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Stain Deck Cost Guide
Updated: August 17, 2022
A deck can be a great place to entertain guests and relax after a long day. However, your deck can easily fall into disrepair and eventually rot away if not properly maintained. Cleaning, restaining, and sealing extend the life of your back deck. Decks come in many different sizes, shapes, and materials. Because of this, the cost to stain a deck varies quite a bit. Pricing also depends on how much work is needed, such as power washing, stripping, and/or sanding.
The national average cost for deck staining ranges from $550 to $850. The average homeowner spends about $750 on a 14’ x 18’ deck for cleaning, minor repairs, staining, and sealing. At the low end of the price range, some people spend as little as $300 on staining and sealing a small deck with no repairs and minimal cleaning. At the high end, you could spend as much as $1,000 on deep cleaning, moderate to serious repairs, and then staining and sealing a larger deck in disrepair.
Deck Staining Prices
|Deck Staining Cost|
|National average cost||$750|
Cost to Stain a Deck per Square Foot
It costs about $2 to $5 per sq.ft. to stain a deck, including light sanding and sealing. Since decks come in so many sizes, it is important to know the square footage of your deck before you call for service or to get an estimate. When deciding on the stain and other materials, know that you will pay more for larger spaces because you need more product. In the table below, you see a breakdown of the costs involved in staining decks in various sizes based on the square footage.
|Size in feet||Staining Cost|
|8 x 10 (80 sq.ft.)||$160 - $400|
|12 x 12 (144 sq.ft.)||$290 - $720|
|10 x 16 (160 sq.ft.)||$320 - $800|
|10 x 20 (200 sq.ft.)||$400 - $1,000|
|12 x 20 (240 sq.ft.)||$480 - $1,000|
|14 x 20 (280 sq.ft.)||$560 - $1,400|
|16 x 20 (320 sq.ft.)||$640 - $1,600|
|20 x 20 (400 sq.ft.)||$800 - $2,000|
Deck Stain Cost per Gallon by Type
The cost for deck stain varies by type and ranges from $25 to $80 per gallon, depending on whether you choose oil-based, water-based, or latex stains. Each has its own pros and cons, such as the protective nature of latex stains that are usually thicker and more opaque. Water-based stains are easy to maintain, while oil-based stains are easier to apply. The table below shows a breakdown of the costs per gallon for each type of deck stain.
|Type of Stain||Cost per Gallon (Materials Only)|
|Latex||$25 - $35|
|Oil-Based||$25 - $45|
|Water-Based||$40 - $80|
Deck Stain Cost per Gallon by Stain Opacity
You may be choosing a stain based on its opacity, which costs between $25 and $90 per gallon. Transparent stains allow the color and wood grain to show through while only adding a tint of color. This is great if you choose a premium wood that is already beautiful in its own right, but you want to add a little bit of protection and style. They do not offer as much protection as other types of stains, but they are still relatively simple in terms of upkeep. Semi-transparent stains make a more notable difference in the wood color. They are less likely to peel than fully-transparent or clear stains. Solid stains are fully concealing. They change the hue and color of your current deck and conceal the wood grain beneath the surface. Solid stains are often used to cover blemishes in the deck and are the most UV-resistant of all the stains. The table below shows a breakdown of the average cost per gallon for each type.
|Deck Stain||Cost per Gallon (Materials Only)|
|Transparent||$25 - $60|
|Solid||$25 - $65|
|Semi-Transparent||$25 - $90|
Deck Stain Price by Brand
The cost to purchase deck stain varies from one brand to the next, ranging from $30 to $70 per gallon. Several brands on the market today deliver different types of stains for decks and other wood fixtures and furnishings. Many people want to know the difference between the cost of Behr deck stain and Sherwin Williams deck stain, for example. Those are just two of the leading brands available. The table below shows a breakdown of the top brands for deck stain and their average costs per gallon.
|Stain Brand||Cost per Gallon (Materials Only)|
|Behr||$30 - $50|
|Sherwin Williams||$35 - $65|
Average Price to Stain a Deck by Part
The cost to stain your deck by part ranges from $2 to $5 per sq.ft. or $4 to $12 per linear foot. In some instances, you may only need to stain part of the deck, such as in the case of an addition where you already stained the decking but now have handrails and posts to stain. Perhaps the decking is painted, and the accents are stained. Perhaps the cost to stain deck railings is worth it, but you plan to do the decking yourself to save the money. In any case, the table below shows the most common parts of the deck and the cost to stain them separately.
|Deck Part||Staining Cost|
|Stairs||$2 - $5/sq.ft.|
|Decking||$2 - $5/sq.ft.|
|Handrails||$4 - $12/linear feet|
|Posts||$4 -$12/linear feet|
|Railings||$4 - $12/linear feet|
Labor Cost to Stain a Deck
Most contractors charge by the square foot. The average rate is $1.50 to $3 for labor, with the other $0.50 to $2 making up the materials costs. Staining a deck is a complicated process, and hiring a professional is best. But, how long does it take to stain a deck? The entire process takes two to three days, depending on the products being used. The first day will be to strip, sand, and/or pressure wash the deck. The second day will be for the actual staining. A third day may be needed to apply the sealer/waterproofing product.
Painters are usually hired to handle deck staining and specifically those with outdoor painting and staining expertise. They charge $25 to $100 per hour if they do not charge by the sq.ft. In some instances, you may be able to hire a general handyman for $400 to $500 to stain a deck or $50 to $100 per hour. You will pay more for higher levels of expertise and specialization, but the quality that you get will be unmatched.
Cost to Restain a Deck
Restaining a deck refreshes and strengthens your deck and makes it look new again. It costs about $4 to $7 per sq.ft., with the extra cost accounting for power washing, stripping the old stain, and then sanding and preparing the surface for the new stain. You cannot just apply a new stain over the old or even paint over it. This reduces the adhesion and requires more maintenance and a much sooner replacement than if you do things the right way. If you are restaining a deck rather than starting with fresh, unfinished wood, make sure that you let your contractor know so that they include all the necessary work in their pricing estimate.
Deck Staining Preparation
Sometimes prep work is involved with the deck staining process. You may spend $2.25 to $9 per sq.ft. if you add preparation steps to the deck staining process. Not all homeowners need all services. It depends on the current status of your deck. Talk to your contractor to learn how things like the cost to sand and stain a deck affect the cost you pay for the entire project. The table and subsections below show the preparation steps, their costs, and their costs when combined with staining.
|Process||Prep Work Step Cost per Sq.Ft.||Prep Work Step and Staining Cost per Sq.Ft.|
|Cleaning||$0.25 - $0.50||$2.25 - $5.50|
|Power Washing||$0.30 - $0.40||$2.30 - $5.40|
|Stripping||$1 - $3||$3 - $8|
|Sanding||$1 - $4||$3 - $9|
Average Cost to Clean and Stain a Deck
You will usually find that you need the deck cleaned before it is stained, which costs about $0.25 to $0.50 per sq.ft. in addition to the staining cost. Cleaning is similar to power washing and is discussed below. However, other cleaning methods may be considered, such as scrubbing the deck or using a cleaning product designed especially for decks. If you want the best results, it is best to let the professionals clean and stain your deck as a complete process.
Deck Power Washing and Staining
You can expect to spend $0.30 to $0.40 per sq.ft. to power wash your deck prior to staining it. This depends on what equipment is needed and who you hire to do the job. Power washing rids your deck of dirt, debris, mildew, and mold. Once the deck is completely clean, the stain can be applied, and your deck will be ready to go unless you decide to apply a separate sealer or waterproofing coat.
Strip and Stain a Deck
The cost to strip a deck runs between $1 and $3 per sq.ft., depending on the method or material used and the additional labor costs. If you have existing paint or stain on the deck, you need to strip the original coating before applying a new one, which adds to the cost. Most professionals include this in their estimate because you cannot do one without the other. However, ask what your quote entails to get accurate pricing.
Sand and Stain a Deck
To sand and stain your deck, you will spend an additional $1 to $4 per sq.ft. for the sanding itself. If there is already a coating or finish on the decking, you need to sand it down to apply the new stain. Sanding can also be used to make minor repairs and get rid of small blemishes. When sanding is included with the price of the project and the same contractor does the work, you may be able to get a discount. Some people choose to do the sanding themselves. However, that takes time and experience that not everyone may have.
Alternatives to Staining a Deck
In some instances, staining a deck is not the ideal solution, and homeowners may want to do something else with their space. Options include refinishing the deck, just sealing the deck (without re-staining), deck restoration, and waterproofing. If it is not time for a fresh coat of stain or paint, just sealing or waterproofing could be a good option. For some people, a full refinishing or restoration will be required, rather than the deck just being stained or sealed. The costs vary depending on the work involved. In the table and subsections below, you will see alternative projects, their average costs, and what they entail.
|Alternative||Cost per Sq.Ft.|
|Sealing||$0.75 - $4|
|Waterproofing||$2.30 - $5.40|
|Refinishing||$3 - $6.50|
|Restoration||$4.50 - $6.50|
Seal a Deck
If you choose to seal your deck only, you can expect to pay between $0.75 and $4 per sq.ft. on sealant for materials and labor. Sealing can be done to protect the wood, and it can be done with or without staining. Some people choose to seal a deck that is still in decent condition and does not need to be restained or painted as a protective measure. Others just seal the existing wood to create a more natural look. In any case, it’s affordable compared to staining and can do a lot for the space.
Some homeowners choose to waterproof their deck instead of staining or refinishing it. This costs $30 to $50 per gallon for waterproofing materials or a total of $2.30 to $5.40 per sq.ft. for the materials and labor. Waterproofing a deck is a great way to protect the paint, stain, or the original woodwork. This process should be done regularly and can be done in addition to painting and staining or as an alternative. Talk to your contractor to make sure that you get the right treatment.
The cost to refinish a deck per sq.ft. is $3 to $6.50. This is an alternative to staining the deck for people looking for something a little more intensive. Refinishing may also be a part of the staining and sealing process, but it is sometimes a project done on its own. Refinishing covers all the costs, including cleaning, sanding or stripping, and then finishing the surface. If the deck is in serious disrepair, this could be a good choice.
Restoring your deck costs between $4.50 and $6.50 per sq.ft. This process includes inspecting for damage, cleaning, making necessary repairs, adding or replacing damaged parts, and so forth. Then, the deck will be painted, sealed, or waterproofed, depending on what the homeowner wants. The contractor you choose can walk you through the restoration process and help you better understand what to expect and whether this is a viable alternative to staining for your needs.
Deck Stain Material by Type of Wood
Different stains are available for different types of wood or materials used for decking and other outdoor projects. Some woods require more delicate care or additional prep work before restaining. In other cases, the type of wood might determine the ideal type of stain to use (water-based, oil-based, transparent vs. opaque, etc.). When it comes to decks, pressure-treated, IPE, redwood, mahogany, and cedar are the most common materials. They each have their considerations in choosing a stain. You should discuss your deck stain based on the material of your decking with your contractor to determine what is best.
For example, pressure-treated wood may only need a light stain or coat of sealant because it has already been specifically treated for its intended use. You could paint it or choose a more opaque stain, but that would only be for aesthetic appeal. IPE is a dense material and does best with an oil-based stain. Some IPE-specific stains on the market make the decision easy. Redwood is a harder wood that requires less maintenance and fares well with water-based or transparent stains that offer UV and moisture protection without covering up its natural beauty. Cedar is beautiful but fades over time. Professionals recommend a water-based stain with paraffin wax to keep water from soaking into the wood. Mahogany is best suited for an oil-based stain to protect the wood and preserve its appearance for as long as possible.
How Much Deck Stain Do I Need?
A gallon of deck stain covers 150 to 300 sq.ft, which means the cost for just the stain for a 300 sq.ft. deck ranges from $25 to $90, while a larger deck such as 400 sq.ft. adds up to $50 to $180. In the table below, you see a list of the common deck sizes and how much stain you need, including a little extra for re-coats and touch-ups to complete the job.
|Size in Feet||Gallons Needed to Cover Surface|
|8 x 10 (80 sq.ft.)||1 - 2|
|12 x 12 (144 sq.ft.)||1 - 2|
|10 x 16 (160 sq.ft.)||1 - 2|
|10 x 20 (200 sq.ft.)||1 - 2|
|12 x 20 (240 sq.ft.)||1 - 2|
|14 x 20 (280 sq.ft.)||1 - 2|
|16 x 20 (320 sq.ft.)||2 - 3|
|20 x 20 (400 sq.ft.)||2 - 3|
Pros and Cons of Staining a Deck
There are several pros and cons to deck staining. Some people find it is a great way to add a finish to protect the wood while enhancing its natural look. Others choose a more solid stain that offers a unique finish and covers the original wood grain. Staining a deck is a great way to add protection, but it can be time-consuming and cost more because of all the prep work involved. DIY deck staining is possible. However, if you are re-staining, power washing, sanding, and other tasks are best done by a professional. For a cheaper protective solution, applying a sealer or waterproof coating could be more economical. Deck staining delivers the ultimate solution for protection and style, though.
Deck Maintenance Cost
The cost of deck maintenance is minimal, ranging from $100 to $300 per year. This covers things like power washing the deck in the spring, fixing small repairs, sanding or refinishing dull or damaged areas, sealing the deck, replacing nails or other hardware, and so forth. The better care you take of your deck, the less time and money you will spend on maintenance and refinishing the space over the years. Keep your deck clean and fix issues as they arise to guarantee that your deck provides years of use with less maintenance.
Paint vs Stain Deck Cost
If you choose to paint your deck instead of staining, you should expect to spend around $5 to $9 per sq.ft., or nearly twice the cost of staining alone. Some people prefer to paint their deck for the style enhancement, but it costs a lot more. Stain offers a budget-friendly solution that protects the deck and gives you the option to add style. Some people prefer paint because they can pick from more colors. Others prefer stain to preserve the natural wood look of the deck. The table below shows both options and their average cost per gallon.
|Finish||Cost per Sq.Ft. (Labor Included)|
|Stain||$2 - $5|
|Paint||$5 - $9|
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
The cost for deck brightener is $16 to $18 per gallon. If your deck is looking dull, you can apply a deck brightener. Deck brightener highlights the original wood beauty of your deck and makes it look new again. It contains no bleach and is non-corrosive, so it will not damage your deck. Its cleaning agents remove dirt and mildew and prepare the wood for staining.
Some people may decide to have designs stained into their deck during the process. This adds $3 to $10 per sq.ft., depending on the size and complexity of the design. These designs are usually found more frequently on interior wood floors. However, as more people create luxurious outdoor spaces, they add these designs to enhance the space and add a unique focal point.
If you decide that you want to stain your fence at the same time as your deck, you can expect to spend an additional $1,000 to $3,000 on the fence staining itself. Doing both projects at once ensures a cohesive look in your yard and allows you to keep both fixtures on the same maintenance and refinishing schedule over the years. Usually, the same person that stains your deck will also be able to stain your fence, so there may be some opportunities for discounts if you talk to your contractor.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Permits. A permit is not required for painting or staining. If you are considering replacing your deck, unless you are replacing over half of the deck, you should not be required to have a permit. Your contractor will know the local requirements.
- Choose an experienced professional. It is always a good idea to hire someone who has experience with the job they are doing. You may want to inquire whether the contractor is trained in staining and sealing a deck. Looking for reviews and testimonials helps you make the decision.
- DIY. While it may be less expensive to do the work yourself, staining and sealing a deck can be a big job. DIY also leaves you with the mess, clean-up, and no warranty on the work done.
- Home value. Deck staining or refinishing is a project that can easily recoup 100% of its costs in the value of your home. Most home improvements only generate 50% to 80% return. However, this one makes a much bigger impact, so consider that when adding it to your list.
- Environmentally-friendly deck stain. Some stains are environmentally friendly and contain fewer chemicals, as well as the often-preferred water-based stain, which is one of the more affordable options. Talk to your contractor to determine which is best for your deck and budget.
- How often do you need to stain a deck?
Wood decks need to be re-stained and sealed every two to three years, while a more durable deck such as fiber cement or aluminum may never require restaining.
- How long does it take to stain a deck?
It usually takes four hours per 100 sq.ft. to stain a deck.
- When should you stain your deck?
You should stain your deck when it is first built and over the years when it gets worn down and fixing or touch-ups are no longer enough to keep it in good condition.
- Can you apply deck stain with a roller?
Yes, you can use a roller to apply deck stain to the bigger areas. However, you will need brushes to get to the corners and hard-to-reach spaces.
- Can I stain my deck in hot weather?
Staining the deck in moderate weather is best, so the stain can dry and be less likely to peel. If your deck needs to be stained when it is hot, your contractor can take the necessary precautions to do it well.
- What color should you stain your deck?
Stain your deck a color that matches or complements your home color and any outdoor furniture or fixtures you have. It’s a personal choice, and there are so many colors to choose from that it will be up to you to see what you like best.
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.