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The Home Depot

Why Is My Deck Stain Peeling?

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Deck & Porch > Why Is My Deck Stain Peeling?
Why Is My Deck Stain Peeling?

You shell out major money to build a deck in the backyard and you expect it to stay beautiful for years. It is the job of your professional installer to inform you of all proper maintenance techniques in order to care for the wood correctly. However, because your deck receives regular punishment from the wind, rain, sun and even snow, it needs continual protection to prevent moisture from absorbing into the wood fibers.


Once you learn the fundamentals about keeping wood beautiful and in excellent condition, you’ll understand why staining the wood should become a regular task. Remember, applying stain is not without its problems and you will quickly realize this if the stain job begins to peel. Utilizing a professional service provider will guarantee the project is completed for optimal quality and results.

  1. 1.First Step

    Before you do anything, check your wooden deck to see whether more stain can be applied. An easy way to check is to spray water onto the wood, waiting to see if it absorbs or beads on the surface. If the water beads, it cannot be restained yet, even if the current stain is peeling. Beading water indicates that the wood is not ready for additional stain and attempting to retreat it will only end in failure. If you wish to proceed anyway without waiting another year or two, the existing stain will need to be removed using a product that eliminates wood finishes from decks. Qualified professionals will always have the appropriate materials and products on-hand for such a job and will be the best resource for this particular project.

  2. 2.Problematic Prepping

    The preparation work performed on the wood of the deck prior to staining is crucial for optimal performance. Improper preparation of the wood is the main reason a new coat of stain peels off shortly after being applied. If your previous service provider was the cause of the problem, contact another company to complete the job to avoid another mishap.


    Cleaning the entire wood surface thoroughly with a deck cleaning solution removes all soil, dirt and grime from the wood. A professional will choose a deck cleaner that does not contain chlorine bleach, because bleach may damage the wood. Depending on the company you choose to hire, they may also power wash the surface for a complete surface preparation.


    Once the wood surfaces have been cleaned and neutralized, any remaining layers of stain should also be removed before applying additional coats. Applying new stain directly over the existing treatment sets the new layer up for failure. The current stain layer – probably peeling and patchy – will not provide a quality base for the new stain.


    The wood will need to dry out completely for about five days before the new stain is applied or else moisture can become trapped inside, causing future peeling and blistering.

  3. 3.Sanding Slip-Ups

    The surface of the wood should be completely smooth to enable efficient and effective penetration of the new stain. This is achieved by sanding the wood laboriously to guarantee the stain remains vibrant and beautiful month after month. All dust and debris is then removed from the surface.

  4. 4.Wrong Type of Stain or Sealer

    The home center will have a large variety of stains and sealants available for wood – unfortunately, if you choose the wrong one you’re going to be sorry. Choose a stain designed for exterior wood decks to ensure that the product penetrates the wood at the correct rate. Interior stains will not resist mold and mildew and they also offer no UV protection.


    Choose a penetrating stain to protect the deck, and avoid water-based acrylic stains because they often do not saturate effectively.


    Avoid bargain hunting as you search for the perfect deck stain – lesser quality stains often fail faster and don’t perform well. If you reach a point of uncertainty, allow the professionals to choose the appropriate stain for your wooden deck. You can always consult with them on color, while leaving the quality in their hands.

  5. 5.Application Problems

    Always wait at least three weeks before choosing to apply stain to a brand new deck. This will also allow any residual moisture in the wood to evaporate. Don’t wait too long, though. If you wait three months or longer, the wood may already show signs of damage. Speak with a professional to determine the best possible time to treat your deck to prevent the layers of stain from peeling afterwards.

  6. 6.Get Your Deck Restained

    By availing yourself of Pro Referral's help, you can sit back, choose your professional and watch the professionals transform your deck into something beautiful once more. Simply submit a work request for deck painting, and we'll will provide you with a list or professionals you might hire. Choose up to 5 professionals and the rest of the project will unfold with very little effort from you. There’s a win-win situation for you!

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