How Long Does Deck Stain Need to Dry Before it Rains
Tips & Tricks

How Long Does Deck Stain Need to Dry Before it Rains

You should properly plan the task of staining your deck for the first time or maintaining the quality of your existing one. 

When planning to stain your deck, you should understand that the weather is one thing you can’t control; however, it’s wise to listen to forecasts and take necessary precautions before beginning the process. 

A perfect forecast for staining would be 24 to 48 hours with no chance of rain. However, what happens if it rains after you stain your deck? Read on to find out what you should do in such a situation. 

What If it Rains 12 Hours After Staining My Deck?

If the rain comes before your deck is completely dry, the rainwater will enter the pores on the wood surface and seep inside, pushing out the deck stain.

Correspondingly, the deck surface might appear splotchy rather than smooth and even. It gets worse if it rains shortly after you apply the wood stain because the rainwater will cause the stain to flake and peel off. 

It’s best if it doesn’t rain in the next 12 hours after you’ve finished staining your old or new deck. Otherwise, all your hard work will go waste. 

Timing Is Crucial When Staining Your Deck

It’s best to listen to the weatherman before staining your deck. The weather provides a go-to resource guide crucial to your success when planning to stain your deck. 

If you’re planning to stain your deck for the first time or maintain your existing deck, it’s best to do it when the weatherman says that it won’t rain for at least 48 hours.

Unfortunately, this could mean you must wait for several weeks or months in some regions. While such waits can be uncomfortable, they could be the difference between a one-off completion and several hours of additional work. 

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Many stain brands warn against applying their product within 12 to 24 hours of expected rain. Therefore, it’s best to wait a little longer and finish the job correctly. 

Additionally, the weather can be very unpredictable sometimes, increasing your dilemma. It’s also worth noting that different brands have varying drying times, and you could use one that takes longer to dry. 

What Should You Do if it Rains Before Your Stained Deck is Fully Dry?

You can do very little during the rainfall if it defies the forecast. You’ll have to wait until it stops raining and assess the damage. It’s best to wait until the deck has dried before taking a closer look at the affected wood.

The extent of the damage will depend on the following:

  • How soon it rains after staining
  • How long the rain lasted and how intensely it fell.

An intense downpour will likely leave more severe damage than a drizzle. Additionally, in some cases, a drizzle won’t hurt your freshly stained woodwork; therefore, you won’t need to do anything about the situation. 

While a rainstorm will most likely affect the deck, some stain brands can be more resilient to rainfall soon after application than others. Therefore, the choice of stain you use will make a significant difference.

Your next steps after rainfall will depend on the extent of damage, as you will determine from your assessment. For example, if the coat is flaking off or peeling, the chances are that the rain hits it too soon after application. Unfortunately, you can’t repair this kind of damaged coat. Instead, you’ll have to sand it down, strip it from your deck, and start the process again. 

The damage is minimal and merely cosmetic if there are a few imperfections. You can repair the damage by applying a second layer of the same stain to the affected areas. 

However, it’s best to read the label on the stain container for instructions on applying an additional coat of the stain. Different brands might recommend different intervals and application methods; therefore, it’s best to follow the instructions as accurately as possible. 

Additionally, you’ll want to wait until the deck is dry enough to stain it again. Remember not to apply stain if the forecast indicates rain before 24 to 48 hours. 

Once you’ve satisfied these conditions, start applying the stain in a discrete area before touching up the entire deck. It’s also important to remember that oil-based stains need more time to absorb the wood. 

What Happens if a Light Recoat of the Wood Stain Doesn’t Fix the Problem?

If a light recoat of the wood stain doesn’t fix the problem, you might have to wash the wood with a pressure washer to strip the damaged layer before recoating it. 

You can follow these steps to fix the problems if a light recoat doesn’t do it:

  • Use a pressure washer and wood cleaner to eliminate the white spots on the wood surface.
  • You can start on a low setting and slowly increase the pressure, ensuring that you’re not causing further harm to the stain.
  • Allow it to dry if the splotches remain after cleaning with a pressure washer and wood cleaner. 
  • Sand the surface lightly with sandpaper.
  • Wipe the wood clean and recoat the sanded areas and the spaces between boards.
  • Be sure to apply only a little of the product during recoating to prevent peeling and flaking. 
  • If you’re unhappy with the above fixes, you can use a deck stain stripper to strip the entire coat of stain and start over again. 

What Might Prolong the Amount of Time Your Deck Stain Takes to Dry?

Sometimes, your newly stained deck might be dry enough even after the recommended 48 hours. It’s important to understand the conditions that might prolong the time your deck stains take to dry so that you can plan accordingly.

Here are some instances that might increase the curing time for your deck:

New Wood

New wood usually has high moisture content inside, and the stain drying process involves the stain settling into the wood grain and not drying away.

The pores in the wood need to be open to accommodate the wood for the drying process. However, moisture often occupies much of the pores when the wood is new, leaving little room for the stain to enter during the curing process. 

Therefore, when you stain or paint wood with high moisture content, the stain will take longer to get absorbed into the wood. As a result, your stained deck will take longer to cure, whether using a water-based or oil-based stain. 

Experts recommend waiting for at least six months before staining a new deck. This time will allow the wood to shed off much of its moisture and be able to cure better when you finally stain it. 

Oil-Based Stain

Different deck stains recommend different drying times because the products used to make different wood stains differently; therefore, some stains cure sooner than others. 

Water-based stains will take less time to cure than oil paint. This is because the water in the stains can evaporate much quicker and leave the deck dry a few hours after application. 

On the other hand, if you use an oil-based stain on your deck, you should prepare it to take longer to dry. This happens because the stains are denser and generally take longer to dry than water-based stains. 

Therefore, it’s always a good idea to pay attention to the type of stain you want to use. Make this crucial decision as part of your planning process. 

High Humidity

High humidity means that there’s a lot of atmospheric water vapor; therefore, the water in your freshly stained wood has nowhere to evaporate. 

While evaporation is necessary for wood stains to dry, high humidity means the atmosphere has a lot of moisture suspended, making it difficult for the moisture on your deck to evaporate into the air. 

Therefore, the deck will experience longer drying depending on the humid weather. The higher the humidity, the longer it will take for your deck to dry. 

On the other hand, drier weather will help your newly stained deck to cure quickly and get ready to withstand rainwater. 

Rain on the Deck

When it rains, rainwater seeps into the pores inside the wood. Since wood stains need space inside these pores to cure, having rainwater in the pores will leave the stain with little room in the wood pores, which might prolong the drying process. 

It’s best not to stain a deck too soon after it rains (before 48 hours elapse). This is because the dampness in the wood will keep the stain from adhering to the deck correctly. 

Please follow this guideline to avoid ending up with a thinner final coat of stain that can easily wash off after only a few minutes of a downpour. Additionally, if you paint or stain a wet deck after it has just rained, the stained deck is likely to take a while longer to dry. 

Cold Weather

As per wood staining manufacturers, the ideal temperature range for drying freshly stained wood is 50 to 90 degrees. Staining your deck in temperatures below the range will likely lead to longer drying times, and your stained deck won’t be ready for a downpour in 24 to 48 hours if the weather is cold.

Cold weather is unsuitable for a fresh stain because the new coat needs to lose its dampness through evaporation, and that won’t happen if the decks are still wet. 

On the other hand, you don’t want to stain or paint your deck in direct sunlight. While you need relatively hot weather to facilitate a faster drying time for your deck, doing it in the sun will negatively affect the coating. 

The direct sunlight will likely cause the wet deck to dry too quickly, leaving unsightly water or brush marks on the coating. The ideal condition for deck staining is overcast weather where the clouds block sun rays. 

What are the Best Practices for Staining an Outdoor Deck?

Staining your deck might take some time; however, it’s worth the effort. Applying a quality stain on your deck protects it against harsh weather, moisture, and wood rot caused by insect infestations, mold, or mildew. Additionally, staining also enhances your deck’s appearance. 

In addition to ensuring that the weather is great before you start staining your deck, you can also do other things to ensure excellent results. Here are some tips for staining a wood deck:

Prep the Deck

It’s best to clean your deck well before staining it. This step is suitable for both new and older decks. You can use a pressure washer to clean; however, let the wood dry for two to three days before staining it. 

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to sand your wooden deck before staining it because sanding can close the wood’s pores and make it harder for the stain to penetrate. 

However, if your deck boards have lumps and bumps and sanding is a must, you can use 60 or 80-grit sandpaper. If you have a large deck, you can rent an orbital floor sander because it can simultaneously sand up to four boards, saving you time and effort. 

You can also clean the wood with a light bleach water solution, which will help remove wood dust and reopen the wood pores. However, ensure that the wood is completely dry before you apply the stain. 

Use the Right Tools

You can use a brush, roller, or sprayer to apply deck stain. Both options have pros and cons; however, most professionals swear by rollers. A roller is user-friendly and allows you to cover more surface area in less time than brushes. It also helps ensure a smooth finish. 

A sprayer covers even more surface area than a roller and offers the added benefit of getting stains in hard-to-reach areas like brushes. However, it’s best to use a low-pressure setting to avoid over-spraying, but not too low that you end up under-spraying. Finding and keeping the correct balance might take a lot of work for beginners. 

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If you use a sprayer, consider staining your deck on a still day because even the slightest gust of wind can carry the stain particles away from the intended application area, resulting in an uneven finish.

Apply a High-Quality Wood Stain

A high-quality wood stain might cost a little more than the generic one; however, it also delivers more in terms of quality, longevity, and protection against the elements. 

Some cheaper stains emit toxic fumes that might harm your health, and others might crack, flake, or change color over time. 

Scheduling your deck staining project for a warm, dry day and following the tips above will help prevent you from wasting time and resources on re-sanding and recoating your deck.