Find out how to stain a deck. Learn why preparation is key and get tips on mixing polyurethane into the stain.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve got a wood deck at your money pit, now is the time of year to get out there and start enjoying it. But if it’s looking a little worse for the wear, you can actually extend its life by giving it a really good cleaning and then re-staining it. Do it now and then you don’t have to do it again for another couple of years.
And it’s not a really terrible project, right?
TOM: Absolutely not. And here with some tips to help make sure your staining job sticks around and it looks great is This Old House  host, Kevin O’Connor , and the show’s general contractor, Tom Silva .
And guys, this is a very doable project for a weekend warrior, isn’t it?
KEVIN: Staining a deck  is a great do-it-yourself, home improvement project. It’ll extend the life of your deck, it’ll dramatically improve your curb appeal and it doesn’t cost a lot.
But what’s the key to a properly stained deck, Tom?
TOM SILVA: Like any painting and staining project, preparation is the key. First, wash the deck by applying a deck wash, using a pump sprayer. Scrub it with a stiff-bristled brush and then rinse it off.
For the most part, I don’t like pressure washers; they can damage the surface of the deck. I also like to use a fungicide and a mildew preventer, usually made from borate. You can apply that with a pump sprayer but you don’t want to wash this off; let it soak into the wood.
When the wood is dry, you can then apply the stain. Now, what I like to do – if you use an oil-based stain – I like to take and mix a little bit of polyurethane or varnish in with the stain; about a half a pint per gallon.
KEVIN: And how many coats of stain do you recommend?
TOM SILVA: Well, usually it takes two because the wood gets pretty dry.
KEVIN: Alright. Well, if you want more information, you can watch a video about how to stain a deck  on ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: Tom Silva, Kevin O’Connor, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: Thanks, Tom. Nice to be here.
KEVIN: Nice to be here, Tom.
LESLIE: You know – and if you’re looking for a quick, little fix that really doesn’t require a lot of work – say, if your deck is only kind of looking bad in a couple of sections – go to those damaged boards, flip them over and then reattach them and it really will look fantastic.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right.
LESLIE: And then you can go ahead and stain the entire deck and it’s going to look great.
TOM: Good point.
Well, if you want more information from Tommy and Kevin, be sure to watch them on This Old House, which is brought to you by Cub Cadet. Cub Cadet – you can’t get any better.