How Long Should Deck Stain Dry Before Walking On It? 

image of stained deck but, How Long Should Deck Stain Dry Before Walking On It?I’ve seen many people do an excellent staining job on their deck and end up spoiling the whole thing by walking over the surface. Imagine how devastating it can be to spend the whole day staining your deck to spoil it by walking on it. It might not be intentional that you walk on your stain when it’s still wet, so how long should deck stain dry before walking on it?

In standard conditions, a deck stain should take approximately 1-2 hours to dry to touch. However, you should wait for about 4-6 hours before you could think about walking on it. In areas that experience cooler weather or high humidity levels, it is recommended that you wait a little longer than the stated duration.

NOTE: If you are going to walk on your freshly stained deck’s surface, ensure that you clean and walk over the surface with bare feet.

I’d advise that you wait for at least one full day before moving light furniture back to the deck. Moving back items too soon might lead to premature peeling of the stain.

What Happens if it Rains Before Deck Stain Dries?

If it rains in less than 48 hours after you have stained your deck, for example, the water will soak right into the pores of the wood and displace the stain in the process. The result will be a splotchy surface and not an even one. In case it rains right after you apply the stain, it will peel and flake off.

What’s The Ideal Weather For Deck Staining?

It would be best if you stained your deck when temperatures are cool and dry because this is when the stain best penetrates the wood. So, check out for overcast weather conditions to stain your structure and avoid rainy seasons. If you have to stain your deck, ensure that you do it after the sun is no longer directly shining on your deck. 

How to Stain a Deck

Most people do not end up with the best possible finish quality in staining because they follow the wrong procedure or miss some crucial steps. I’ve highlighted some essential steps that you should undertake to ensure that your finish is just what you expected:

  • Before applying stain to your deck, make sure that the deck is clean, you should follow that with a sprinkler test to tell if your deck is ready for staining. In the sprinkler test, you sprinkle droplets of water over the surface of the wood. If the wood absorbs water within the first 10 minutes of sprinkling, stain it. If the water beads or pools over the wood, then the deck is not ready for staining. Allow it more days to dry.
  • Working in the wood grain direction, apply an even layer of the stain using a 4-inch brush. Alternatively, you can use a roller for the stain’s initial application and then work it into the wood using the brush.
  • For best results possible, you should at all costs avoid staining at midday or in direct sunlight. If you need to apply a second coat, wait 4 hours between applications.
  • Depending on the prevailing temperature and humidity levels, allow your deck a range of 24 – 48 hours of dry time before using your looking deck.

Can I Pressure Wash My Deck

Yes, it is okay to use a pressure washer for the cleaning of your deck. Ensure that you use a pressure that does not exceed a range of 1200-1500 pounds per square inch (PSI). A pressure washer at 1500 PSI is still considered risky, and if not careful, you might damage softwoods such as pines, etc.

So if you decide to use a pressure washer for your deck, ensure that you are working at a favorable PSI to minimize every chance of damaging your deck in the process.

How Soon After Pressure Washing My Deck Can I Stain It?

Once you have removed all the old stain from your deck and cleaned it, all you will have remaining is to apply a fresh coat of the formula. However, how long should you wait before you stain a pressure-washed deck? If you are working in steady environmental conditions, you should allow your pressure washed deck about 48 hours to dry. 

If you want to be sure that the deck has dried, I’d advise that you give it 72 hours before you can go ahead with your staining work.

Frequently Asked Questions On Deck Staining

How do I tell my deck is dry enough for staining?

There are two sure methods of telling if your deck is ready for staining, some of which I’ve already discussed at the beginning of this post. The methods are:

  • The use of a moisture meter is one way you can use to test your wood’s water/moisture capacity. Using this tool, put it on several wood spots so that you are sure you have adequately measured the wood. If you get a reading in the range of 12%-15%, then it means that your deck is dry enough for staining. If the levels are higher, then the wood is not dry, and you should allow it more days to dry before you can stain it.

Some of the best moisture meters that you could use includes: Extech MO55 and Wood Moisture Meter.

Watch the video below on how to check moisture in the wood using moisture meter:
  • Another method is the much-publicized sprinkler test where you pour some water on the wood. If the wood absorbs the water within the first few minutes, then you can stain it. If the water pools or beads on the surface, then it is not ready for staining. Allow it more time to dry.

Can you stain a wet deck?

Yes, you can, but I’d not advise you to do that because the stain will not last on the surface. For the best result, allow the wood to dry before you can go about with your staining projects.

What is the best temperature for staining your deck?

It would be best if you were not working in an overly cold or hot environment. The perfect weather conditions for you to stain your deck are dry and warm days. Ensure that the day you are working isn’t windy or with high humidity levels. A temperature range of 10° – 35° Celsius is the best for deck staining.

Additionally, ensure that you are not working when the sun is not directly overhead your deck because it will make the stain dry so fast and not absorb into the wood.

Key Points When it Comes to Staining a Deck

  • It would be best if you did not stain a wet deck by all means.
  • Ensure that you remove the old deck stain before you clean it with a pressure washer
  • Leaving puddles of detergent on the deck can damage or discolor it.
  • Allow your deck up to 72 hours before you can apply a wood stain to it.
  • If you stain a wet deck, you will end up with an uneven finish.
  • Ensure that you are staining your deck on a dry, warm day.


The hard part entails cleaning and staining the wood. However, you can compromise your hard work by being impatient. It is essential to know how long you should wait before you can move over the surface. To determine the best time to move back furniture to your freshly stained deck, you should be able to answer this question…

How Long Should Deck Stain Dry Before Walking On It?

Well, you must be aware at this point that a stain should take between 1-2 hours to dry to touch. If you are looking to walk over the surface, ensure that you do it after 4-6 hours and clean bare feet.

Waiting for up to 24 hours or more to return your furniture would ensure that your stain cures appropriately and serve you for as long as possible.

Was this article helpful? Kindly let me know what you think in the comment section below.

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Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

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