How Long Does It Take A Wood Deck To Dry?

The most important rule in staining wood is never to stain it while wet. But how long should you wait for your wood deck to dry after being soaked in the rain or power washing it? How about after you have stained or painted it? We searched for answers regarding this, and here is what we found.

After power washing or being wet from the rain, you should wait 24-48 hours for your wood deck to dry before you can stain it. In addition, wood stain typically needs 24 to 72 hours to properly dry and cure.

But what happens when it rains right after you finish staining? Stick around as we answer that question for you. We'll talk about why you should wait for the wood to dry before you stain it and how to pressure wash your deck correctly.

We'll also discuss if you should paint or stain your deck and how long it takes before you can walk on it after doing so. So read on!

done finish wood deck on the outdoor of house, How Long Does It Take A Wood Deck To Dry?

Do I Have To Let Wood Dry Before Staining It?

After pressure washing a deck, you must wait for the wood to dry fully before sealing it. The moist wood will prevent the stain from properly adhering if you apply it too soon after washing.

A thinner coat is produced, which looks worse and is more likely to wash away after rain.

wet wood deck, water on floor, rain drops on floor

The process of power washing and cleaning your deck requires waiting until it is sufficiently dry. Pressure washing your deck thoroughly soaks it in water, which is why it takes so long.

The high-pressure water removes dirt from cracks and crevices by penetrating them deeply, but this also prolongs the time it takes for the water to evaporate.

You shouldn't stain your deck right away after a downpour, just as you shouldn't after pressure washing it. The wetness of the wood caused by rain impacts how well the stain sticks.

It's crucial to stain the wood only after it has thoroughly dried.

How To Pressure Wash A Wood Deck

A pressure washer is a simple device that cleans effectively using only water. However, if it's not employed correctly, it might damage your deck.

washing wood deck using pressure washer on a sunny day

That's why we'll give you the steps to pressure wash your wood surface properly:

  1. Choose a tip and pressure level.
  2. Examine the pressure washer's settings.
  3. Pressure wash the deck.
  4. Use a chemical brightener or stripper.

1. Choose a tip and pressure level

  • Use the lowest pressure you can while maintaining effectiveness. Harder woods may tolerate more pressure, but you shouldn't exceed 1,200 psi. Pressure for softwoods should be at about 500 to 600 psi.
  • Use a fan tip with a spread of 40º to 60º. If you utilize a rotating tip carefully, it can also be used.

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2. Check the pressure washer's settings

  • Pressure washer use necessitates some practice. Test your pressure and its efficacy in a hidden location, such as a corner or a staircase tread.
  • Start with 500–600 psi of pressure. Gradually raise the pressure until you find the ideal setting for thorough cleaning.

3. Pressure wash the deck

  • Set the trigger while keeping the wand tip a few feet from the deck surface, and bring it closer as necessary. Avoid getting any closer than 6 inches to avoid damaging the wood.
  • Sweeping motions are best for cleaning the deck; avoid using your arm to rotate, as this may cause the distance between the spray tip and the deck surface to fluctuate. By lateral arm moving back and forth, try to maintain a constant distance.
  • Beginning at the house, clean the deck planks. To work with the grain, feather the spray longitudinally, parallel to the deck boards, and slightly overlap each section.

4. Use a chemical brightener or stripper

Note: This step is optional.

  • A deck cleaning solution with sodium hydroxide can help brighten wood that has been severely discolored or mildew-stained.
  • According to the manufacturer's instructions, combine the solution. Apply the stripper solution to how you would pressure wash with normal water, then repeat the process to rinse.
  • Before staining or sealing the wood, you will typically need to thoroughly sand the deck because brightener/stripper treatments tend to roughen up the wood fibers.

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You can check out this video for an easy-to-follow visual guide:

Should You Stain Or Paint Your Wood Deck?

Your deck will survive longer if you paint or stain it than if you leave it untreated. Both materials prevent water from entering your wood and shield it from fading from the sun.

But how is staining different from painting? What choice should you go for?

A few minor variations between paint and stain might influence your decision. To help you decide better, below are the pros and cons of each.


paint brush, wood deck, painting wood stain on wood deck

To help safeguard and preserve your deck, a deck stain product is coated to the wood's surface.

Based on the specific recommendations for the type of wood used, you will need to use a deck stain to refurbish the surface if your deck is built of wood.

Fences, wood siding, and other wooden landscaping components may require re-staining, among other surfaces.

Deck stain prevents moisture but does not shield the wood from sunlight. You might observe that the wood gradually develops sun damage and fades.

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  • Using stain, you may preserve the exquisite variation and character of the wood grain.
  • Stains are less slippery than painted surfaces. They provide a smooth surface that shields the wood just enough without entirely encasing it in a polished gloss.
  • It is simpler to apply than paint and a little more forgiving.
  • There are now many different colors of stain. As you choose your color, make sure to take the color of the wood into account.


  • You might need to recoat your deck more frequently because stain might not last as long as paint.
  • Cracks are more complicated to fill with stain than with paint. That said, it is thinner than paint.
  • Not all the flaws in wood will be fully concealed by the stain.

You can check out this post to learn more about the pros and cons of staining a deck: Pros And Cons Of Staining A Deck.


painting wood stain on a wood deck, white gloves

The thickness of the covering is the primary distinction between deck stain and deck paint.

Deck paint coats the wood surface with a thick layer. As a result, there is a greater possibility of the paint pealing because it is typical for wood to swell and expand due to the weather.

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  • Compared to stain, paint offers a thicker finish. If your deck already has some wear and tear, it's an excellent option because it can fill in little gaps.
  • Applying the paint properly preserves your wood and makes it easy to clean off debris.
  • Paint is more effective in fending rot, mold, and sun damage.
  • You have countless color options when using paint.


  • It's not the option that looks the most natural.
  • It's pretty challenging to go from paint to stain. Your deck will probably need to be painted from time to time.
  • When it's rainy or slippery outdoors, you might need extra caution when applying paint. The shine of your pain will determine how slippery your deck will be.

What Factors Affect The Dry Time Of Wood Stains?

Temperature, humidity, and air circulation are crucial factors that might lengthen or shorten drying time while learning how to apply stain.

  • Typically, the ideal staining temperature for wood is between 50 and 90 ºF. Consider starting early if you're working outside, so the stained surface has time to cure during the hot afternoon.
  • Humidity also affects the drying time. Try to finish staining jobs while the humidity is low because the stain dries slowly in high humidity.
  • Similarly, it's crucial to have good airflow to aid in drying the stained surface. Think about the differences between attempting to dry a towel in a sauna and outside.

How Long Before You Can Walk On Paint Or Wood Stain?

pair of sneakers, wood deck, wood floor

Wait for 24 hours before there is any light foot traffic. A pure cure will be achieved after 72 hours. It could take longer to dry if the temperature is lower and more humid.

If the traffic increase lasts too long, the coating will deteriorate.

Click this post to know more about this topic: How Long Before You Can Walk On Stained Floors?

Our Final Words

done finish wood deck on the outdoor of house, How Long Does It Take A Wood Deck To Dry?

Before proceeding with your staining or painting job, check the weather forecast to see if it's going to rain. Additionally, ensure that your deck is clean and allow it to dry for a day or two before applying a stain or paint.

Made it this far? Check out these helpful related articles:

Can You Use Water-Based Stain Over Oil-Based Stain?

Staining Vs. Painting for Outdoor Wooden Surfaces

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