t peel every year. If it does, this could be a sign that you performed incorrect prep work, the work was a lower quality, or you picked out the wrong type of stain or sealant. Additionally, using too much stain can cause it to peel. 

4. What is the difference between waterproofing, staining, and sealing a deck?

Each one of these items help to accomplish different goals. Staining will help make your deck look good and finish it. Sealers will sink into the wood to protect it from moisture that can cause rot, and it still allows for normal humidity to enter and exit. Sealers and stains can provide light waterproofing, but a waterproofing product will protect your deck more from mildew and mold. 

5. How long does it take to stain a deck?

For every 500-square feet, it takes roughly 20 hours to stain it. This includes three to five hours of staining itself, and it also includes any cleaning or prep work. You’ll usually pay for around 20 hours of labor for small or medium-sized decks. 

Bottom Line 

Your total cost to stain a deck will fluctuate depending on several factors, and no two decks are the same. So, your neighbor’s costs could be 100% different from yours for the same sized deck. Use this guide to put together a rough estimate before you call local contractors and get quotes from them. Find the one that matches your budget the best to give you professional-grade results that will protect your deck for years to come. 

Cost to Stain a Deck 1 Cost to Stain a Deck 2

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