A well-maintained deck makes any home a fun place to be by giving a transition zone between indoor and outdoor living spaces. One of the most important aspects of deck maintenance is periodic staining. Deck stains keep decks in great condition despite constant exposure to sunlight and rainwater. They also give decks beautiful rich colors without covering the natural wood grain that makes decks so inviting and homey. If your deck is looking a little weatherworn, you can bring back its luster by working with a deck staining service or staining it yourself. Either way, these three steps form the basic deck staining procedure.

Deck Cleaning

In order to give your deck the best possible protection, deck stain needs to seep deep into the wood. Dirt, leaves, and other debris will prevent this, so before you apply any stain, you need to thoroughly clean your deck. Some people choose to pressure wash their decks. If you choose to use this method, make sure to set your pressure water to a relatively low-pressure setting and use a wide-spray nozzle. Otherwise, you could damage the wood. If you don't have a pressure washer, you can use a garden hose with a sprayer and some deck cleaner. Make sure to follow the cleaner's directions and to apply the cleaner evenly across every deck board.

Board Sanding

Once your deck is completely clean, you should be able to see any damage the boards have sustained over time. Pay attention to boards that look rough or uneven. Depending on how many rough boards you see, you either want to spot sand the deck or sand the entire deck. If your deck is more than a few years old, sanding it can make it look as good as new again. Sanding may also remove shallow surface stains from some boards. Hand sanding is not recommended for decks, and you shouldn't need to do multistage sanding. Just choose 60- to 80-grit sandpaper to ensure you don't make the surface too smooth for the stain to seep past it.

Stain Application

Once your deck is clean and sanded, you can apply a fresh coat of deck stain. Before you begin, check the weather. Try to find a two-day period where the weather is between 50 and 90 degrees and relatively dry. Plan to apply the stain early in the morning or late in the afternoon to keep it out of direct sunlight while it seeps into the wood. Read the stain's instruction label thoroughly for specific instructions. Generally, people apply deck stains with lint-free rags or wide paintbrushes. As long as you keep the coat of stain relatively even across the deck, the final result should be beautiful.