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How to Apply Behr Deck Stain: in Simple Steps

Your deck is on the front line of rain, wind, and UV radiation attacks. Deck stain protects and preserves.

Applying Behr deck stain is not complicated, but it does require elbow grease. Staining your deck is one of the most satisfying DIY tasks and gives instant results. But knowing how to apply Behr deck stain is crucial if you want the best finish.

We explain how to apply deck stain and share tips to get you working like a pro.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose the right Behr deck stain finish: solid, transparent, or semi-transparent.
  • Prepare the deck by cleaning, sanding, and securing loose nails.
  • Apply the stain with a paintbrush, working with the wood grain, and sand between coats.
  • Allow the deck to dry for 72 hours before using it again.

How to Apply Behr Deck Stain

Before we get into the details of how to apply deck stain, we first need to gather the right tools and equipment. We will be using Behr Premium Semi-Transparent Deck Stain to deliver the best results.

What You’ll Need

  • Behr Premium Semi-Transparent Deck Stain.
  • 180-grit sandpaper.
  • Power sander.
  • Scrubbing brush.
  • Bucket of soapy water.
  • Hammer.
  • Shop-vac.
  • Pressure washer (optional).
  • Paint sprayer (optional).
  • Paintbrush.
  • Roller and paint tray (optional).
  • Face mask.
  • Goggles.
  • Knee pads.
  • Gloves.

1. Clear the Deck

You can’t stain your deck if it is covered in furniture. Remove all the tables and chairs and any other items. Store them in the garage for the time being. Also, remove planters and barbecues.

2. Don Safety Gear

Staining a deck may not seem dangerous, but sanding releases sawdust and particles of old deck stain. Inhaling these is bad news because it could irritate your eyes and lungs.

Wearing gloves protects your hands against splinters, and the knee pads ease the pressure on your knees.

3. Clean the Deck

cleaning terrace with a power washer - high water pressure cleaner on wooden terrace surface

You cannot paint onto dirt and grime because the stain won’t adhere. Decks gather moss, green slime, mold, and other debris, so putting in the prep work is crucial.

Behr deck stain application requires a lot of prep work, especially if you want the stain to last upwards of 10 years.

Grab the pressure washer and connect it to an outside faucet. This Sun Joe SPX 3000 is a great model to use. Switch it on and blast the surface of the deck.

Point the nozzle at 45 degrees to keep the spray away from your face, and always work downwind. Work in sweeping motions along the length of the deck boards. Do the same for railings and steps.

If you don’t have a pressure washer, don your knee pads and scrub the deck boards with soapy water and a scrubbing brush. This takes a lot longer than using a pressure washer, but it is effective.

Once clean, allow the deck to dry in the sun.

Take Note: The deck needs to be bone dry because the stain will fail to adhere to wet patches.

4. Sand and P. rep

Use the hammer to tap down any raised nails so that they sit flush with the deck’s surface. Grab the sander and plug it in. Start on the outer facing surfaces, removing splinters and rough patches.

When you have sanded the deck, use the shop-vac to remove the sawdust. Finally, sweep the deck with a broom.

5. Stain the Deck

There are three ways you can stain your deck: with a paintbrush, a roller, or with a paint sprayer, like this Graco Magnum Airless Sprayer. Spraying or using a roller is faster but a lot messier because you risk getting stain over your sidings and driveway.

If you don’t have the budget for a mechanized paint applicator, you can buy a pump sprayer, like this Vivosun Pressure Sprayer. It is intended for use with water, but you should be able to adapt it for deck stain by watering it down.

Also, rollers are excellent for flat surfaces like deck boards but not for railings and handrails. We have opted to use a paintbrush because everyone knows how to use one.

A four-inch brush, like this Amazon Basics Flat Edge Brush, is ideal for the best coverage because it is cheap and gives excellent coverage.

Applying Behr deck stain is not like using paint and primer. It soaks into the wood and creates a seal on the surface.

Start on the outer facing surfaces like the railings and handrails. Work back and forth in sweeping motions to get an even layer of stain. Next, move onto the deck board, starting in the farthest corner from the deck entrance.

Top Tip

Don’t forget to push the stain into the gaps between each board to coat the sides. If they are left exposed, they will rot.

6. Sand Between Coats

Once the first coat is down, leave the deck to dry in the sunshine. Then grab the sander and lightly smooth the deck boards. Use the shop-vac to remove sawdust, and you are ready for the second coat.

Repeat the process to lay down the second coat.

Behr Deck Stain Dry Time

It dries to the touch in about thirty minutes and is ready for recoats within one to two hours. However, you should wait 72 hours before using the deck.

Behr Deck Stain Colors

While we’ve opted for the semi-transparent stain, you can use other colors. Some people prefer darker gloss stains, while others like the appearance of the natural wood grain. Let’s look at the options:

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Solid Stains

Solid stains are ideal for wooden decks that have aged or show signs of wear and tear. It covers the wood entirely, blocking the grain from showing through. The advantage is that it hides a multitude of sins and instantly changes the deck’s look.

Solid stains are not without problems. They will fade, peel, and scuff more readily than transparent stains.


Semi-transparent deck stains offer the best of both worlds. They have a slight tint that colors the deck, but the wood grain still shines through. If you want to add character to a newly laid deck, this is the best product to use.


Transparent stains have zero color pigments. It goes on clear and allows the wood grain to shine through. It has all the waterproofing qualities of a solid stain sealer but showcases the deck’s natural wood grain.

Alternatives to Behr Deck Stain

While Behr deck stains are popular and excellent at protecting your wooden deck, there are alternatives out there. Other brands claim impressive results and charge similar amounts for their deck stains.

Here is a selection of branded deck stains to consider:

Storm System Deck Sealer and Stain Protector

This Storm Deck Sealer contains a UV protector, is semi-transparent, and complements redwood and mahogany deck finishes. It goes on with a spray applicator, brush, or roller, and it dries in 12 hours for recoats and 24 hours fully cured.

Ready Seal Natural Deck Stain

This Ready Seal Deck Stain covers fences, decks, siding, and any other exterior wooden surfaces. It gives 150 square feet of coverage, is ready to recoat in 45 minutes, and cures in 72 hours. It is guaranteed not to streak or run, and it dries to a natural cedar color.

KILZ Siding, Fence, and Barn Paint

KILZ is one of the best-known brands out there. This Waterproofing exterior paint coats decks as well as fences and siding. It covers up to 250 square feet for the first coat and 500 square feet for subsequent layers.

Deck Staining Tips

Let’s take a leaf out of the pro rule book and use their knowledge and skill to get the best results. Using pro tips makes the task easier and saves you money.

Watch the Weather Reports

The last thing you want is to start staining and the heavens open. The stain won’t adhere to damp wood, and it will crack and peel. It will wash away all your hard work, and you will have to start again.

Don’t Skip the Preparation

Preparation is vital if you want the best outcomes. Sanding the wood, cleaning, and securing loose boards will keep your deck looking its best for years. Over time, wood bows, splinters, and nails work loose, so taking the time to make the repairs pays dividends.

Match the Stain to the Wood

It’s important to get the best match possible. If you have a redwood deck, use the corresponding color. It keeps your deck looking good without a patchy finish.

Use the Right Tools

Whether using a paintbrush or a sprayer, using the right tools has a massive influence on the outcome. Sprayers are hard to control and messy to use. Paintbrushes are more precise and economical with the stain.

Is It Better to Brush or Roll Stain On a Deck?

Brushing is better for flat and rounded surfaces and reaching intricate corners, but a roller is better for coating flat surfaces like deck boards. A roller won’t work that well on rounded surfaces like handrails and posts.


How Long Does Behr Deck Stain Last?

With the proper preparation, Behr deck stain can last up to 10 years. This depends on the weather conditions and how many coats you apply.

What Are Common Problems With Behr Deck Stain?

Some more common problems with Behr deck stains include cracking, peeling, and poor adherence.

How Many Coats of Deck Stain Should I Use?

You should use two coats of Behr deck stain unless your deck is dense hardwood and can only absorb one coat of stain.

Should I Sand Between Coats of Stain?

You should sand between coats of deck stain to get the smoothest surface possible and help the stain adhere.

What Happens If It Rains on My Freshly Stained Deck?

The rain will soak into the wood pores and stop the stain from adhering. It also creates a patchy appearance and ultimately causes it to peel and crack.

Take the Pain Out of Deck Stain

With summer approaching, now is the perfect time to turn your attention to staining your deck. The cold, wet, and wind pummel your deck, leaving it looking less than its best. To keep your deck in tip-top condition, consider staining it every couple of years.

The stain protects the wood from rot and stops shrinking or cracking caused by UV radiation.

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About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.