A wood deck is an investment that adds value to a home by increasing living space. Protect your investment by cleaning it at least once a year. Pressure washing is the best way to efficiently remove dust, dirt, mildew and salt deposits that contribute to surface weathering. Keeping the deck clean prevents the wood from rotting, splintering, warping and buckling.
Wood decks should also be resealed every couple of years. However, for the stain to work and adhere correctly, the deck requires a thorough pressure washing. Read on to find out how long you have to wait to stain a deck after power washing.
How to Prepare Your Deck for Washing
When power washing a deck, proper care must be taken to avoid damage. Pressure washers produce a blast of water that can scar the boards, raise the wood fibers or splinter the wood if used improperly. Follow these steps to prepare your deck for washing:
- Remove all objects from the deck, including furniture, grills, toys and plants.
- Sweep the deck free of any loose dirt and debris, such as leaves and sticks.
- Cover exterior lights and vents, and close windows. You may want to cover nearby plants with a tarp to prevent damage from residual soap.
- Using a thin tool, such as a putty knife, remove any debris caught between the wood boards.
- Change your pressure washer tip to a wide-angle nozzle.
- Set the pressure washer on a weak to medium spray, and remove the surface debris in layers. Spray about 2 feet from the deck surface, going with the grain or the length of the boards. Overlap as you go to help prevent streaks.
- Maintain the same distance from the nozzle to the deck surface for consistent results and to prevent gouging the wood surface. Repeat this process until the surface is clean.
How Long After Washing a Deck to Stain
How long after power washing can you stain a deck? After thoroughly cleaning the deck, a new stain can be applied after about 48 hours. However, after power washing the deck, how long to wait before staining it ultimately depends on weather conditions.
How Long After Pressure Washing to Stain a Deck in a Shady Area
If the deck is located in a shady area and doesn’t face the sun, the wood may take longer to dry. Therefore, you should wait at least 72 hours before staining.
Why It’s Important to Wait the Adequate Timeframe
Always inspect the decking before applying the stain. Check for any damp or soft areas, as these may be signs of wet decking. If you apply stain on wet decking, it won’t be absorbed properly and can result in an uneven appearance. You will also be sealing water into the wood, which can lead to mold and mildew issues.
How to Know When Your Deck Is Ready for Staining
One way to measure if the deck is dry enough for staining is by using a moisture meter. Ideal readings for a dry deck are 12% to 15%. If the readings are higher, wait another day or two before beginning the staining process. If you are using this method, be sure to check the moisture level in several spots on the deck.
Staining a deck after power washing prevents moisture from soaking into the wood and contributes to the deck’s longevity. Learn more about using your pressure washer here.