July 16, 2021

How Long Should Deck Stain Dry Before Walking on it? Simple To Follow Guide

Do you have a deck that has not been stained yet? Are you wondering how long it will take to dry and still be safe to walk on? This post will help you answer that question.

Many people are now looking to put wood on their deck and are considering a deck stain to protect their investment. But, before choosing your deck stain, it is important to know how long it takes for a deck stain to dry. 

First, the wet deck stain is applied to your deck, and then it is allowed to dry overnight. Then, the deck stain is allowed to dry thoroughly for at least a week. The drying time is important because it will determine whether the deck stain will significantly inhibit your deck from maintaining its natural beauty.

The importance of letting the stain dry

The stain has to dry before walking on it, and do not mix it with other substances and chemicals. Walking on deck before it dries gives you a poor finish, and as a result, the stain does not last long. 

A poor finish does not look beautiful, and it does not serve its intended purpose. There is reduced bonding between the deck and the stain. The deck has to be cured completely before use so that the new stain is not affected. 

How long should deck stain dry before walking on it

The deck is dry to touch in an hour, and after six hours, you start walking on it. For effective staining, give the deck two days. Different weather conditions affect the drying process differently. 

In cool weather and a high humid area, the drying process takes more time. If you want to test the deck, clean your feet and walk barefoot. That does not leave footprints, and items should not be moved during the drying time. 

In warm conditions, a day will be fine to start moving furniture. If you move your furniture before the deck dries, the stain sticks to the wood furniture and peels away. That means you have to remove the stain and restart the process. 

Walking on the deck before it dries up reduces the life of the deck surface. Early stages of dryness do not allow you to drag furniture on the deck. A second coat requires more drying time than one coat. Wait for four hours between coats. 

Factors that impact dry time


When the weather is warm, the drying process takes less time. Increased temperatures speed up the process. Avoid staining during midday or in direct sunlight. The right temperature for staining your deck is 70 degrees Fahrenheit as the maximum. 

The safety range is from 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Stains vary, and that is why you have to check the label first for instructions and proper temperature. 


Higher humidity slows down the process. When the humidity is ok, wait for 24 to 48 hours to be safe on the deck. High humidity has to be avoided as well as staining hot surfaces. Moist conditions are not conducive for staining and painting. 

That is why you do not have to strain during the rain. Let the surface dry for three to four days. When staining, start on the sides since there is no direct sunlight. 

Type of stain

The type of stain determines the drying time. Different wood stains take different times to dry. There is a label at the back of the container that tells you the waiting time before the wood stain dries. 

There are conditions and instructions to follow, and they are not universal. The product is specific about the time needed for the stain to dry. The brand of wood stain used may take a short or long time to dry. Water-based wood stains take three to four hours to dry, and oil-based deck stains take more time. 

Type of wood

The type of wood determines the time taken for the stain to dry. Different types of wood come with different penetrating abilities. Know the type of wood you are about to stain since they stain differently. 

The stain reacts differently on different types of wood. Adjust the stain using thinners and other color stains. Make tests before staining and look at the porosity of the wood. Oak has large pores, and that makes it easy and quick to dry. It takes less time as well as cedar.

Common mistakes

People tend to be lazy to clean the deck before they start staining. Investing in a pressure washer is a noble idea that people avoid. Washing and sanding are two processes people tend to skip. Using a power sander and a pressure washer reduces the effort to be applied using hands. 

If you are running on a tight budget, a low-budget washer and sander will do. A belt sander is ideal for a large deck. Rushing the sanding process by putting too much stain ruins the process and the deck. A single coat is a standard coat as long as it penetrates through the wood. Extra coats tend to peel and flake. 

Make sure the coat covers the whole surface and the edges and let it dry completely. Be patient on the process and avoid finishing the process in one day. After pressure washing, the deck has to dry before staining. 

Checking the weather before the process commends is necessary. Staining in the middle of the day does not allow the stain to absorb. Get rid of the dust and dirt on the deck. Allow new wood to rest for six months before staining so that it accepts the stain well. 

Low-budget stain does not last long, and it requires re-staining in a short period. Staining has to be a gradual process not fast-tracked. Work with the paintbrush back and forth and keep the lap marks wet. 

Plan ahead

Planning ahead of staining helps in many ways, and it includes studying the weather for effective staining. The weather forecast gives you several days of planning and staining without ruining the process. 

Select the best brush for the application process, which guarantees even applications of the stain and avoids uneven surfaces. The planning gives you the best type of stain to use. Preparation of your deck before staining gives you better results. Check out some deck tips so that you know if your timing is right.

Pick the right deck stain

Testing a small spot before staining allows you to pick the right stain. Wood comes in different forms, but it has different ways of reacting to deck stains. That is why you have to run tests and checks before you ruin the whole surface. 

The type of wood determines the color it matches. There is wood that looks good in natural color and wood that needs stain color. Testing the bottom of the deck helps you discover what is good for the wood. 

There are water-based stains, oil-based stains, varnish, and sealer stains you choose from. Some deck stains are compatible with sealers and paint, and some are not. Not all deck stains are easy to work with. You should not move items and choose wisely depending on your capabilities. Know what you want to do with your deck stain. 

Seal the wood

Sealing the wood protects the stained deck from bleeding. That is the reason why a sealer coat is necessary. The sealer has to be compatible with the stain, and the sealed deck has to dry completely before applying the seal. 

Sand the surface before applying the seal. That creates bonding between the deck and the seal. Durability remains key, although the deck is already stained. Remove the sanding debris using a cloth. Be careful as you seal the deck for better results. 

There are types of sealer, and these are shellac, lacquer, and natural varnish. The sealer is a mixture of 1 part of shellac and three parts of denatured alcohol. Choose a natural finish or the color of your choice before you blame the sealer. 

Different sealing techniques demand following instructions. Use a clean brush as you let the sealer flow evenly on the deck. Pay attention to the grain since it absorbs stains more deeply than the rest of the surface. The sealer protects the stained deck from scratches and fading.

Protect the area

Avoid splashing paint on the deck surface, and that means covering the deck surface to avoid spots. The area has to be well-ventilated so that the deck does not take more time to dry. 

There are chances that pets may run over the stained area before it dries, and you need to protect the area by improvising a fence. Covering the area with plastic prevents the rain, and that is why it is important to check your weekly weather report before you start staining. Need a solid deck stain?

David D. Hughes

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